On one side of the ring we have Jessica Liebman of Business Insider, who vehemently fights for the importance of sending a thank-you note after an interview. Liebman stands by the hard-and-fast rule, “[you] shouldn’t move a candidate to the next stage in the interview process unless they send a thank-you email.” She believes that the follow-up email is an important gauge of a candidate’s interest in a role, and not sending a thank-you note indicates the job seeker isn’t as dedicated to the role as a hiring manager would want. Liebman also argues that a follow-up message indicates the candidate is eager, organized and a good communicator, making for a good hire.
On the other side, we have Efrat Dagan, who argues that thank-you notes shouldn’t play into your chances of landing a role, because expecting these undefined courtesies can discourage inclusivity, especially with people from other cultures who are unaware of these unspoken customs.
So which perspective is right?
Go ahead and send that thank-you email
Transparency from employers is ideal, but what do you do when expectations aren’t clear? We’d say it’s better to be safe than sorry and you should go ahead and send that email.
While Dagan is on to something about exclusivity in the hiring process, the onus is on the interviewer to set aside their bias and be more understanding that not everyone is on the same page when it comes to these workplace courtesies. But chances are if you’re reading this article you’re already aware of this courtesy and are on the fence of its necessity, so we’re here to push you toward the direction of sending that email.
If you follow the data, you can see why it’s so important to send that follow-up. According to an Accountemps survey, 94% of HR managers find it appropriate to send a thank-you note via email, with 80% of the mind that thank-you messages are at least somewhat helpful in their decision-making process. With that being said, their expectations fall short as these HR managers only receive thank-you messages from roughly 24% of job candidates.
How to write your post-interview thank-you email
You’ve come to the conclusion that you’re better off sending a thank-you note. Whether you are writing to the HR manager, the members of a panel or your would-be manager, there are a couple of best practices and rules that can help you craft a strong letter that will leave a memorable impression on the recipient.
Write a powerful subject line
Your subject line should command the interviewer’s attention and set you apart from the rest of the competition. Keep it short and sweet, but not impersonal. Consider including the interviewer’s name or the position you’re interviewing for. A few examples include:
1. [Position] interview follow-up
2. Following up regarding [position]
3. [Interviewer’s name], I appreciate your time today
Be grateful for their time and restate your interest
The interviewer invested time in you, so it’s only polite to express your gratitude for the opportunity. A simple “thank you for your time” can go a long way.
Follow this up by restating your interest and enthusiasm for the position. You should take this time to briefly explain why you’d be a good match for the job and organization. It’s okay if you’re simply restating what you said during your interview, as it’s best to keep these details fresh in the interviewer’s mind. This can also be an opportunity for you to plug your skills, connecting what you bring to the table to the goals of the company and team.
One way to make your thank-you email have a stronger impact is to include details or anecdotes from your interview. Callbacks to a lighthearted interaction during your interview or even cracking an appropriate joke or two can personalize your letter in a way that can create a memorable impact.
Tip: Facepalming over something you misspoke about? Your follow-up email provides you the opportunity to correct anywhere you messed up in your interview, whether you gave incorrect information or neglected to say something important.
Ask about next steps
A simple “I look forward to hearing about the next steps in the interview process” can give you a subtle edge over the competition. This shows your keen interest in a role and lets the interviewer know that you’re a serious candidate and not at high risk for ghosting.
Be sure to send your follow-up email within 24 hours of the interview. Some even argue it’s better to send it within 2 hours of your interview—the sooner the better. Be sure to send it during work hours as well. No one wants to receive a work email at 9 PM.
Thank-you email example
Let’s put all of these steps together. Depending on your stage in the interview process, your email will look a little different. For example, if you just interviewed with the hiring manager, you might speak a little more on your technical skills. If you spoke with a panel of peers, you would want to focus more on culture fit.
Here is an example of how to write an effective follow-up email for a hiring manager:
[Interviewer’s First Name],
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I appreciated hearing more about this [role] opportunity, and wanted to emphasize my interest and eagerness to join your organization.
Like I said in our interview, I would be the best fit for this role due to my proficiency in [skill], [skill] and [skill]. My history of working in [industry/technology] would enable me to hit the ground running at [company] so I can make a significant impact right away.
One thing I forgot to mention in my interview was my proficiency in [technology]. My years of experience working with [technology] would allow me to help you more effectively reach your business goals.
I look forward to hearing about the next steps in the interview process.
All the best,
Here is an example of how to write a follow-up email for an interview with peers assessing if you’d be a culture fit or not:
[Panel Member’s First Name],
I appreciate your time meeting with me today! I enjoyed hearing about your personal experience at [company] and it got me even more excited about this opportunity.
During the interview, you mentioned [specific fact about the company/team]. My experience working on a large team would be beneficial to [company’s] work environment because it would enable me to help the team reach its established goals.
I feel like I could learn so much at [company] and appreciated the opportunity to meet with you and the team today.
P.S. [Callback to a specific thing you discussed like hobbies, alma mater]
Looking forward to hearing back soon,
Again, remember how important it is to personalize each email between panel members. Calling back to something specific they said can make them feel seen and appreciated.
Tip: One of the other benefits of sending a follow-up email is that it gives you the opportunity to attach any work examples you might have discussed during the interview. Think about attaching your GitHub or examples of code you’ve written.
What not to include in your post-interview thank-you email
We’ve gone over what to include, but what should you avoid in your follow-up email? Here are a few of the most common pitfalls that job seekers can fall into when crafting their thank-you message.
Don’t write too much. You’re not looking to send out a novel. Keep your email short and sweet—no longer than 200 words. Cut the fluff to maintain the impact.
Don’t forget to personalize your letter between interviewers. If you spoke with multiple people, send multiple emails. Sending a one-size-fits-all email seems lazy, and copying and pasting between recipients will be obvious.
Don’t leave in typos. Spell check! There is nothing like a spelling mistake to make you seem sloppy or even cost you a job, so make sure you take the time to proofread.
Don’t wait too long to send the email. Like we’ve already said, don’t put off sending that email. If it’s been over 24 hours, you’ve waited too long.
Don’t sacrifice professionalism. Avoid being too chummy with your interviewer. You want to keep the tone professional while you’re still trying to establish yourself as a reliable and valuable team member.
Leaving a lasting impact on the interviewer
You know what to include and what not to include, now it’s time to send off your thank-you. If it’s not already clear, we encourage a thank-you email, and that’s about it. Handwritten notes delivered by snail mail is a way of the past, and generally not appreciated. Again, with 94% of hiring managers favoring email correspondence, it’s the safest option. What’s more, there is no way your mailed note will reach the interviewer within the recommended 24-hour time frame.
Thank-you notes are still very much a thing, and it’s better to err on the side of safety and go ahead and send that email within those first 24 hours post-interview. Following specific best practices can help improve your chances of success when attempting to leave a lasting positive impression in the mind of the interviewer.