Writing Your Interview Thank You Note: When to Send It and What to Include
If you left an interview and are hoping for a callback, sending a thank you note is non-negotiable.
“Don't miss this crucial step in the interview process,” says Ryan Bradshaw, Director of Recruiting for Apollo Technical, an IT and engineering recruitment firm.
“There are hiring managers that will not even consider candidates who haven't sent [a thank you note]. Make sure you get the hiring manager's email during the interview.”
By sending a thank you note, you’ll not only reiterate your interest in the company but also demonstrate your professionalism.
In addition, there are ways you can leverage your note’s content to stand out from other applicants, increasing your chances of landing the job.
To help you as you craft your note, we spoke to recruiters and hiring managers to get their take on the following questions.
We also provide an interview thank you note template you can use.
- When should I send a thank you note after an interview?
- Should I send an email or handwritten note?
- What should I include in my interview thank you note?
- How long should I wait to follow up if I don’t hear back from a recruiter?
- Is it okay to follow up multiple times after an interview?
When should I send a thank you note after an interview?
You want to send a thank you note shortly after your interview – but not too soon!
“If you send a thank you e-mail immediately after an interview, it can actually come off as desperate and unprofessional,” says Mathew Bjorngaard, who has been interviewing candidates for finance positions at IBM for over two years.
Bjorngaard suggests waiting at least until the day after your interview, which “makes for a good reminder for the interviewer and comes off as more relaxed.”
Anjela Mangrum, Founder and President of Mangrum Career Solutions agrees.
"Some people say to do it the next day, but I think it works a little bit better to spread out your contacts over a longer period of time," she explains.
"It allows you to make a bigger impact each time."
Should I send an email or handwritten note?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both emails and handwritten notes.
Sending an email is the safer route, as “it's faster and you don't have to worry about a thank you note getting lost in the mail,” says Bradshaw.
A handwritten thank you note adds a personal touch that is simply unmatched by an email.
Mangrum says that while a handwritten note may allow you to highlight your personality, it should still remain professional.
"If you're the creative type and really enjoy the magic of putting together a nice little note with a special touch - whether that's using your own artwork, calligraphy or handmade paper - be sure it's tasteful and still makes the professional statement you're aiming for," she recommends.
"There's no value in sending in your most recent arts and crafts project if it doesn't uphold your professional image at the end of the day."
If you go prefer to go the handwritten route, also consider writing your note in the lobby after your interview and leaving it with the receptionist to avoid the risk of it getting delayed or lost in the mailroom.
What should I include in my interview thank you note?
“Everybody shows up on time, everybody follows up, everybody sends a thank you note,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal.
“You have to do something to stand out.”
Generally speaking, your thank you note should accomplish the following five goals:
- Say “thank you,” of course
- Reiterate your interest in the position
- Mention something you discussed / that impressed you / that your recently read about
- Tell them you look forward to hearing more
- Let them know when you’ll follow up
Clayton said the best note he received was from an applicant for a project manager position.
With her note, she “sent an article from the trade publication that tied into what we discussed during the interview. It showed me that she was engaged, knew our industry and was thinking about ways to contribute to the team.”
You should consider leveraging a similar strategy.
If you email your note, consider including a headshot in your signature or Gmail profile picture as well.
"The visual aid of your face will be a great way to jog their memory about you and remind them of your interview," says Mangrum.
When it comes to your content, keep it concise.
Bjorngaard shared the following interview thank you note template, which you can adapt:
I want to thank you for the opportunity to interview for [position] last [day of interview]. I really appreciate your time and your willingness to answer my question about [interview callback].
After our discussion, I firmly believe my experience with [qualification] would make me an asset to [company].
I'm excited to learn more about what the role entails, and I look forward to hearing back about the position.
All the best,
How long should I wait to follow up if I don’t hear back from a recruiter?
Before you start calling or emailing your contacts, be sure to wait at least one week from the date you sent a thank you note.
To prevent any hesitation or confusion as to when you should follow up, Kim Chan, a lawyer and founder of DocPro, recommends asking the interviewer when you should expect to hear back.
That way, you can simply check in if you haven’t heard anything by that date.
“It is important to be polite, sincere and indicate that you are very keen on the job,” she said.
“If the employer is deciding between two similar candidates, it would pick the one that is more interested in the opportunity.”
Chan notes that you can be bit a bit more forward if you have another offer on the table.
“If you have an offer on hand but are waiting for a job that you are more interested in, you can politely let the potential employer that kept you waiting know,” she says.
“If the employer is interested, it is likely to give you an offer immediately.”
Is it okay to follow up multiple times after an interview?
Remember that there is a fine line between appearing interested and looking desperate.
“Following up once should be sufficient,” says Bradshaw. “You don't want to seem like you are pestering the company.”
Bradshaw notes that often candidates aren’t given a firm “no” because the company hasn’t completely ruled them out or because their interview processes are dragging on (sometimes for months).
“If you have not heard back in several weeks, you should assume they have decided on a different candidate or put the position on hold until you are told otherwise,” he says.
Ben Lamarche, General Manager of Lock Search Group, says that silence typically means you are no longer in consideration.
"Usually, recruiters do not contact candidates who are not moving forward in the process," he explains.
"Sometimes, [recruiters] may make verbal commitments to follow up and let candidates know either way, and one hopes they would keep their word in those cases. However, that's not necessarily the norm in most industries."
Michael Trust, SPHR and HR consultant, shared a similar sentiment, saying that “in an ideal world, a ‘no’ would be given.”
“That’s polite. It’s uncommon. After a couple of weeks, unless a different timeline was given in the interview, assume you didn’t get it.”
In today’s competitive hiring market, you want to make the best impression possible.
A well-written thank you note will allow you to do just that.
If you still need to polish your CV, make sure that your bullet points are achievement-oriented and tailored to your target role.
These strategies will help ensure your CV passes initial scans by applicant tracking systems, which many recruiters use to keep track of and filter applicants.
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