This post is part of our CEO’s Corner series.
My brother recently had some grad school interviews (he got in!) and, following his interviews, we discussed how to write a great thank you letter for an interview. Here are the tips we came up with in that conversation — tips that I wish the people I interview would follow:
1. Be quick, but not too quick. I’m not an expert on the matter, but, from experience, I always tell people the following: Wait at least an hour after your interview to send it (anything less seems insincere or too eager) and instead send it around 4-5 hours after your interview, trying to send it before your interviewer goes home for the day.
2. Keep it short. I like 4-5 sentences.
3. Don’t apologize for anything unless you really, really messed up. Did you cough a lot? Don’t say, “I’m sorry for coughing throughout our whole interview.” That sounds like you’re not confident. Instead, only apologize if you did something really unfortunate, like spilled coffee on someone.
4. Be specific. What specifically did you talk about? Don’t say, ” Thank you for the opportunity.” Say, “Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you. I enjoyed talking about the similarities between your research on 14th Century Dutch paintings and my research on the Dutch economy during the same period.” You want to (A) make sure that the person knows you genuinely enjoyed the conversation and were paying attention (and you can accomplish that through integrating a little specificity into your letter) and (B) you don’t want all the thank you letters you send to be carbon copies of each other (that can backfire); just imagine people sitting down in a hiring committee later on in the day and them all saying “I received a great thank you from John… Oh, you received the exact same thing?” Ouch.
5. Be confident. Say, “I look forward to the next steps” or ” I hope to see you again in the fall.” Not “I hope you’ll select me” or anything that says you doubt yourself and what you offer.
6. Use Boomerang to send your thank you letter at the right time. If you do have to wait until the evening to send it, don’t send it at 9PM. Schedule it for 6AM the next morning with Boomerang, so it’ll be at the top of your interviewer’s inbox. Oh, and send it from a professional email address: [email protected] or [email protected], not [email protected]
7. Proofread it! Especially titles, names, etc. The proper spelling of titles and names are all online; don’t only rely on your notes.
As you interview (especially if you’re having multiple interviews), do these two things:
1. Keep a list of everyone’s names you interview with. You don’t want to forget anyone.
2. Get business cards and, after your interviews, write down a 1-2 line summary of what you talked about on the card. That will make #4 on this list really easy. That will also make getting the spelling of people’s names and their titles right (#7) very easy.