If your mother was like mine, you were taught to write thank you notes whenever someone gave you a gift or treated you to dinner—especially if they invited you to their home and cooked the dinner! But times have changed and, in my experience, thank you notes are becoming less and less common.
In a way, that’s good news for you, because from now on, the thank you note you write after a job interview is going to make you stand out from the crowd. I’m going to give you some “do’s and don’ts” of thank you notes here, but for more details you can refer to my book’s Tip 47 (“Be sure to send a thank you note within one week of an interview”). Another good resource is an article by Miriam Salpeter, a job search professional, that tells you what not to say in a thank you note.
• Send the note within one week of the interview. The sooner the better.
• Take the time to personalize the note, mentioning topics that came up during the interview.
• Stress the skills or experience that make you relevant for the job.
• Send a handwritten note on nice stationery if the interviewer is likely to be in the office to receive it. Send an email thank you if the interviewer travels a lot. (You’ll need to determine this during your interview!)
• Misspell anything, especially the interviewer’s name.
• Write a generic thank you that could have been written by any interviewee to any interviewer.
• Send a gift.
• Use the telephone to say thank you. (During the interview, you can ask about their hiring process and ask when it would be appropriate to call to follow up.)
A final suggestion: Take a pre-addressed, stamped envelope and a piece of stationery with you to the interview. As soon as the interview is over, write the thank you note while sitting in your car (or on the bus or train ride home). Then drop the note in the first mailbox you pass. That way, the interviewer is likely to get the note on the next business day and be impressed with your thoughtfulness, efficiency, and responsiveness.