Interview etiquette: How to write a thank you email after a job interview

No matter how informal the job interview might have seemed, you should always – and I mean always – send the person or persons who interviewed you a thank you note of some kind.

Whether it is an email, a typed letter or a note card sent through snail mail, taking the time to thank the interviewers is a must in this economy, and will get you one step closer to landing that job.

Make a lasting impression with your note

You certainly don’t want to be part of the majority of interviewees who forget to send thank you notes. Being thoughtful enough to take a quick few minutes (not too quick – we don’t want you to forget your grammar…) to say thanks for the time spent is enough to make a lasting impression. Jessica Liebman, managing editor of Business Insider, writes about this in her February 24, 2012, article: The Number One Mistake People I Interview Are Making These Days.” Liebman, who spends a lot of time interviewing for many different positions writes, “Lately, the majority of people I interview have one thing in common. They’re all messing up on something that I think is very important when trying to get a job: the Thank You Email.”

Liebman gives readers a few pointers on what the thank you email should include:

  • A personal thank you for meeting (or talking) with you
  • A statement that you really want the job
  • A quick plug about why you’re perfect for the position

What to avoid when writing the thank you email

Most professionals agree that an email seems to be “enough” of a gesture when sending a post-interview thank you. However, the gesture of simply hitting send may not be enough if you’ve goofed on these areas (advice via Ritika Trikha’s March 13, 2012, post for US News & World Report titled “7 Goofs to Avoid on a Thank-You Email”):

  1. Starting with “Hey”: Also avoid using the rather useless “Thanks in advance” and “Hope to see you soon.”
  2. Addressing multiple people in one email: At least take the time to write out separate emails for each person from the interview. And, please, don’t just copy each new person’s name on the same email. Be a bit more original than that.
  3. Writing an essay: Thank you emails should be a few sentences max. You should have said everything else during the actual interview.
  4. Using a generic template: Include at least one specific thing that sticks out from the interview; this way the person doing the hiring will also have that one specific moment to keep in mind when making a selection.
  5. Sending the email more than a day after the interview: With the world at our fingertips, there’s no reason sending an email should take longer than a day.
  6. Getting names wrong: Seems obvious, but as Trikha points out, “too many employers complain of misspellings or incorrect names from candidates following up.” If you didn’t think to grab a business card on the way out of the interview, at least have the common courtesy to call and ask the office assistant for proper spellings and titles.
  7. Attaching the note to flowers: This is seen as a professional faux pas these days.

Don’t be afraid to follow up the thank you email with a handwritten or nicely typed letter sent via snail mail. Too often, emails end up in the spam folder and sending a follow-up note in the mail will ensure proper delivery. And please – for the love of Pete – have someone proofread your note before you send it!

What else should be included in a follow up thank you note to the person you interviewed with? Share with us in the comments!

11 replies
  1. jade says:

    Helpful!! But on the goofs where it says sending thank yous days after… does it count if you had the interview on fri and sent on mon… is that a dumb question. Should i have sent it sat??

    Reply
    • Nicole Reinard
      Nicole Reinard says:

      That’s a great question Jade. I highly recommend still sending a follow-up thank you email on Saturday. Even though the interviewers may be out of the office on Saturday and Sunday, they might either A) check their emails throughout the weekend or B) see your email first thing Monday morning. If they see the time stamp that it was sent on Saturday, it makes them see just how interested you are in the job you interviewed for. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  2. daniel says:

    I had an interview on the 12 an today is 24th is it late to send a thankyou mail? The interview went well an I believe the position is still available

    Reply
    • Nicole Reinard
      Nicole Reinard says:

      Hi Daniel,

      If you haven’t heard anything from the company you interviewed with yet, it definitely doesn’t hurt to reach out with a thank you letter or email. Good luck!

      Reply
  3. Jacob Soft says:

    Even after checking out their social media accounts and possibly even credit scores, the “thank you” note will become the deciding factor between differentiating two candidates from the hiring manager’s perspective.

    Reply
  4. Carolyn B says:

    I interviewed a candidate recently and she sent me a nice thank you email to my personal email address that I did not give her (I gave her my business card at the end of the interview and I’m not sure how she got my personal email address). What’s a polite but firm way of letting her know to please not use my personal email address?

    Reply
    • Nicole Reinard
      Nicole Reinard says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      A good way to follow up with a candidate who has reached out to your personal email address would be to respond using your work email, for starters. Let her know it was a pleasure meeting her, and if she has any other questions that are related to the job please reach out to you via your work email address. Hope that answers your question. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  5. ramz says:

    I misspelled the surname. imagine the surname is waitrose, i wrote waistroe (doesn’t sound that ridiculous as this hypothetical example). should i email and apologize?

    Reply
    • Nicole Reinard
      Nicole Reinard says:

      I think it would be wise to follow up with an apology. I recommend stating to the person you’re emailing that you were so excited about potentially joining the team that you accidentally misspelled the name. It’ll show that you’re willing to take the blame when something is your fault, which is very commendable. While it is a small error, it’s better to admit it than ignore it (it might be taken as a sign that you don’t care). Hope that helps! Good luck!

      Reply

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