There are many components of a successful job interview, including thorough preparation, confident body language, professional presentation, and clear articulation of your skills and experience. Once you’ve mastered all of these details and walk out of the interview, it can be easy to overlook a last important step: the thank you email.
Many job seekers, especially Big Interview readers, understand that it is a good practice to promptly send a thank you email to their interviewer. How and what to say, however, may be less clear.
Although it is highly likely you expressed polite thanks to your interviewer in person, an intentional, well-worded note of thanks can separate you from the competition and keep you fresh in the interviewer’s mind.
Why Send a Post-Interview “Thank You” Email?
A thank you note is considered a common courtesy after a job interview and demonstrates polished professionalism. Showing your appreciation for your interviewer’s time will solidify the rapport you established. Conversely, the absence of this gesture, at a time where putting your best foot forward is expected, could hurt your chances of landing the job.
Beyond exercising manners and business etiquette, the thank-you email presents you with a golden opportunity to re-sell yourself.
Perhaps you missed cues to present some of your talking points, leaving your interviewer without a full understanding of your skills. Your thank-you email is your chance to fill any possible gap and reinforce your fit for the job.
Timing is Everything
Of the factors that contribute to an effective thank-you note, the timing is perhaps the most sensitive. You’ll want to begin writing your email as soon as possible to ensure you have time to make it great.
The completed thank-you email should arrive in the interviewer’s inbox within 24 hours of the interview. Too much later, and you may have already been forgotten.
Note: Email thank-you notes are now considered the standard and always appropriate. We are often asked about when it would be better to write and mail a physical thank-you note.
It’s always possible that some, more traditional interviewers may appreciate receiving a thank-you note or card in the mail. It’s true that a mailed card will may help you stand out.
However, there’s also a chance this gesture could make you seem less responsive (takes longer) or tech-savvy. I would recommend sending your thanks via email in almost all cases. If you are dealing with a more traditional interviewer or company, you can address this in the tone and content of your thank-you email.
Be sure to steer clear of odd hours of the night. If the interviewer even manages to find your email buried in memos and junk mail, it may seem strange that you were up at 3am.
If you can manage it, one effective strategy is to send the email around the time when the interviewer first arrives at work the next morning; your note will be front and center.
Anatomy of the Ideal Interview Thank You Email – from Top to Bottom
Subject Line: Definitely include one. An email with a “no subject” line comes across as lazy and is easy to ignore. When you create your subject line, it should be specific and attention grabbing, but don’t try to be too creative. Make it clear what the email will be about by using the words “thank you” and perhaps the position title.
Salutation: When addressing your note, keep it professional, and accurate. Writing down “Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. *Last Name*” is always a solid choice. Make sure you know exactly how the interviewer’s last name is spelled. (If you have multiple interviewers, send separate emails, and double check to make sure you have correct names and emails matched up properly).
Be careful to check your assumptions! For instance, if the interviewer was a woman, do not assume that you can address her as “Mrs.,” even if you know she is married. Stick to “Ms.” in this case and you will be safe. (And make sure you always use the “Dr.” prefix when applicable!)
Opening paragraph: Now comes the part where you say, “thank you.” Begin your note with a sincere expression of gratitude for the time that was taken to speak with you (e.g “I appreciate the time you took to speak with me…”)
After this, you will want to grab their attention with a compliment about the interview process in some way, a key takeaway about the position or company that excites you, and how this takeaway solidifies your confidence in your ability to be the best fit for the job.
This will help the recruiter feel good about reading your note, let them know you paid attention, and reassure them of your interest.
Body: While keeping your email brief, you can use an additional 1-2 paragraphs to remind the interviewer of your best selling points and continue building rapport. Here are some ideas:
• Focus on your fit. Confidently assert your top selling points that align with the top job requirements. This can be an opportunity to mention something that didn’t come up in the interview or that you feel, in retrospect, you didn’t articulate well.
• Reference something specific about your conversation.This helps to show you were interested and listening and may jog the reader’s memory about your interview.
• Reiterate your interest. You can mention how the interview (and perhaps specific information provided by the interview) made you even more interested in the opportunity. Or if you forgot to ask good questions at the end of the interview, you may include one here, as an alternate way of showing your interest and engagement.
