Writing a solid Thank You Note can be scary business for many candidates. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to read tons of Thank You Notes and to provide insights for candidates as to the value of doing so. It’s one of those odd things. Add too much detail or make it too lengthy and you’ve lost your competitive edge, particularly if you’ve unintentionally showed the hiring manager a flaw in your writing skills. On the flipside, not writing a Thank You Note can be equally detrimental and could very well be the end of your candidacy.
A Thank You Note should be well thought out. Don’t rush it! The note serves as a strategic tool in adding another data point as to why you’re the right individual for the position. Below are some things to think about when crafting a Thank You Note after an interview.
It’s good form. It’s always good form to thank an interviewer for their time in discussing a position. That may seem obvious to most folks, but what many miss is the amount of time and effort on the other side of the fence to coordinate multiple schedules with the interview team to talk with you. Essentially they’re being asked to step away from their full-time job with all of its demands and deadlines, to chat with someone they don’t know. For consulting firms in particular this can be quite costly. That is, to remove a consultant from billable time for example. After all, time is money!
Make it meaty. Is not uncommon for candidates to CC me on their Thank You Notes that they send to hiring managers. It’s usually at this point in the interview I either smile (thumbs up) or cringe (BIG Thumbs down). The ones that are most impressive are those who have recapped the essence of their interview/conversation in written form.
This shows the hiring manager that you were attentive during the conversation, that you can recap conversations (typical in daily business life), and provides them with an ad-hoc writing sample. The poor thank you notes are those that simply say… “Thank you for your time and looking forward to next steps”. Further, this is also your opportunity to take what you’ve learned during the interview and map your skills to the position’s requirements, thereby showing the hiring manager that you are the best choice. For example, “…we discussed this…, that… and the other thing… and my skills here…, here… and over here… would be beneficial because of this… and that….”
The follow up answer maneuver. The other important reason for a Thank You Note is that it provides you with an opportunity to re-answer a question in an interview that perhaps you didn’t answer as well as you could have. For many of us we do our best thinking upon reflection. We all have said it to ourselves one time or another, “I shouldn’t have answered that question that way. I know better than that, what was I thinking?” A good thank you note gives you an opportunity to go back in time to restate your answer(s).
And don’t forget! Add a signature. Remember also that this is business correspondence and it should be inclusive of a signature at the bottom of your email. As you may recall from high school business communication class there’s the date, salutation, body, and signature. Nowadays in the world of Internet cyber communication, it’s equally important to sign your name and include your contact details as the closure to your Thank You Note. It looks and feels much more professional.
Never do this! Don’t send pictures of your family regardless of how great and friendly was the conversation with the interviewer. For instance your kids dressed in a costume or you on the beach. Don’t laugh! I’ve seen it.
Dan Counts, Founder of Fairwinds Recruiting (Twitter @FairwindsRcrtg) is a recruiter/coach for candidates and clients, specializing in the software and consulting industries for Enterprise Performance Management (Oracle/Hyperion), Cloud ERP, Business Intelligence, Data Science/Big Data, Cyber Risk Security, Sales, and Product Management. His hands-on positive style as an advisor to candidates and clients provides an environment for redefining the recruitment experience one placement at a time, resulting in better long-term matches. Residing in Monterey, CA near Silicon Valley, he works with boutique firms to large companies nationwide. In his free time he enjoys sailing, hiking/walking, woodworking and most recently home coffee roasting. You can check out his website at www.fairwindsrecruiting.com.