In a tight job market where there are more people looking for jobs than there are open positions, it's important to do as much as possible to stand out from the competition.
One element of the process that may get overlooked is sending a thank-you note after a job interview, and career expert Amanda Augustine says not sending one would be a mistake.
In fact, according to a TopResume survey of 334 hiring managers between August and September of this year, 68% said a post-interview thank-you email — or lack thereof — takes on greater importance when evaluating a candidate today than it did prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Augustine says she's seen the important role a thank-you note can play when it comes down to a handful of final candidates. She recalls the story of a client who didn't land an account management job and was told a lack of follow-up weakened her candidacy. As Augustine recalls, "they told her, 'we were surprised you didn't send a thank-you note after we met. We liked you, but frankly, that's what cut you out of the running for an account management position. We need someone who will be actively engaged and follow up with clients regularly.'"
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Augustine says more often than not, a genuine thank-you message can go a long way in leaving a good impression with a hiring manager. Here are her tips for sending one that will set you apart from the crowd.
Email each person you interviewed with individually
Today, especially with many people working remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's enough to email a note to your interviewer rather than try to track down a mailing address. Make sure to get each person's full name and email address in order to send a follow-up within 24 hours of your interview.
Augustine says it's preferable to send a note to each individual rather than as a group, and customize each one based on your conversation: "If you're going to go through effort of writing a thank-you note, you'll lose the impact if they're all identical," she says.
To personalize your message, refer back to any small talk you two had during the interview, any commonalities you share or something about how your roles would work together directly if you join the team.
"Incorporate what you can into that note to remind them of the rapport you were building, and also to jog their memory about which candidate you are if they were interviewing a lot of people," Augustine says.
Keep it short and follow this formula
Your message should be short, direct and engaging, Augustine says. Keep your email to a maximum of two short paragraphs, and include about a sentence to accomplish each of the following:
- Thank your interviewer for their time
- Reiterate your interest in the role
- Incorporate something you learned about them as a person or a colleague
- Remind them of why they should be excited to hire you
Augustine says to think about your note as a way to build your rapport with the interviewer and advance you to the next stage in the process.
Address concerns and highlight your strengths
A thank-you note can also be a good place to address any concerns about your candidacy, which may be more crucial now if you're applying to a role outside your traditional career path.
"If there was something they pulled apart or mentioned certain skills you may be lacking, this is your opportunity to reinforce what you've done to fill that gap, or relate to something else you did that shows your strengths," Augustine says.
The beauty of a digital note is that you can also hyperlink to another source that adds more context about your skills. For example, if your interviewer wanted to know more about a previous video campaign you worked on, you can easily send them a link to the published piece so they can see your work themselves.
Ultimately, you want to thank your interviewer for taking time to meet with you, show them you've taken away something from your discussion and provide new information that will move your candidacy to the next step.
"The best notes we've seen are ones where it's clear they put thought into what they learned about us during the interview process," Augustine says. "They thought about something we said to them that prompted them to tell us more about their experience that hadn't come up in previous conversation. It shows they're taking the process seriously and connecting the dots."