How Thank You Letters Can Separate You From The Competition

I am often surprised to hear that there is confusion around whether or not to send thank you letters when you are interviewing. I suppose, however, with the number of thank you cards I am still waiting on receiving (from weddings dating back to 2003… yes- still waiting and no- won’t forget!) I guess in this day and age, the practice of courtesy seems to be disappearing.

Although I am not an interviewer, I know plenty of people who are and consider a thank you letter to be VERY important.  Some of the hiring managers that I talk with won’t even consider a candidate if they don’t get a thank you note for their time.  The thank you does not need to be a lengthy detailed note, although some argue that you should continue ‘selling’ yourself, in my opinion, a quick recap of your interview and a simple ‘thank you for your time’ is suffice.

Similar to weddings, birthdays, etc., sending a thank you to potential employers is an absolute must as it not only shows your good manners, you are also reminding them of who you are after an interview. Getting your name back in their minds is crucial for progressing through the interview process.

Of course, now with technology it is even more difficult to figure out how you should send a thank you letter. I follow the below guidelines:

  1. If all of my correspondence with an interviewer has been through e-mail, I will send an e-mail thank you letter to the individual.
  2. If my correspondence has been via phone and/or I consider the interviewer more ‘old school,’ I will send a written thank you letter.
  3. If I know the interview process is moving quickly as the employer wants to fill the position immediately, I will always communicate through e-mail as I do not want to hinder my chances due to the slowness of ‘snail-mail.’

Recently a good friend of mine (we will call her Jane) was interviewing and had the dilemma that the she was not sure of the last names of the people she was interviewing with because the hiring manager was organizing the phone interview. I suggested that she call the hiring manager and ask for the people’s last names and e-mail addresses so she could thank them each personally. Unfortunately, in this case, the information could not be provided (company policy at this organization), and so Jane e-mailed the hiring manager directly and addressed each individual present on the phone interview. Within the e-mail, Jane requested the hiring manager forward her appreciation to each individual.

It is also important to consider when you should send a thank you note. My rule of thumb is to write the letter or e-mail the same day as the interview and send either right away or at least within 24 hours. If you are going to write a thank you note to send, make sure it is in your handwriting and that you use a professional thank you card (in the same section at a stationery store as resume paper and envelopes).

In closing, to separate you from the competition and stay fresh in the minds of your interviewers, write and send a thank you in a timely manner!