Modernizing thank-you note etiquette – Twin Cities
You just interviewed for a job that you’d really like. Congratulations! That’s good, but don’t stop now. If you want to improve your batting average, it’s time to go for the big play: The summarizing thank-you letter.
I’ve written about this concept before, but that was when most interviews were in-person and the candidate knew where the interviewers were located. In those days, my advice for post-interview correspondence was a two-stepper:
First, handwrite a brief thank you on a note card and mail it within a day of the interview. Second, compose a follow-up letter highlighting relevant skills or conversation points and send it by email, again with a day. The result would be an immediate email encapsulating the meeting and a warm note arriving a few days later, keeping you top of mind.
That’s still a terrific strategy but it won’t work without a valid address for the note card and the certainty that your interviewer will be there to receive mail. Since this is less likely in these days of remote work, the next best idea is to combine the content of the two pieces into one email, still sent within a day of the meeting.
There isn’t an official name for this combined correspondence, but I’m going with “summarizing thank-you note.” That’s descriptive if not catchy, which is all that’s needed. We’ll reserve the real brain power for content and strategy.
Starting with strategy, these basic concepts drive the use of this tool.
1. Etiquette. To thank someone for their time is the most basic of etiquette points. Even if you didn’t care for the interviewer or thought the questions were off-point, thanking them is common courtesy.
2. Differentiation. Following up at all puts you in the top half of interviewees, or even the top 10 percent, depending on which survey you believe. Considering the effort of landing and participating in an interview, sending an email is a pretty easy way to stand out from other candidates.
3. Clarity. In addition to expressing appreciation for the interviewer’s time, the summarizing thank-you has the added feature of providing clarity and/or emphasis for key points. This is an important benefit at any time, but it can be critical if the interview was conducted poorly or by the wrong person. Your follow-up letter lets you recap points in writing that you fear would otherwise go unrecorded or unnoticed.
And now for content. Following the rule of three, here are steps to help you create your summarizing thank-you note.
1. Reflect on the main topics of the meeting. If there was something of evident importance to the interviewer — perhaps a question that was rephrased in various ways, or a point that was reiterated — this might provide content for your note.
2. Review the answers you gave. Do you wish you had elaborated on any of the points you made? Perhaps you left out something important, or remembered key information later.
3. Confirm your strengths or experience for the role. Now that you’ve had this meeting, it should be even more clear what you can contribute or how your background might relate.
Once you have gathered your ideas for the letter, you can start writing. A typical formula would be: Paragraph 1 to say thank you and perhaps something warm about the company; paragraphs 2 and 3 to summarize or elaborate on key points; and the final paragraph to express your continuing / increased interest in the position and desire to move forward in the process.
As an example:
Dear Ms. Jackson:
I very much appreciated our interview on Monday for the Operations role at Jackson Plate Works. The tour was also welcome. The additions to your plant are impressive!
We were discussing my skills in department management, scheduling and overall logistics, all of which will help me make a strong contribution. But I realized later that I hadn’t mentioned the Safety and Compliance certificates I’m completing. This has included coursework that will be relevant to the new plant expansion.
I’ve also learned that my completed certifications could qualify Jackson for reduced workers compensation premiums. I’d be glad to share that information if you’re interested.
Thanks again for the interview. I’m very interested in working with you at Jackson and would like to move forward in your selection process.
As you can see, this note isn’t overly long but it carries considerably more impact than a simple thank you. Try this after your next interview; you may find it to be a game-changer.
Amy Lindgren owns a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at [email protected]