You tend to start collecting piles of advice when you’re in the market for a job. Everyone has that little tip or trick that they’re sure helped land them the cushy job they’re in now. And while there are probably a lot of great tips in the advice you’ll receive, there’s one suggestion you’ll probably receive that can indeed be a game-changer for your job hunt. That advice is about writing thank-you notes after an interview.
Interviews are tricky things. You usually go into them worried about a hundred things that you can’t really control, so it’s a great idea to take the energy and apply it to the things you do have some control over.
One of the first things, and you’d be surprised how often this is an issue, is to get the names of the people interviewing you. Maybe you’ll be lucky and it’s only one person, but more and more, job interviews tend to be sort of a panel process, especially in the early rounds. Generally, you’ll have a round of introductions to start things off and break the ice. You may be nervous during the introductions and focused on how you’re being perceived. Sometimes that means you forget the names of the people who are interviewing you. It is absolutely essential that you remember those names, not just because it makes you seem more competent in the interview to address people by name, but because you need to know who to include in your thank-you note or notes.
If, for some reason, you forgot a name — or more than one name — it’s okay to ask whoever you set up the interview for you if you can get the spellings of everyone’s names along with mailing addresses to help you cover the flub. That can get a little tricky sometimes, however, if your point of contact wasn’t at the meeting and someone they didn’t expect was there, or not there.
The second question after panel interviews is who do you send thank-you notes to? The safe answer is everyone. Individually send thank you notes to everyone in the interview unless the number is unreasonably large. If your panel was five people or fewer, definitely send individual notes.
It’s important in your thank you note to specifically reference what happened in the interview. Not just to re-highlight your skills, although if you can find a relevant way to work it in, that’s fine. More important is that you talk about what the person you’re writing the note to said during the interview. Try to reference some specific question or insight they specifically had and why that intrigued or informed you about the company or position, or just the industry in general. When people are searching for new employees and colleagues, they want people who pay attention and listen. The best possible way to demonstrate that may just be your thank-you note.
Finally, write a note for every interview, even for preliminary interviews. Sometimes you only meet a recruiter or someone from human resources early on who’s just verifying that you have no glaring issues as a candidate before they pass you up the chain to people with real decision making power. Take those interviews as seriously as any others and write thank-yous for them too!