Thank-you notes are a must — and not just because your mom says so.
In the age of snappy emails and casual texts, writing a well-worded thank-you note can be intimidating. And knowing that your job prospects ride on it is enough to keep anyone up at night.
A thank-you email after an interview is a reflection of your soft skills: your comfort with expressing gratitude, your willingness to follow through, and your ability to strike a professional and personal chord at work.
Mastering such an important thank-you is both a science and an art. You need the clarity to stick to the rules — keep it succinct and send it in a timely manner — and the finesse to establish a meaningful connection with your future employer.
Here is a detailed look at crafting a post-interview thank-you that’s customizable to your unique strengths and character. You can rest easy now, knowing that when you land an interview for your dream job, your thank-you note will seal the deal.
Emails do the trick
A handwritten letter is a timeless gesture, but it’s not a safe bet because companies expect a quick turnaround. Organizations make hiring decisions fast, and it’s possible the team would make a decision before receiving your handwritten note. With that in mind, write a thank-you note via email. If you’re wincing at the idea of saying thank you digitally, mention that you plan to follow up with a more formal handwritten letter.
You can also take a hybrid approach and send your thank-you via Paperless Post. Their elegant designs bring an extra level of gravity to a post-interview thank-you email without sacrificing the speedy delivery.
Paperless Post’s options include classic thank-yous and online personalized stationery. I like personalized stationery because it reminds interviewers of your name. It only took me a few minutes to create this design below, and you can send it for less than a dollar. With a little bit of effort, you can replicate the charm of to a handwritten note digitally.
Anatomy of a memorable thank-you note
It’s all too easy to plop a name into a post-interview thank-you template — and recruiters know you didn’t write it yourself. If other candidates could have sent your thank-you, it’s not reflective of who you are. Personalization and authenticity are key.
The most effective thank-you notes eschew rambling for brevity and substance. Your note should be two or three paragraphs, with every sentence serving a specific purpose. Rather than giving you a generic template, here’s a breakdown of how to create your own thank-you sentence by sentence:
Gauge the company culture and your rapport with the interviewer to choose a greeting. “Dear Alice” can seem too formal for some employers, and “Hey,” “Hi,” or “Hello” may be too informal for others. If you’re unsure, go with the simplest solution: the interviewer’s name and a comma.
From there, you want to jump right in with the obvious words.
Sample Sentence 1:
“Thank you for meeting with me yesterday.”
To seem warm and engaging, mention something about your interviewer (and their organization) before talking about you.
Sample Sentence 2:
“I really appreciated learning about how your team is disrupting the marketing industry.”
Or something less formal if you have a personal connection with the interviewer.
Alternative Sentence 2:
“I was glad to connect with a fellow Buckeye today!”
As you move along, get more specific. Mention something you connected with the interviewer about during the meeting. If you developed a rapport, there will be a few different touch points — pick the most compelling one.
Sample Sentence 3:
“I enjoyed geeking out over beta testing with you — it’s rare that someone wants to dig into the intricacies of support in this stage of a product!”
If you didn’t build a rapport with the interviewer, you can always harken back to a general topic you both discussed.
Alternative Sentence 3:
“It was a pleasure to talk to you about my experience in SaaS customer service; with nine years in the industry, it’s great to meet someone with the same passion for the field.”
Now, talk about you. Give a sentence (or two) about what you bring to the organization.
Sample Sentence 4:
“I think my background as a support manager at Marketo would translate beautifully to your platform — I know the needs of this customer base, and I enjoy the challenge of helping people navigate a new product in the market.”
You could also share some thoughts on a question they brought up during the meeting or link to relevant work.
Sample Sentence 5:
“By increasing training efforts and working one-on-one with each team member, I’d be able to decrease the customer service response time, just like I did at my current employer (by 20% this year).”
Alternative Sentence 5:
“I know you wanted some more detail on my experience as a manager this year — I attached my final presentation on our team’s customer service achievements below.”