• Keep tone in mind. Be professional, but also aware of the culture of the office. For example, if your desired position requires creativity or upbeat customer relations, make sure your note doesn’t come off too stiff.
• Know your reader. Tailor your note to what you know about the reader. If you’re dealing with a busy senior manager, keep the note short and sweet and focused on the bottom line. If your interviewer was very focused on a particular job requirement, think about leading with a comment about it.
In all cases, remember to be professional, concise, and to the point.
Conclusion: It is always appropriate to say “thank you” again in some way as you are wrapping up your note. You can also use your conclusion to emphasize your interest in the position and express your desire to move forward in the hiring process.
If the interviewer mentioned a specific time frame in which to expect a follow-up, it is okay to reference that in your conclusion.
However, if no time frame was mentioned, creating one of your own (e.g “I look forward to hearing back from you next week”) may come across as pushy.
You should also include an invitation for the interviewer to contact you at any time if they have further questions (make sure your contact info is included in the sentence or in your email signature!). This is a subtle inclusion in the interview thank you email that candidates often forget.
Sign off: The tried and true signature of “Sincerely, Your First and Last Name” is always a safe bet. If another sign off has worked for you in a professional setting before, especially if it found you success on your cover letter, then stick with it.
Below your signature, make sure to include your full contact information, and any relevant links, such as a LinkedIn profile or online portfolio.
Interview “Thank You” Sample Email (and Template)
Subject Line: Thank You | Senior Project Manager Interview
Dear Ms. Smith,
I greatly appreciate the time you took to meet with me yesterday afternoon to discuss the Senior Project Manager Position. I enjoyed learning more about the company and especially the details you shared about the collaborative culture, which is something I really value.
I am now even more excited about the position and my fit for the role. In addition to my record of organizing successful project launches under strict deadlines, I also have extensive multimedia production and editing experience.
I also have experience successfully streamlining project processes in my current role and know that skill would be valuable in meeting your goals for making processes more consistent across the team.
Please let me know if there is any additional information you need from me. Thank you again for your time. I hope to hear back from you and have the opportunity to continue our discussion about the role.
First Name Last Name”
Why This Thank-You Email Works
For starters, this note is delivered in a timely manner (within 24 hours of the interview). The subject line makes it obvious to the recruiter that this is a thank-you note.
The greeting uses the appropriate title and sounds professional.
This note starts out well by showing gratitude and referencing specific, helpful information provided in the interview.
In the body, the job seeker reiterates enthusiasm for the role and then summarizes his key selling points for the position. The third paragraph references new information shared in the interview (goal of making processes more consistent) and how this candidate could be an asset.
In the conclusion, the writer offers to provide any additional information needed and expresses interest in moving forward in the process.
Overall, it’s a concise, professional note that shows the candidate was paying attention and reinforces both a positive attitude and positive qualifications for the position.
Smoothing out the Edges
When you have a draft of your interview thank-you email complete, you will want to proofread it at least twice. You don’t want to rely on the spellcheck and grammar correction tools alone.
Double-check the spelling of names, your sentence structure, and if any words you intended to use are missing. After you have done your best to polish your thank-you email draft, get a second pair of eyes on it if you can. You will be surprised at how quickly a fresh perspective will reveal some of the details you may have overlooked.
Thank-You Emails for Panel Interviews
You did get a business card from each interviewer, right? They will prove to be very helpful when faced with writing thank-you notes after a panel interview.
If more than one person was involved in your interview process, each person should receive an individualized thank-you email. While this may seem time consuming, it can set you apart from other of candidates. After all, each member of the panel was there because they have a vote in the hiring process. You want to win all of them over.
Do your best to remember highlights of the interview from each person involved. You may even consider refreshing your memory by writing notes on the back of each business card as soon as you return from your interview. Include a few unique details in each of your thank-you notes to create a genuine reconnection with everyone involved in your interview process, and to ideally get them talking to each other about wanting to hire you.
With the job market as competitive as it is, job seekers need to do everything they can to connect with interviewers and stand out from the competition. Using these tools, your carefully-constructed thank-you email could be what closes the deal and earns you the job offer.
(For even more advice on thank you notes, read our full lessons inside the Big Interview curriculum, or check out our post Job Interview Thank You Notes 101)