Years and years ago (OK, more years than I care to admit), when I first graduated from college, I was told to send thank you notes after interviews. My response, “They should be thanking me for the opportunity to interview me!” For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not really that cocky and arrogant, but I may have been when I first graduated. Isn’t everyone?
Since that time, I’ve changed my tune significantly. A follow-up thank you note is a must. Whether you aced the interview or felt there was room for improvement, the follow-up letter gives you the opportunity to either re-emphasize your strengths or to address and fix any weaknesses that may have come up during the interview.
While what you include in the letter will largely depend on what was covered in the interview, there are two must haves:
1. Thanking the potential employer for taking the time to meet with you, and
2. Telling them how excited you are about the opportunity.
The variable part of the letter depends on what came out of the interview. Was there a skill set in which the potential employer seemed particularly interested, an important need or goal they mentioned that you could help them attain. If so, re-emphasizing how you will bring that skill to bear to help them achieve their goal is an excellent addition to the thank you note.
The follow-up note is also an opportunity to set the record straight if you didn’t answer a question as well as you would have liked. Sometimes nerves take their toll and your tongue gets tied or your memory wigs out, the letter is your chance to craft the perfect answer that you meant to give, but didn’t.
Has anyone not gotten the job because they didn’t send a thank you note? Well, I’ve talk to some hiring managers who’ve said that it’s not a deal breaker, however, when there’s been a close decision between two candidates, the one who made the extra effort to send the note got the job.
Just think of it as a marketing opportunity, a final sales pitch about what a perfect match you are for the position and how much you can benefit the company.