Thank them one more time.
Sample Sentence 6:
“Thank you, again, for taking the time to talk today.”
If you want the job, go ahead and tell them!
Sample Sentence 7:
“I would be thrilled to work for your organization, and I’m looking forward to hearing from you over the coming weeks.”
Keep the sign-off simple.
Avoid the biggest thank you note flubs
Before you click “send,” you need to make sure your thank-you note is polished. Accidentally goofing up is worse than not sending any thanks at all — it can hurt your chances of getting an offer. Here’s a checklist of five ways to avoid the biggest faux pas:
1. Send it within 24 hours
When applying for a position, you always want to show up to interviews on time. Likewise, you always want to send a thank-you email ASAP. Not only is it more likely to give you an edge if it arrives quickly, punctuality reflects well on your character.
2. Match the formality of the employer
A great thank-you note to a finance VP should look different than a note written for a startup. To gauge the formality of the language, look around at the office dress code. If everyone’s wearing suits, your note should be more formal.
3. Make sure they know it’s you
Some people are so nervous they write a thank-you before the interview, keeping it bland and generic. Check your note to make sure you included two references to something specific from the interview or your experience — it helps the company to match a name to the face.
4. Customize each note
If you’re sending a thank-you note to multiple interviewers in the same organization, write a different thank-you card from scratch every single time. If you have writer’s block, follow our sentence-by-sentence guide and write each one out by hand first.
5. Always, always, always proofread
After you’ve drafted and edited your thank-you note, proofread it. Double check to make sure each person’s name is spelled correctly. Now, ask your favorite proofreader to look for glaring — and subtle — mistakes. You can also use a tool like Grammarly, which is a step up from your average spell check. When there’s a fatal flaw like a misspelled name or an incomplete sentence, it can dampen your prospects at the organization.
Writing a thank-you email after an interview can help you hit it out of the park with a future employer. It shows that you have follow-through to connect as a colleague. With these tips, you’re bound to deliver an even better note than before. So, next time you need to write a thank-you email, get started sooner rather than later for the best results.
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Liz writes about business, creativity and making meaningful work. Say hello on Twitter or through her website.
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Many people forget the post-interview work that needs to be done during the PA job search.
But in many cases, the interview is not the end and specific and strategic follow-up can make the difference in getting hired. This article covers the post-interview actions we need to consider to maximize our chances of getting a job offer.
The deplorable state of follow-up
The weakest part of the job search process is often follow-up. It’s so much more than thank you notes, but those aren't even being sent. For PA job seekers, thank you and follow-up communications are not optional; they are required.
Here are the benefits of great follow-up, all of which can put you ahead of another candidate:
1. Shows persistence.
2. Allows you to expand, reinforce, or clarify something discussed in the interview.
3. Good manners are always valued.
4. Prevents them from forgetting about you.
5. Reinforces that you want the job.
Here are the downsides of NOT following up:
- A portion of hiring managers will dismiss an applicant who does not send a post-interview thank you note, saying it indicates poor follow-through and a lack of interest in the position.
- Other candidates will follow up, so you lost an opportunity to compete for that job.
If you were smart, your follow-up began in the interview when you asked, “What is the next step?” or, “When do you plan to make a decision?” With that knowledge, you can time your follow-up post-interview.
The PA Job Applicant Follow Up Solution
Sample PA job search flow of a thank you note
- Start by thanking them for the opportunity to meet and acknowledge that they took time out of their day to do so.
- Next, note why you think you’d be a good fit for the role. No more than 3 reasons. Bullet points are optimal as well. This is an opportunity to elaborate on why you are a great fit, in writing, beyond your initial cover letter and interview.
- In close, hit 3 points:
- Express your interest
- Commit to following up with them again within a specified time-frame
- Thank them, again, for their time and consideration
Sample ideas of follow-up after the thank you note:
- Begin with a pleasantry, followed by a sentence explaining where you left off during your last communication. “You had indicated to me that you’d be making your final decision during the week of <date >, and I just wanted to follow up to see where you are in that decision.”
