The Three E's

Etiquette, Ethics and Empathy in the Workplace (and in Life)

 

Jeanne Nelson

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Tuesday
Jun242014

Job Search Series - Nailing the Interview - Part 9

The Post-Interview Written Thank-You


No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.
~ James Allen

You’ve reached the end of your interview, or in some cases several interview sessions. Do you feel as though you’ve nailed it and the prize is yours? Or aren't you sure? In any case, now is not the time to drop the ball! You need to implement your follow-up strategy, starting with your written thank-you.

According to a 2011 survey by CareerBuilder, even if you're a good fit for the position, failing to send a written thank-you could eliminate you from consideration. If your interview went well, your follow-up thank you letter will reinforce your standing; if the interview did not go so well your letter could help to turn things around. Your thank-you letter might even edge out a competing candidate who failed to follow up. There are never any guarantees, but covering this important base can improve or solidify your chances.

Send your thank-you correspondence within 24 hours of the interview. The form it takes depends on the industry, company, type of interview and interviewer’s stated preference, if any. Moreover, a written thank-you must be sent following every subsequent interview session.

Following are the styles and examples of the optimal forms:

Typed Snail-Mail Letter

Typed on your high-quality printed or embossed personal stationery (with your name and optionally your address and phone number), this approach will provide you with an opportunity to restate important points and make some new ones. Your letter should be concise, no more than one page, customized to the interview and your interviewer and include the following points:

  1. Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to interview and for his or her time and interest. 
  2. Reiterate your qualifications and match to the position and culture of the company.
  3. Mention any high points of the interview; mention something interesting the interviewer said. 
  4. Incorporate any important point(s) not covered in the interview, either due to time constraints or a lapse. Include/enclose any promised or helpful additional information or documents.
  5. Conclude by restating your interest in the position and the company. Do not say that you will call or contact the interviewer; that is often perceived as too forward or arrogant and could land your letter and your chances in the reject pile. 

Pay attention, as well, to technicalities: 

  1. Use the friendly comma instead of the cold colon after the addressee's name.  
  2. Confirm if your addressee is Mr./Ms. or Dr., or in rare cases, "Mrs."
  3. Be sparing and judicious in your use of the exclamation point.
  4. Use the complimentary closing, “Sincerely,” which is most widely accepted business closing. Alternatively, depending on the company and situation, the following less formal closings are also acceptable: Best regards, Best wishes, Kind regards.
  5. Proofread your letter aloud twice for typos, misspellings and other errors; then ask a trusted friend or family member to proofread. A typo can be the death knell.

Example:

(Date)

(Name of Interviewer)
(Title)
(Name of Department)
(Name of Company)
(City, State, Zip Code)

Dear (Name of Interviewer),

Thank you for inviting me to discuss the opening for the position of staff assistant at Random Harvest Natural Foods, Inc.’s corporate office. After our very informative session, I am even more convinced that my qualifications strongly match the requirements of the position. My degree in business administration and my internship experiences at both the Community Food Co-op and in the processing department at EatRite’s regional headquarters -- in which I was trained to use the company’s Enterprise Resource Planning application – has provided me with an excellent foundation for supporting your team. In addition, as a significant portion of the position involves research, my two-year campus job as research assistant to three professors has prepared me well. My written and oral skills will also be helpful as, if requested, I am prepared to make presentations and issue reports on behalf of the team.

My desire to join your team and commit to Random Harvest’s growth in the industry was increased by your description of the innovative structure of your department and the exciting projects in the pipeline.

Thank you, again, for your time and consideration. If I can provide you with any additional information, please contact me at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. I am tremendously interested in the position and look forward to hearing from you about a decision.

Sincerely,

(Your Name – and contact information if it's not on your letterhead)

P.S. During our discussion, you expressed interest in reading a paper I wrote in college on the economics and ethics of food labeling; I was able to locate it and have enclosed a copy.

Encl.

