The job-seeking world has changed in countless ways since the advent of the Internet, social media, smart phones and text messaging. In spite of today’s increased digital communication, a handwritten thank you letter remains not only a smart move, but is also an ideal method to express your gratitude for the interview opportunity.
As you write your letter, remember this: A thank you letter should not be a source of stress. It can be simple and to the point, or more in-depth, but it’s really a matter of common courtesy.
The type of thank you letter you send should be based on your status in the interview process. For example, a short note is most appropriate following a first interview. Despite its brevity, the note should include a message to the person or people conducting the interview, thanking them for taking the time to speak with you about the position and letting them know that you’re interested in the opportunity to work with their company. Be sure to be specific so that it doesn’t have the feel of a form letter. Include your contact information as a subtle reminder for follow-up communication. This is the type of thank you note that is most often effective in old-school, handwritten style.
A more in-depth thank you letter is most appropriate when you’re further into the interview process. This kind of letter would include specific points discussed in the interview and how you plan to address them. You might consider a more in-depth letter after a second interview, particularly a group interview. This is your chance to reiterate what it is that makes you THE candidate for this job. What do you bring to the table that is going to ensure that everyone agrees you’re the best fit for the position? It’s also an opportunity to let the interview team know — again — how interested you are in the position. This letter, since it may be for more than one person, might be most appropriate for email, provided you’ve already been communicating with the prospective employer in that channel.
Another option, particularly when you’re even deeper into the interview process, is a formal hiring proposal. The proposal might include a specific plan for being hired, such as goals and the timeline in which you hope to achieve those goals. Depending on how the business operates, you may consider breaking these milestones down by month, quarter or other appropriate increment of time. Projecting an aura of confidence and articulating the talents and expertise that you bring can go a long way toward winning the job. This is another follow-up that might be best sent via email.
Finally, now that you’ve written the most appropriate follow-up letter for your circumstances, when should you send it? It’s best to send your letter as soon as possible—ideally, that means within 24 hours after your job interview. If you wait too long, the note will seem irrelevant. Worse, the job seeker may conclude that you lag behind when it comes to deadlines, which could damage your chances of getting the job. Send it promptly, and once your prospective employer receives your thank you note, you’ll stand out as a polite, interested and enthusiastic job seeker — just the sort of person the company would want to hire.