If you’re wondering if it really helps to send a thank you letter after your job interview, my answer might surprise you: in many cases, you probably can get the job anyway without ever formally thanking anyone — assuming you have everything else they’re looking for.
But smart job seekers don’t stop at “probably” … they take the extra step. All things equal, a great thank you note can help the employer remember you in a positive light and reinforce things that went well in your interview. [You’ll find a sample thank you note to use as a template later on.]
What should a good thank you note say to an employer?
Your goal throughout the interview process is to make sure that you leave your interviewer(s) and everyone you meet at the company with a positive impression. So a thank you note is simply an extension of that. One more chance to remind them who you are even beyond the actual interview.
REALITY CHECK: If you’re not qualified, it’s almost guaranteed the note isn’t going to help. But if you are one of the real contenders, it can help you stand out or be remembered as someone especially thoughtful and professional whom they might enjoy working with.
And then there’s always the chance that the note will land just at the right time and get you seen in a new light. Here’s a nice story about how a smartly sent thank you note actually helped get the person the job:
Who do you send the thank you email or letter to?
Basic thank you notes should be addressed to the interviewer(s) or main contact person. Use their full name and official title in the heading of the letter as shown below.
But don’t forget the Rosie O’Donnell example above. Sometimes also sending one to the person who got you into the interview can make all the difference!
More about writing the note itself:
After “Dear” don’t use their first name unless they specifically asked you to. Instead use Mr. or Ms. or Mrs. (only if specifically mentioned, otherwise Ms.) or a title like Dr. or Judge or Professor as required.
And if you had more than one interviewer, you might try customizing it for each person, if possible. For instance, if you can recall something each person said that you want to mention or something about their position in the company, especially as it relates to the job, a personalized note may stand out even more.
Sample thank you letter AFTER an interview
I strongly advise that you adapt this to your own style and circumstances, but this should help get you started.
[Click on image above to see letter in new window]
EXTRA: You might want to attach a business card to your thank you note, if you have one and if you think it’s appropriate for the job. If you don’t have a professional card yet, please add one to your job search tool kit as soon as possible. (It doesn’t cost much.)
And while this suggestion might not be right for every job, there may be circumstances where a Joan Doe, Professional Waitress business card or whatever (even when networking) could leave a fun memorable impression.
For more cover letter samples, head over to LiveCareer.com.