Most of us know that interviewees are supposed to send a thank you note. Back until not too long ago, these were supposed to be handwritten note cards, ideally pre-written and dropped off at the front desk as you left the interview. I always thought that was insincere... how can you say anything if you've written it before the interview even happened? But no matter, we don't do that anymore. After listening to interviewer after interviewer after coach after specialist, these days, thank you emails are widely accepted and often even preferred.
Another thought to consider might be that if they really want you, they'll hire you even if you don't send that thank you email. But why would you risk hurting yourself by not sending it? You show you know etiquette and have proper manners - It can only be beneficial to you.... you'd think.
So let's make sure this follow-up email you send ACTUALLY WILL BE BENEFICIAL!
WHAT NOT TO DO
Why don't I start with an example of what NOT to do. A few days ago, I was at my favorite coffee shop and I am standing in line to order my coffee... And as I am standing there waiting, there are two men sitting next to me at a table. One of them looks at his phone and says the to the other:
"Oh man! Listen to this! I interviewed this guy last week, and here's the email
he just sent me." At this point, he lets out a little chuckle. "I just wanted to
follow up on whether did I met the qualifications of the opened position?"
This is not a drill. This really happened! Ok... I HAD to jump in and ask what that person was interviewing for. Turns out he interviewed at a small, privately-owned furniture design store in Long Beach, called 'Trebor Nevets' to be a graphic designer. This business designs custom, new and vintage furniture as well as fine art. Do graphic designers there (or anywhere) have to write? Not so much. If they write, does it ever go out to the public? Not so much. Did the owner still want him to be able to write intelligently? Yes, sir! And mind you - this is a small business. If even the small ones care about this so much, what do you think the reaction will be at big corporations where your competition is even steeper?
NOW HERE'S WHAT'S IMPORTANT: After the man was done quoting the email, he laughed and said: "Well, THAT just disqualified him. I mean, he was a nice guy and we had a good talk, but this did it."
So... I honestly don't even know where to start. There are so many things wrong with this note. So let's start with the very basic:
A) YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO WRITE!!!
Unless you're a math or accounting major and you're a genius at numbers and that's what you do all day long in the back of a store while never facing any other human being, you better know basic writing! I can absolutely not stress that enough! I know your professors tell you all the time and you don't listen. START LISTENING! If you can't see anything wrong with the note this interviewee sent to Mr. Sarinana, then you're in deep shit and should probably reconsider graduating and taking some basic writing classes first. Seriously!
Let's assume you CAN see at least some of the things wrong with it and you DO have basic (and hopefully advanced) knowledge of grammar and spelling. Let's remember that this is not the time to get lazy. You put all this work in your resume and cover letter and preparing for an interview... you can spend 10 more minutes on a thank you note.
THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GET LAZY!
Your interview may have went outstanding. You can still ruin it - remember, you're not yet hired! A little thing such as a bad thank you note may ruin it for you! If your interview did not go so hot, you still write that note. Who knows - your perception might be wrong and they really did like you. If nothing else, you still show them that you follow protocol and you are polite. So what do we do?
B) YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT TO ACTUALLY PUT IN THAT NOTE
#1: WE LEARN TO SAY THANK YOU
You say thank you every time you get a present, right? How much more valuable is getting an interview? So we learn how to write one sentence properly:
Here it is (copy and paste if you have to): "Thank you so much for meeting with me this morning to talk about your open position as BLANK. It was a pleasure meeting you and I am honored you are considering me to work with you."
Proofread your note before sending! Then proofread it again. Pay attention to the details! If you are weak at writing, have someone proofread that note for you. Do not send it off before being sure that it is free of mistakes. If you are the worst writer and have no one to proofread, end with this statement. Put your name under it and send.
#2: WE LEARN WHAT TO WRITE IN A THANK YOU NOTE
A thank you note consists of three basic paragraphs.
First paragraph: You say thank you and show appreciation! (That's kind of the whole point.) See #1 for directions.
Second paragraph: You reiterate shortly your qualifications based on the interview (where you hopefully asked what qualities they are looking for in the perfect candidate) and repeat why you would be that perfect candidate.
Third paragraph: You tell them very quickly why you want to work at THIS company, and look forward to hearing back from them soon.
#3: WE USE THEIR TONE
How did they talk to you during the interview? Was it really relaxed? Was everyone very formal? Did they wear suits or jeans? Did they sit upright or lounge in their chairs? Did they joke around or were they serious? Were they high-ranking executives or entry-level personnel? Reflect that tone and hit it right. Don't crack a joke, don't be sarcastic... it can't be read properly in a written document. But do keep that tone in mind when you address them (first name or last name?), when you end (Sincerely yours, or All my best), when you write all in between (should you strike a casual or formal tone? What examples would be appropriate to bring up?).
C) YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT NOT TO PUT IN THAT NOTE
#1: The thank you note is NOT the time to ask if you're qualified.
I hate calling someone a moron... but dude... you just went through an interview! You think they like wasting their time on interviewing people they don't consider qualified? Guess what: If you get an interview, you're qualified! Now is the time to be confident! This is the time to tell them: Good choice! Here is exactly why I am qualified, you won't regret hiring me! If you send a note full of mistakes... guess what: You are disqualifying yourself!
#2: It is also NOT the time to be long or elaborate.
Do you know how many emails executives get every hour? They don't want to read an essay about you. If you told them you'll get back to them with an answer about a question they had, you put it there as shortly as you can. If you didn't get to talk about something you really wanted to mention and it is vital to mention this, you do it here, but you do it as brief as humanly possible! Keep it short, short, short! Pyramid style: Most important first!
#3: It is lastly NOT the time to make mistakes.
Remember in writing, the most important thing is the beginning and the end of your paragraph. Everything in between, the reader skims over. Same in the interviewing process. You start out strong with cover letter and resume and you finish strong with that thank you note. There is no room to get lazy! It literally takes 10 minutes to write that note - finish strong! And do finish. Do write that note and make sure it is perfect. Writing a note like the person in my example above is simply unacceptable and will most certainly disqualify you. How are you a convincing professional if you can't even write one simple sentence right? Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes. Would you invest a lot of money into someone who will represent your company this way?
D) YOU LATHER, RINSE AND REPEAT AS NEEDED
If you get a second interview, you DO the same thing again - but make sure to not WRITE the same thing again! Now you customize your note to that second interview. You're still honored, you're even more excited, you reiterate a strength not mentioned the first time around (now even shorter or you may leave it out altogether), you thank them again, you close. You do it every time you interview, with everyone you interview with! Make sure you customize every note for everyone you talk to - they may compare them! If it's the lowest level-bottom-of-the-food-chain-person in the company you talk to - you show the same respect you show to the CEO! You are just as grateful and appreciative to them. It won't go unnoticed.
Thanks for reading - hopefully you rock now and get that job!