When my wife was hired for her first real job after graduating from college, she was remembered and saluted by her new supervisor for one seemingly small step she had taken during the interviewing process: She was the only applicant of several interviewed who had sent a thank-you note after her interview.
It seems amazing, but it's true: A simple thank-you letter after an interview can wield considerable power and influence, and reflect very favorably on your candidacy for the position. Why? Several reasons:
1. By sending a thank-you note, you show your interviewer common courtesy and respect.
Unfortunately, in our busy and often impolite world, we simply don't acknowledge each other's time, efforts and commitments. So in sending a thank-you note after an interview, you tell your interviewer in no uncertain terms that you appreciate the time he has given you. After all, he had to give up part or all of the day to be with you, and expend effort learning more about you and what you have to offer.
2. So few job applicants send thank-you notes that you automatically stand out if you do.
It's shocking, but the majority of job applicants fail to send post-interview thank-you notes. Why? Who knows? But the bottom line is that you wind up in a position to shine simply by putting forth the effort of sending a note. Strange, but true.
3. A thank-you note gives you an opportunity to reiterate points you made during your interview.
Have you ever left an interview wishing you'd more strongly emphasized a certain skill or experience the employer seemed to be looking for? An interview thank-you letter gives you the chance to do just that. After using the first paragraph of your note to thank your interviewer, you can use a brief second paragraph to touch again upon the key points you made in your interview. You can also use a similar strategy to clean up any interview rough spots you might have had -- i.e., to expand upon or clarify responses you felt were weak or shaky.
4. A thank-you note lets you make points you forgot to make in your interview.
Sometimes after an interview, as you walk out to your car, you smack yourself on the forehead and say to yourself, "Why didn't I talk about _____?" Frustrating? You bet. But you can take care of the problem to some degree in your thank-you letter. Again, perhaps in the second paragraph, you can say something to the effect of "After our discussion, it occurred to me that I forgot to tell you about _________."
5. A thank-you note demonstrates your written communication skills.
In receiving and reading your interview thank-you note, your interviewer will see firsthand how you handle yourself on paper. You'll be using similar skills every day with the company's potential clients, customers and vendors -- so the interviewer will be reading carefully to see how you come across in print.
Writing thank-you notes isn't terribly difficult or time-consuming. Be sure to follow through, preferably the same day as your interview. It can make a much bigger difference than you might think -- perhaps even the difference between the job going to you or someone else.