Post-interview Thank You Notes

Posted October 28, 2011
By Clay Cerny

Every career expert claims to have the magic answer to writing a thank you note.  As I’ve written before, I don’t claim to have all the answers.  My strategy for writing a thank you note follows these principles: 

  1. Keep it short
  2. Keep it positive
  3. Focus on what the interviewer cared most about during the interview
  4. End by saying you want the job

I’d recommend no more than 6-7 sentences for a thank you letter.  First, thank the company and mention the position.  Second, speak to the interviewer’s concern.  Three, ask to move forward and say you want the job.

What about format?  Handwritten or email?  I think email works if you take the time to craft a good letter.  Some people that I greatly respect insist that handwritten is the only way to go.  If you want to take the time and make the effort to send a handwritten note, be sure you do so the same day you interview. 

Here’s a good trick for learning what matters most to an interviewer.  Most interviewers will let you ask questions.  Your last question should be:  “What is the most important quality you are looking for in a [sales manager]?”  If the interviewer says someone who can build a team, briefly affirm why you are a team builder.  If she says somebody who hits the number, talk about how you meet/exceed goals.  Next, when you’re writing your thank you letter, come back to this point and again affirm that you can deliver the most important quality.

Don’t send generic thank you letters.  They only say I don’t care.  Speak to the person who interviewed you and show that you care about her biggest concern. That will be the best way to make an impression.