Lip-Sticking: Write A Thank You Letter That Stands Out

February 05, 2013

Write A Thank You Letter That Stands Out

Hannah Morgan Career Sherpa Headshot

Guest post by Hannah Morgan, The Career Sherpa

The interview is over and you are relieved, but don’t relax yet, your work isn’t done. Thanking the interviewer could be one of the most important step you can take in closing the deal! Do you wonder what you should you say? Here are the answers to the five most commonly asked thank you letter questions.

 When Do I Send My Thank You?

You should send your thank you immediately following your interview. Usually that means within 24 to 48 hours. Actually, let’s step back a second. Before you leave the interview you must ask a couple of really important questions!

1. What are the next steps in the process

2. What is their time-frame for making a decision AND if you don’t hear from them by the stated date, what is the best way for you to follow up?

These questions serve a couple of purposes. First, asking these questions shows you are interested in the job and will take accountability for following up. Second, you now know when you should follow up and you’ve gotten their permission, so you won’t feel like a pest when you do follow up.

Do I really need to send a thank you?

There is more than one reason you are writing this letter. You are being polite, yes. But above and beyond that, this is part of the sales process. You are convincing them that you are the right candidate. Additionally, sending a thank you helps make you memorable. Believe it or not, not everyone sends a thank you. When the organization is interviewing lots of people, it is very easy for them to mix candidates up or forget specifics. Your thank you helps remind them who you are! In fact, according to CareerBuilder’s 2011 study, one out of five hiring managers are less likely to hire someone who does NOT send a cover letter.


Is It a Letter or a Note?

The interview is a business transaction. It isn’t a birthday party, bridal shower or social event. This is why I strongly believe your thank you should be in typed letter with three paragraphs (just like your cover letter). Yes, this is a much debated topic and I’ve heard the arguments for a handwritten note. But I am taking a stand on this. You have more to say than just “thank you” and that may be difficult to do in a handwritten note.

How Long Should it Be?

The letter should be easily digestible by the reader. Keep it a single page with three simple paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: This two- or three-sentence paragraph explains why you are writing…thank you.

Paragraph 2: This paragraph reminds the interviewer why your specific skills are a match for the job and how you will add value to their organization.
This might also be an opportunity to address any of your areas of weakness during the interview or to improve upon an answer you gave during the interview.

Paragraph 3: In this paragraph, emphasize your gratitude for the opportunity and state when YOU will be following up.

If you can accomplish this in a handwritten note, be my guest!

Snail Mail vs. E-Mail?

You know what their time frame is for making a decision so let that determine the sense of urgency and how you decide to deliver your Thank You. It isn’t about which is easier for you. Think about the impression you will be making on the other person.

Sometimes you may want to do both. If this is the case, make the email different from the letter. Email, by definition, is shorter and a bit less formal. Go ahead and send a well crafted email thanking the interviewer(s) for their time and indicate that you have mailed them a letter as well.

 Additional Pointers

  • Interject the right tone/personality to fit the organizational culture and personality of the person interviewing you.
  • Customize your letter for each and every interview and interviewer (no form letters, please).
  • Be as specific as possible when talking about how your skills/qualifications match the job and why that is of value to the organization.
  • Use a formal business letter heading and closing.

Quintessential Careers has a vast collection of Sample Job Interview and Career Thank You letters. I recommend you check them out to get ideas on how to phrase your own letter!