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Should you send a thank-you after an interview?

  • 2 min to read
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Most people don’t send thank-you notes, but HR managers say it’s an important part of the interview process if you want to get the job.

Showing your gratitude is always a good look, especially during a job search. This means promptly thanking your interviewers. A thank-you email after an interview is the most popular—and accepted—method of following up with your potential future employers. Too bad three out of four job seekers don’t even bother sending a thank-you, according to an Accountemps survey of human resources (HR) managers. The survey found that only 24% of HR managers receive thank-you notes from applicants. However, 80% of HR managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates.

Whether it's a physical letter or an email, this token of appreciation could actually determine if you get the job. “Sending a well-crafted and timely thank-you letter after an interview can add a positive impression to an already positive connection,” says Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent, a Cincinnati firm specializing in talent acquisition, recruiting, and staff development.

These guidelines can tell you how to write a thank-you note after your job interview.

Email thank-you notes

An Accountemps survey found that 94% of HR managers say it’s appropriate to send a thank-you email after an interview, as most (65%) of the thank-yous they receive are sent by email.

Now, before you rush to hit “send,” you’ll need to determine if this is the best vehicle for your thank-you note by asking yourself how the company initially contacted you. If you have always corresponded with the company via email for setting up the interview, answering certain questions, and so on, then, by all means, send an email thank-you note as soon as you return from an interview, typically within 24 hours after the interview. Email thank-you notes have one clear advantage over their snail mail counterpart: It’s the quickest way to put your name back in front of the interviewer. 

However, you should also follow it up with a note in the mail to show that you aren’t Mr. or Ms. Casual.

Snail mail

If the company you interviewed with is formal and traditional, use snail mail to send your thank-you note.

Should it be handwritten or typed? Typed is the standard reply. This will demonstrate your ability to communicate professionally by proving that you know how to address, format, and sign a letter. Especially for some positions, such as administrative assistant, hiring managers would want to know that you’re a good communicator since writing letters could be a big part of your job.

The extra effort on the part of one candidate made a difference to Carol Galle, president and CEO of Special D Events, an event-planning firm in Royal Oak, Michigan. “I recently filled an open position for which I had two highly qualified candidates, but it was a thank-you note that made the difference,” she says. “[One candidate] took the time to create a custom two-dimensional note card with our company's logo and a sincere, handwritten message of thanks. I want to hire people who genuinely want to work for my company, and it was clear from her effort that was the case.”

Handwritten notes are appropriate if you'd like to extend your thanks to others in the office who helped you out. For example, if a receptionist, assistant, office manager, or another person involved with the interviewing process was especially helpful—say they took you to lunch or guided you from office to office during the interviewing process—then a handwritten note is a nice gesture to show your appreciation. The Accountemps survey found that 86% of HR managers like handwritten thank-you notes, yet handwritten notes account for only 21% of the letters they receive.

What to say in your thank-you note

What you say and how you say it are even more important than the manner in which you send it. A standard thank-you note should accomplish several things:

  • Thank the person for the opportunity to interview with the company.
  • Plug your skills: "The job is a good fit for me because of XYZ and my past experience in XYZ."
  • Finally, recap some of the conversational highlights.

Interviewers have short memories. A thank-you note is your final chance to make yourself stand apart from all of the others who want the same position.

Write more thank-yous 

Whether you send a thank-you email after an interview, or you drop a letter in the mailbox, is up to you. Just make sure you do it.