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Important Dos and Don'ts for Your Post-Interview Thank-Yous

A stellar interview is nothing without the proper follow up. Here are some dos and don’ts to remember. [TWEET]

You’ve finished the final rounds of the interview process for your dream job. Congratulations for coming out on the other side unscathed! If you think all that’s left to do is wait for a verdict, you’re very wrong. Right after an interview is the opportune time to follow up with those that played a key role in your interview process and express your gratitude, as well as continued interest, in the job that’s up for grabs. In doing this, make sure you stand out amongst your competition and make your post-interview “thank you” email, note or phone call memorable!  Here are some items to keep in mind as you follow up on all final job interviews.

Do: Keep things professional.

If you recently interviewed with a hiring manager or search committee, it’s highly unlikely that you delved into one another’s personal lives. However, once in awhile you’ll come across a person or group that makes the process slightly more relaxed and informal.

While it’s a good rule of thumb to follow the interviewer’s lead regarding how formal to act while in an interview, always keep what you write after the fact professional. It’s best to be composed instead of relaxed when sending out thank you notes and emails. Use proper prefixes and correct language, pay attention to verb tenses and grammar, and omit slang words, emojis and the like. This not only shows that you’ve taken the time to follow up, but that you’re also a quality writer, a skill set featured in virtually every job posting across all career sectors.

Maybe you hit it off with one of the search committee members, the interview flew by and you feel as though you’ve known one another for ages. Having a great interview experience that makes you feel comfortable is certainly ideal and is also a great indicator that the potential working environment is right for you. However, the same casual tone doesn’t always translate well in writing and isn’t recommended if you’re only just starting to develop relationships with your prospective supervisors and colleagues.

So many elements of interpersonal communication rely on visual cues, body language, tone of voice and other markers that cannot be conveyed properly in written format. So even if you felt a professional “spark” in your interview, keep your tone friendly and professional. Remember that you’re vying for a job and trying to establish that you’re a put-together, polished professional. Once you’re hired, there will be times when a more formal tone is needed and it’s good to show a possible employer that you’re capable of both formal and informal communication.

Do: Personalize your message.

While it may be to your disadvantage to be too informal in an interview follow-up note, it’s perfectly acceptable, and even encouraged, to include items that reiterate points discussed in an interview that set you apart from other applicants. For example, if you talk with a search committee at length regarding your 10-year track record of dedicated military service, and you’re applying for a Veterans Liaison position at a college or university, reiterating how your years of service have inspired you to continue working with veteran populations puts you a step ahead of applicants who may not have as much experience, or no military experience at all. Another solid example is if you’re seeking a job in the political sector; if you discussed with your potential supervisor her internship experiences in Washington, D.C. and how you had similar experiences, touching on this shared experience and passion for working within the sector helps foster a shared interest and conveys admiration of someone you may be working closely with in the near future.

Along the same lines, sending out a generic “thank you” to everyone you interviewed with is most certainly not recommended. As said before, you can personalize the sentiments in your thank-yous without getting too personal. So at the very least, if you’re not looking to be too verbose, write notes addressed to each individual or group by name. In each greeting within your post-interview thank you email, try to express your passion for the job at hand and reflect positively on the shared experience of the interview. But don’t use the same boilerplate message verbatim in every note or email you send. Taking the time to customize each note, even if just a little bit, goes a long way and shows that you value the on-boarding process as much as they care about hiring someone that aligns with their company culture.

Do: Use clean, professional-looking stationery and email templates.

While the tone of your message is one you ultimately decide upon, I advise against using overly-themed cards or email templates. Maintaining your personal brand and keeping notes clean, modern and professional is key. Those little flowers or polka dots on cards for your family and friends may seem playful to you, but if you’re hoping to be taken seriously by a company or organization, cute or artsy isn’t the aesthetic to aim for. The content of your post interview thank you can be enthusiastic, but the visual appearance of your thank you notes and emails should reflect that of a serious job seeker; think sleek and sophisticated. If email is your platform of choice, make sure your font and signature are clean-cut and NOT in any way affiliated with your current company. Use a personal email with an appropriate handle (think jean123@xmail.com instead of cutejennyxoxo@xmail.com), an easy-to-read font and a signature that includes your customized LinkedIn URL.

Do: Keep things consistent.

Some applicants for positions are tech-savvy and prefer the ease and convenience of emailing all individuals and groups that partook in the interview process. Others believe that sending a handwritten note makes for a more personalized experience and demonstrates an additional show of effort. Either one is fine, but I recommend that an applicant select one or the other across the board. Email everyone or write thank you cards/notes to everyone, but mixing it up and writing to some while emailing others may confuse search committee members that work with one another regularly. Having folks wonder why some received cards and others received an email makes for a confusing situation, so consistency in your post interview thank you is key.

Don’t: forget to send out the thank you notes and follow-up materials.

If an employer asks for something after an interview, e.g. a reference list or career biography, remember to include that along with your thank you note. Your daily life may have you constantly going, but keeping your job search and related follow-up actions on track is important. Maintaining a paper or electronic calendar or list of reminders may help you keep things straight. Staying on top of things also shows a potential supervisor that you have superb time management, organization, prioritization and multitasking skills. So set aside time in your calendar (electronic or pen-and-paper) during each week/every few days to check in with yourself and make sure all of your job searching processes are in order. Even keeping a spreadsheet or simple list that allows you to highlight items you’ve completed will help you keep track of what you’ve done and need to do still.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!