In today’s job market, sending a post-interview thank you note can mean the difference between landing the job and being completely overlooked.
Yet, more than half of job seekers never send one, according to Wendy Enelow, founder and president of Career Thought Leaders. And as Business Insider’s executive managing editor Jessica Liebman says, this is the No. 1 mistake people she interviews make.
“If I don’t get a thank you note, I assume the person doesn’t want the job, is disorganized, and I’ll likely forget about them,” Liebman says.
Of course, a generic, “Thank you for your time” won’t cut it. You’ll want to really stand out from the competition.
In his book “Wait, How Do I Write This Email?” author and communication expert Danny Rubin says the key difference between a generic thank you note that gets sent to the trash and one that stands out is the special touch you add that makes it one of a kind. This is the part of your note where you remind the interviewer you paid attention and would be perfect for the job.
Here are a few ways you can stand out:
1. Reiterate skills, experience, and accomplishments
'Even though you might have shared them during the interview, everybody doesn't hear everything that you say,' Enelow explains. Give specific examples that show the hiring manager why you'd be a good fit for the position, and distinguish your skill set from the competition.
However, don't mention anything unrelated to the job at hand. If you're interviewing for a sales job, talk about your previous experience in sales, not accounting. 'All they care about is that job,' Enelow says.
Example: As we discussed, I feel my design skills would be a nice complement to your graphics department.
2. Supplement your interview answers
Use the thank you note as an opportunity to expand on points you made during the interview or to add additional information you want the company to know. Just remember to keep it concise and job-specific.
'If you feel like you didn't quite answer a question or couldn't think of something at the time, you could mention that,' says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, a career coach with SixFigureStart.
This is also a great opportunity to send any links to projects, news stories, or websites you may have mentioned during the interview.
Example: Since you asked about my experience in the Middle East region during the interview, I thought I'd add that I did this research project on the Middle East during my time at ...
3. Share ideas
Share an idea of how you would solve a problem, overcome an obstacle, or meet a challenge faced by the company. This proves that you understand the employer's goals and can immediately become part of the team.
'It makes somebody think, 'Wow, this person is really interested in the company, really listened to what I said to them, and already has good ideas,'' Enelow says.
Example: I was thinking about the issues you're having around your new product launch, and, as I think more about it, I might offer the following suggestions ...
4. Dismiss any potential objections
Whether interviewers verbally bring up an objection during an interview or you could just sense their unease, the thank you note is a good place to address potential issues head-on and dispel any scepticism.
Example: For the past 15 years I've used a number of different financial management software packages, and I'm sure it won't take me any time to get up to speed with yours.
5. Reference your conversation
If you developed a comfortable rapport with your interviewer, Rubin suggests making the note more chummy by ending with a reference to your conversation.
Example: Thanks again, and I hope you enjoy your weekend at the beach.
Thank you notes need not read long. In fact, Liebman says the shorter the better.
Here's an example of one of the best thank you emails she's received:
While Rubin believes a handwritten note stands out more than an email and is a good option if sent within 48 hours, Liebman suggests forgoing the handwritten note for a few reasons:
• Conventional postal delivery services are referred to as 'snail-mail' for a reason. 'I'm a firm believer in following up with a thank you note less than 24 hours after the interview, while you're still fresh in the interviewer's mind,' Liebman says.
• A handwritten note could get lost in the mail, the secretary could throw it out, or it could end up in a pile of envelopes that don't get opened for months.
• The interviewer might write back to you if you send an email. It's easier to send a follow-up question or continue the conversation when the email is already open on their computer, and emails are easily searchable.
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