The post-interview thank you email is a misunderstood, often forgotten aspect of interview etiquette.
For those of you unaware of this tradition, let me explain.
This is a simple note for each of your interviewers thanking them for taking the time to interview you. After all, they did spend ~1 hour interviewing you instead of getting their other work done.
And I can assure you that in most cases they don’t get an hour of less work because of these interviews. Instead, the work just piles up and eats into their evening plans.
The post-interview thank you note is definitely a formality. As an interviewer, I never expect these notes. Many people do not send a thank you note after interviewing. But I appreciate the thoughtfulness when a candidate does email me, and I mentally award them a few extra points in the “self-awareness” and “professionalism” categories.
Although they are a nice touch, in reality they are not that important. In most cases, a thank you email will not get you the job. Regardless of whether you send a thank you note, if you blew the interview you will probably not get the job.
Once in a while, sending a thank you note can bias the interviewer in your favor. If you left a strong impression during the interview, a timely thank you email can reinforce the interviewer’s impression of you. When it comes time to deliberate and choose between you and someone else, that thank you note might increase your odds ever so slightly.
However, this isn’t the best reason to write a thank you email. The real reason to write one is simple: it’s just a courteous thing to do that shows a higher level of professionalism and maturity.
It’s kind of like saying thank you to someone who holds the door open for you. Is there a tangible immediate benefit? Not really. But it’s a nice gesture.
You also never know when you might work with these people again. I often connect with my interviewers on LinkedIn if I felt like we had great chemistry during the interview. Sometimes they connect with me first.
To this day, I would feel comfortable reaching out to any of them to ask about opportunities on their team or at their company.
It’s a small world in most industries. Having a strong reputation will accelerate your career and open new doors.
So when it comes time to send the email, just do it. Don’t overthink it.
How to write thank you emails
This email is very straightforward with a few sentences each serving its own purpose:
- A sentence expressing your gratitude
- A sentence or two explaining what you learned or enjoyed during the interview
- As a bonus, you can bring up something specific in the conversation. This will remind them who you are (remember they may be doing back to back interviews)
- As an extra bonus, you can mention an article or something relevant in the interview, then follow up with the link in your thank you email.
- A sentence wrapping it up and indicating your excitement to hear back
Here’s a word-for-word script you can use. Of course, you should tailor the details of each sentence to your interview. I also expanded on the bonus section by referencing our discussion and linking the interviewer to a relevant article from our conversation.
Subject: Thanks for the interview & conversation on metrics | Rohan
Thank you for taking the time to interview me today. I enjoyed learning about the challenges your team faces with the hiring marketplace and working through the product strategy case with you. I especially enjoyed our discussion on true north metrics and how to align incentives for R&D teams to execute a strategy.
As mentioned in our conversation, I think you’ll find this article on defining product metrics interesting and relevant to your work. Specifically, the author argues that teams should set a “line in the sand” to determine success before the product launches. Makes sense to keep teams accountable, but I’m sure it’s difficult to do well in practice.
Anyways, thanks again and I look forward to hearing back!
A couple housekeeping items:
- Multiple interviews: When writing multiple emails, make sure each one is customized to the interviewer. Otherwise you run the risk of looking unprofessional and robotic.
- Don’t force the bonus: It’s also okay if you don’t have something to link, this is just a nice bonus when applicable. It’s much better to omit this part than to force it and come across as try-hard.
- Timing: Always send your thank you note within 24 hours of the interviewer. The longer you wait the more diluted your thank you note is.
- Email Address: During your interview, get in the habit of asking for their email or business card during the Q&A section. That way you don’t have to waste time scrambling to guess their email address.
Finally, I’ll leave you with two additional ways to kick your thank you up a notch.
Idea 1: Hand written note
This one works well for more traditional industries (entertainment, finance, etc.) and with senior professionals (partners, executives, etc.). Instead of writing the above thank you note in an email, you can write it on nice card stock and mail it to their desk. If you want to do this, ask the receptionist for the mailing address. Send this out within 24 hours of interviewing and consider paying for 1-day shipping.
Idea 2: Post-interview work
This idea takes a considerable amount of work and is sometimes worth it for startup/more entrepreneurial roles. Based off your interview and conversation, find a few open questions that the interviewer is grappling with at work and do some research, analysis, coding, exploration, etc. to assemble a recommendation. Your recommendation should be as real as possible -- this isn’t particularly valuable to the interviewer if you just made everything up.
This works because it demonstrates 2 traits. It shows that you are focused on adding value to your interviewer, who may be your potential manager. Secondly, it shows you are committed and take initiative. You can even try to do this before the interview if you want to stand out.
While these two ideas are great tactics to keep in mind, I don’t think it’s worth your time in most cases. Your time is better spent networking and building real relationships. However, if you’re serious about your job search and really want to stand out, these could nudge your chances of landing the offer!