Use the thank you note to your advantage

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Is it important to follow-up with a thank you note once the interview is over?

While the thank you note will not necessarily make or break your chances with a company, if you’re smart about it, you can certainly use it to your advantage.

More than just good form

It’s a good idea to send a thank you note because it is a demonstration of good form.

Above and beyond that, the thank you note can also have strategic value. It can serve the following functions:

  • Reiterate your interest for the company and the position
  • Clarify or improve on an answer
  • Support your expertise with work samples

If you feel the interview went well and you don’t have anything else to add, then send a simple email thanking the interviewers for their time and confirming your interest both for the position and for the company. Finish the note by emphasizing your availability for any further questions or meetings.

The strategic thank you note

It sometimes happens that after an interview you’re kicking yourself because you could have answered a question in a better way. This is where a smart thank you note can be used to your advantage.

When you write the thank you note, start in the same way as described above. You can then move on to your improved answer. Don’t explicitly state that you’re changing or improving your answer, but approach it from another angle. If you want to clarify your response, you can say that you were reflecting on the conversation further then state your point. If you want to change your answer, you can say that you reconsidered the context that was given then go into your new response.

An important note: you can only improve upon one point. Remember that this is a thank you note and not a second shot at the interview. You can subtly weave in a few lines to support your candidacy, but keep the tone of the message light in alignment with thanking the interviewers for their time.

The other way you can use a thank you note to your advantage is to send along work samples. If there was anything you discussed during the interview that you feel would have benefited from a visual aid, this is where sending along one or two work samples can reinforce your expertise.

You can’t use both strategies in one thank you note because, as I mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep the tone light. Think carefully about which approach will serve you best.

Time if of the essence

You have a maximum of 24 hours to send your thank you note for it to be effective. There is no point in sending a thank you note after that because it will come across as though you lack of a sense of urgency. It’s even worse if you are trying one of the strategies I discussed in the previous section, so I would recommend making your decision quickly. Don’t undermine your candidacy with a poorly written thank you note: review your grammar and spelling carefully.

Email your thank you note. I have received thank you cards in the past and while it is a classy gesture, it’s not at all effective. You’re better off keeping thank you cards for personal situations.

While a thank you note can’t work miracles, it can certainly humanize you, which is a good thing. It’s happened more than once that a hiring manager and I have received a thank you note where the candidate subtly corrected themselves. Even if their answer in the interview wasn’t great, the fact that they could point it out quickly demonstrated self-awareness which is a quality that employers value. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so if you don’t typically send thank you notes following an interview, it might be to your advantage to get in the habit of doing so.