Email

Observe the spirit, rules and technicalities of the business letter, as described above. Writing to a prospective employer requires a formal email rather than the less formal one you would write to a coworker or casual one you would write to a friend.

Use the business formal salutation, “Dear,” avoiding “hello,” “hi,” and at all costs the word, “hey.” Even with less formal companies and industries it’s best to be conservative.

Many competitive positions require two weeks or more to get through all the interviews and deliberations. Therefore, sending your formal letter within 24 hours is usually acceptable. However, if you know or suspect that a decision will be made sooner, cover your bases by first sending an email on the same day, and then follow up with your formal letter the next day. 

Don’t use “cc’s” or “bcc’s.” Especially in the case of a panel interview send a separate email addressed to each person, as in the examples below. Make each email slightly different, focusing on something particular to each person. It's likely that your emails will be compared or forwarded, so don't send a-one-size-fits-all missive! This also applies to sending formal snail-mail letters in the event your first interview consisted of a panel.

Examples:

Dear Dr. Smith, 

Thank you very much for the opportunity to interview with your team today. Before the interview I was very enthusiastic about the position, but after hearing more about it and the ABC Corporation my desire to join the company and your department is stronger than ever. As the interview progressed, it became even more apparent to me that my experience and skills comprise a strong match to the position and to meet your department’s goals and challenges. In particular, your mentioning the initiative that your department is undertaking with XXX was especially enticing as I have experience in testing and implementing that system. Please let me know if you require further information. I couldn't be more interested in this position.

Sincerely,

(Your name)
(Your Telephone Number)

Dear Mr. Jones,

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to interview with you, Dr. Smith, and other members of the team today. Your description of the types of projects your team tackles as well as the new department initiative and overall company direction served to increase my already keen interest in the position and the ABC Corporation. During the discussion, I felt even more confident that my experience and skills match well with your requirements. I appreciate both the time you took to meet with me and your encouraging comments. I hope that my presentation met your expectations, and that I’ll be hearing from you soon. My interest in this position couldn't be stronger.

Sincerely,

(Your name)
(Your Telephone Number)

Handwritten or Typed Note

The handwritten thank-you note on your high-quality personal note card is usually reserved for social occasions. But, it may also be used following a subsequent interview session, as you've already sent your formal letter and / or formal email following the initial interview. A handwritten note is especially appropriate following a follow-up luncheon interview (this topic will be covered in next week’s entry). Note that such a note may be typewritten, especially if you are restricted by a disability or have illegible handwriting.

Handwritten or Typed Note Example:

Dear (Name of Interviewer or Host)

Thank you for inviting me to lunch, which turned out to be both enjoyable and informative. Not only did you introduce me to the delicious Croque Madame (I was happy to learn that there is equal opportunity even among sandwiches!), but your news that the ABC Corporation just acquired the XYZ Company was very exciting. My mouth was watering over more than just lunch. May I say again how eager I am to join your company and your team? 

Best regards,

(Your name)

To Be Avoided

Unless the interviewer specifically requests or instructs you to do so, the following tactics should be avoided:

  1. Texting is much too familiar and casual and crosses the boundaries of good taste and professionalism; and to many it appears immature. 
  2. Hand-delivering your communiqué can be construed as stalking or creepy; it’s advisable to keep a respectful distance and restraint following the interview. 
  3. Although some employers don’t mind a thank-you phone call, many others will request that candidates do not call. If nothing is said, err on the side of caution and don't call. 

Include Others

If others at your interview site have been especially kind and helpful to you, and if you know how to contact them, by all means send a short note of appreciation. In such a case, it's usually easier to mail rather than email a thank-you note. For instance, if the receptionist went out of her way to assist you or make you feel welcome, and you made note of her name on the desk name plaque, drop her a quick note at the same time that you send your thank-you letter.   

Whichever appropriate strategies you decide to use, it’s important to act promptly! 

Until next time,

Jeanne

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