The Modern Interview Thank You Note

Follow That Interview With a Perfectly Worded Message

Oct 09, 2018
Management

By Shadee A. Nowrouzi

SMITH BRAIN TRUST – You’ve applied for a new job and you survived the interview. Congrats! But don’t forget the next, important step: Following up with a thank you note. A properly handled thank you can mean the difference between an offer and a rejection.

Experts say the most important thing a job candidate can do post-interview is to follow up. It’s the best way for a candidate to show interest in the position and express gratitude for the opportunity. It also allows the applicant to remind the interviewer of their qualifications and to demonstrate the type of colleague they will be, if given the job. And, importantly, recruiters today expect a thank you.

“I’m not saying it would disqualify applicants if they do not follow up,” says Rachel Loock, associate director and Executive MBA career coach at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “However, it might make them fall off the recruiter’s timeline.”

While being selected for a job interview suggests you’re a viable candidate for the position, it’s important to keep in mind that recruiters are busy. They are often working to identify new talent, reviewing job applications and resumes, and conducting interviews, all under tight deadlines. To stand out, Loock says, applicants should follow up with recruiters within 24 hours of the job interview.

Today, the preferred communication channel to use when following up with a recruiter is email, Loock says. An email shows you’re respectful of their time. Alternatively, she says, “a handwritten note can be a nice touch and a way to stand out.” She cautions that the follow-up phone call is often less appreciated.

Five things to include

Loock offers this guide for a successful follow-up note:

1. Thank the interviewer for the opportunity and for taking the time to interview you.

2. Restate your interest in the position and the reasons why you would be a good fit for the organization. Feel free to supply a brief, specific example that makes your case.

3. Mention one or two important things you didn’t say during the interview. Ask any relevant lingering questions you might have, but limit those to one or two.

4. Revisit a question that was asked during the interview if you aren’t entirely content with your answer, perhaps clarifying what you had meant to say.

5. Make sure the interviewers have all of the information they require from you and offer to provide additional information, if needed. 

There can be misunderstandings and miscommunication with the hiring process. Following up can help remove those things from the process and cast you in a more positive, professional light.

And if you don’t hear back…

If you are tempted to follow-up again at a later time, then do so, but Loock emphasizes the importance of continuing to be respectful. “If a recruiter says they will give you their decision in two weeks, follow up on the three-week mark,” she says.

Remember, obtaining a new job can be a long process. It’s important to keep in mind that what job applicants do after the interview sheds a light on their character and candidacy as much as what they say and do during the interview.

Shadee A. Nowrouzi is a communications writer at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

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