This past weekend, a young woman asked me, “Do I really need to send a thank-you note after my interview?”
I simply will not hire anyone who doesn’t send a timely thank-you note following the job interview. Several other hiring managers I’ve worked with feel the same way.
So, the answer is, unequivocally, YES. During a job search, candidates should most definitely send a follow-up email to prospective employers after an on-site interview, an informational interview, a phone interview or an in-person interview.
Why it’s important to send a thank-you note.
It's good etiquette.
If I’m considering hiring you, I want to know more than just what you say and how you present yourself. I want to know what you do. And I’m going to gather that information by evaluating what you do after the meeting.
I want to know whether your communication style is a good fit for me and my team. When you write a thank you letter (or don’t), you are demonstrating your follow-up skills. From your approach to the follow-up email, I’m evaluating your project management skills and whether your written communication is compelling. I can also tell whether you can be creative and thoughtful.
If you met with several people, send them personalized emails. (Which means you should take notes during the interviews so you can remember who said what.)
You need to show that you’re interested in the job.
On average, 100 people apply for each open position according to ERE. Hiring managers want to hire people who are eager to have the job offer, so communicate your excitement about the job through your email follow up — and make it prompt; in my opinion, you should follow up via email the same day under all circumstances.
If you aren’t clear in your intent and desires, you can be certain someone else will be — and they’ll get the job instead of you.
Several people have asked me, “What about a handwritten note? Or sending a thank you card?” While I think a handwritten note is a lovely gesture in theory, I’m afraid it’s a bit obsolete in the age where everyone has an email address. Plus, they just don’t have the immediacy — so I may have already made a decision about you before the snail mail makes its way to me.
If a written thank you note or letter is a part of your personal style and you’re attached to it, then send it in addition to the email follow up.
You're showing good manners.
In addition to evaluating whether you can adequately perform the duties of the job, any good hiring manager is also using the interview process to determine whether you are someone they would actually want to work with. In my personal experience, it’s always important to find someone to hire who can fit well with the company culture, get along with others, and represent our team and company admirably when I can’t be there.
If you don’t write a thank you note or email, especially after an in-person interview, I’d have to question whether you have the kind of manners that would make you a positive addition to the team. The absence of a note is just not a good idea doesn't help the impression you're trying to make.
Even if you don’t want the job, you should ALWAYS still send an interview follow-up email, because every time you interview, you are making an impression and a new possible connection. It’s a small, small world and you never know how your path may cross again.
5 thank-you note samples
1. Sample: Short and simple.
Appropriate for: most contexts.
Thanks so much for meeting with me yesterday. It was lovely to meet you and learn more about the editorial assistant role.
I'm so excited about the opportunity to work closely with you and your amazing authors. I've been a long-time fan of [Author] and it would be a dream to work on the behind-the-scenes aspects of her books.
Please don't hesitate to contact me if you'd like any further information about my references or qualifications. I look forward to hearing from you.
2. Sample: Detailed.
Appropriate for: most contexts.
Thanks so much for meeting with me to discuss the editorial assistant role at X Publisher today. I really appreciate your taking the time to show me the inner-workings of the office and meet with the team.
X Publisher has such an impressive roster of authors — I'm a particular fan of [Author 1] and [Author 2]. I so enjoyed your behind-the-scenes peek at the editorial process with Author 1's first novel. (As a side note, literary fiction is my favorite genre, and given how many of your authors have bestselling novels in this area, this seems like the perfect fit.)
I think my experience interning at Y Publisher and my strong organizational skills and attention to detail will mesh well with your team. I'd love to have a hand in assisting you with communicating with your authors and providing preliminary notes on manuscripts.
I'm excited to discuss the next steps in the hiring process. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions.
3. Sample: Formal.
Appropriate for: business with formal office settings and panel interviews.
Dear Ms. Jones:
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me about the research assistant role yesterday. I enjoyed our discussion about your work in personality theory, and I look forward to reading more of your publications to learn more about your research.
I believe my internship at X Clinic, my interest in psychology theory and practice, my organizational skills and my attention to detail will make me an asset to your team. I look forward to gaining further experience under your guidance.
4. Sample: Informal.
Appropriate for: internal hires or hiring managers with whom you already have a professional relationship.
It was so great to meet with you and learn more about the editorial assistant yesterday! As you know, I'm an avid reader of literary fiction, and it would be fantastic to work with you on your amazing list. Thanks for giving me a copy of Author 1's latest bestseller — I can't wait to dive in.
Looking forward to hearing more details about the role and speaking with you further.
5. Sample: Unique.
Appropriate for: most contexts, especially when there's a competitive position on the line and you want to stand out.
It was such a pleasure to meet with you to discuss the editorial assistant role at X Publisher yesterday. I'm so impressed by your author list — as you know, Author 1 is one of my absolute favorite authors of all time, and it would be a thrill to work on her books with you.
I also wanted to pass along this terrific op-ed I saw in The New York Times today — I think it really speaks to our discussion about the changing literary tastes of readers during the pandemic. I'd be curious about your thoughts on it.
I'll be following up with my notes on the manuscript you gave me shortly. I've already started reading and can't wait to finish!
Thank-you note template.
Thank you — (position you applied for) interview
Hi (interviewer name),
Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me today! After our conversation, I'm even more excited about the potential to become a (position name) at (company name). Based on what you told me about (x, y, and z — topics discussed in the interview, ideally) within the company, I see this position as an excellent match for my values and skillset. Given the opportunity, I truly believe I could be of value to you in (x, y, and z ways).
I look forward to hearing from you. And if there's any additional information with which I can provide you, please don't hesitate to let me know.
How long do you wait to send a thank you letter after an interview?
The short answer? You DON’T wait! Send a follow-up thank-you email as soon as you gather yourself, the notes you have, and any questions you might need further clarification on. Don’t wait longer than 24 hours before sending a thank you email. By then you’ll already be forgotten.
When you do follow up, remember to explicitly thank your interviewer and anyone you came in contact with throughout the interview. You can include comments and questions you might have post-interview, but every email should include a thank you.
And there you have it! That wasn't so hard, was it?
Romy Newman is President of Fairygodboss and the co-founder. She's on a mission to improve the workplace for women by creating greater transparency. Prior to founding Fairygodboss, Romy spent over ten years at The Wall Street Journal, Google and Estee Lauder, where she held various leadership roles. Romy earned her BA from Yale University and her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.