- Include something of value in your follow-up instead of being perceived as nagging. Perhaps you just completed some training, closed a big deal, or finished a major project. If you are volunteering or taking outside courses while unemployed, talk about that.
- Close with the next follow-up you will initiate. Don’t ask them to call you back. Instead, let them know that “I’ll follow up again within a few days, but in case you need to reach me, here is the best contact number: xxx-xxx-xxxx.”
Follow up letter tricks
- Always appear gracious, positive, patient, and interested. Speak in a very respectful manner if you’re leaving a voicemail message, acknowledging that “I know you are very busy, but I wanted to follow up on the email I sent you and that I’m still very interested in the position.
- When following up with an email, always attach the prior email you are referring to. If there was an attachment to the prior email, reattach it, as appropriate.
- Match the communication medium the interviewer has been using, i.e. returning emails with emails, phone calls with phone calls.
Follow up letter mistakes
- Mistake #1: Scathing follow up emails from job seekers who think they’re out of the running.
- Mistake #2: Rudeness or impatience. If the hiring manager gave you a specific date or timeframe, give them some room. Hiring processes take time and you don’t want to seem overly anxious.
- Mistake #3: One-line emails: “Can you call me back?”
- Mistake #4: Group thank you notes—implies a little laziness and is not personal.
- Mistake #5: In a personal thank you note, your copy and paste didn’t work so it was addressed “Dear Sally” and at the end it said “Thank you, again, Bob.”
- Mistake #6: Misspellings, grammar, punctuation errors. This is another writing sample for the employer!
- Mistake #7: Gimmicks. Do not send flowers, a gift, nothing.
- Mistake #8: Do not have a friend “swing by” the hiring manager’s office and ask, “How is Bob doing for your position hiring. Isn’t he great?”
Follow up letter excuses
- Excuse #1: “I knocked the interview out of the park, so no need to send anything since I’ll get the job.” Well, aside from being too confident (cocky), which could have hurt you in the interview, there is no excuse for not being polite. And what if you were good in the interview, but not great, and the next candidate did send a compelling note?
- Excuse #2: “I don’t have their email address.” Lesson learned. Ask for all email addresses while you are interviewing. However, if you forgot, contact the recruiter, HR manager, or anybody who might be able to give it to you. Simply say, “I would like to send them a thank you note,” so your intention is clear.
- Excuse #3: “Thank you notes seem so phony. I’m not the thank you note type.” First, they should be sincere. Sheer appreciation for their time and for considering you as a candidate should be reason enough to take 5 minutes to review your notes from that meeting and craft a thank you note. Second, if you are not the “thank you note type,” then learn to be one now!
- Excuse #4: “They told me I will not be the final choice for the position, so no need to thank them.” Wrong. You want to add your interviewers to your network and you may want to contact them again. In addition, what if that company has another position that opens up? Take the high road and always, always send a thank you note and stay in touch after that. In your thank you note, you may say, “If another position opens up within your organization, I am interested in being considered.”
- Write a template thank you note and follow-up note based on the above guidance and by collecting many samples available online. Save them in your well-organized file.
- Review your samples with at least one person and get their feedback.
- Be sure you note every time you need to send a thank you note and place that reminder in your Outlook Calendar or other calendar technology.
Sample Physician Assistant Thank You Letters (Download)
Five thank you and follow up templates for email or print covering special situations. New graduate, follow-up questions, request for references and more. Includes bonus reference request template and pre-formatted MS Word templates for print.
The blog post is based on the book Cut the Crap, Get a Job! a New Job Search Process for a New Era. It's the third in this series.
What a world-class follow-up looks like
- You send a note within 24-48 hours while it’s still fresh in your mind—and the company’s.
- You address a note to each individual person you met with
- You Spell everyone’s name correctly, including the company’s
View all posts in this series
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