“It was a pleasure speaking with you today. Thank you for the recommendation to read The Power of Less, maybe we can trade notes when you’re done with Tribes! We will be in touch about next steps soon.”
That was part of a reply I received to a post-interview thank you note I wrote to the VP of sales. Four hours after receiving that reply, I got a call from the recruiter offering me a job.
A month after I was hired, I had a one-on-one with that VP and the first question she asked me was about the books we recommended to each other.
Leading up to the thank you note, we had spent 40 minutes on the phone together talking through introductions, behavioral questions, and case studies to see if I was a good fit for the role. While that conversation factored into the decision, my answers weren’t what stood out in her mind.
It was the personal touch that stuck.
As a candidate, you want to be focused on two things during the job search:
- How can I build relationships with people who can influence the hiring decision
- How can I stand out from all of the other candidates vying for this job
The post interview thank you email is a highly effective (and incredibly easy) tactic that covers both bases. It’s also overlooked by 76% of job seekers. Talk about low hanging fruit!
After interviewing at dozens of companies with over 100 people, I’ve had the chance to send (and test) plenty of thank you notes. This article will walk you through the template I’ve found to be the most effective and helped me land jobs at leading companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and more.
Why The Post-Interview Thank You Matters
Before we get technical, it’s important to understand why writing a thank you note is important in the first place.
Most people think their interview is over when they walk out of the building. Whether they absolutely crushed it or things didn’t go according to plan, it’s out of their hands now, right?
Not so fast.
Hiring managers at top companies pay very close attention to how and when their candidates follow up. Most are expecting some sort of thank you and failing to send one actually could cost you the job (or redeem a sub-par interview performance).
The data reveals that close to 80% of hiring managers feel that thank you notes are helpful when deciding between candidates. 22% of employers are less likely to hire a candidate who does not send a thank you and 91% actually like being thanked (imagine that!).
In addition to playing into your potential employer’s expectations, thank you notes are an easy way to stand out from the competition. Despite all of the data above, only 24% of job seekers actually take the time to send a thank you note after their interview.
Should I Email, Call, Or Hit Them Up On Twitter?
If you run a Google search for “interview thank you notes,” you’ll get all sorts of suggested mediums for sending – email, phone calls, Twitter, text messages, and even hand written notes.
All of these can get the job done but we want to choose the method that’s going to make things fast and easy for the interviewer on the other end.
Rather than sliding into their DMs, the data shows that interviewers prefer receiving thank you notes via email (with phone calls coming in at a close second):
When you’re in the room on interview day, it’s much more natural to ask for someone’s email than their phone number. On top of that email allows you to spend time crafting your response and you can track your them using a tool like Yesware to help gauge interest.
For those reasons, I recommend sending all of your thank you notes via email.
When Is The Best Time To Send Your Thank You?
This is a question I get a lot.
When it comes to following up with hiring managers, posting articles on social media, or sending breaking news to a contact, timing is everything and there is a science behind it.
When it comes to thank you notes, the golden rule is simple:
The Best Time To Send Your Thank You Note
Send your thank you as quickly as you can while still allowing yourself enough time to craft a quality email.
If you’re a numbers person, shoot for 30 minutes – 2 hours after the interview, but don’t pull your hair out if you can’t get it out until later in the day. Life gets in the way and it’s far more important to send it later then not send it at all.
Two Common Thank You Email Templates To Avoid
Now that you know why, when, and how to send your thank you email, let’s dive into the science behind crafting an email that helps you build a relationship with your interviewer and stand out from other candidates.
We’ll start by looking at the mistakes most candidates make when sending their post-interview thank you emails.
When it comes to thank you’s, the most common formats tend to fall into two buckets:
Bad Email #1
Dear Mr. Last Name:
I enjoyed speaking with you today about the assistant account executive position at [Company]. The job seems to be an excellent match for my skills and interests.
In addition to my enthusiasm, I will bring to the position strong writing skills, assertiveness, and the ability to encourage others to work cooperatively with the department.
I appreciate the time you took to interview me. I am very interested in working for you and look forward to hearing from you regarding this position.
This email showcases zero personality and is so painfully formal that it can actually come off as unprofessional. You just spent an hour in a room trying to build a relationship with this person, you want your thank you note to be a reflection of your conversation!
Here’s what the second most common email looks like:
Bad Email #2
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I really enjoyed speaking with you about the position and am looking forward to next steps.
While this is far better than Email #1, it leaves a lot on the table. Again, after chatting with someone for an hour, you should have a little bit more to say than “thanks, hope to hear from you soon!”
Remember, your thank you note is a huge opportunity for you to stand out, continue building a relationship with your interviewer, and cement that positive association in their mind.
We want to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to capitalize on those three things.
A Great Thank You Note Starts During The Interview
In order to maximize the value we deliver with our thank you note, we need to gather as much information as we possibly can during the interview.
These details come from the small talk you make before the interview starts, the conversations sparked by your answers or your resume, and the questions you ask your interviewer.
This is more of an art than a science and truly a case of practice makes perfect. Here are some pointers to get you started:
- There is always a few minutes of small talk before the interview starts – use that to spark up a conversation. For example, if it’s a Monday or Tuesday, ask how their weekend went. If it’s Wednesday – Friday, ask if they have plans for the upcoming weekend.
- If they begin talking, ask follow up questions. The longer you can get them to continue, the more information you get and the higher the odds of them creating a positive association with you in their brain.
- At the end of the interview, have questions prepared (here’s a list of my favorites). I always end an interview by asking them about their personal life outside of work.
The more personal information you get during the interview, the more ammo you have to include in your thank you note.
Remember the response I quoted in the opening paragraph of this post?
That VP had asked me about a book I read recently that made an impact on me. As soon as I answered, I asked her the same question. I hadn’t read the book she mentioned, but I was very familiar with the author (Seth Godin).
I followed that up by asking her what she likes to read (“are you a non-fiction only kind of person?”) and how she finds the time to read with her crazy schedule.
Those two follow up questions sparked a conversation that lasted 15 minutes and helped me build a rapport.
In my thank you note, I mentioned that I ordered the book and appreciated the recommendation. A week later (after reading it), I followed up with her and mentioned my two favorite points the author made.
The mention in the thank you note helped me land the job and the follow up helped me start my new career with a fan in upper management.
The Most Effective Thank You Email Template
As mentioned above, I went on 50+ interviews and spoke to well over 100 people during the course of my job search. That meant a lot of thank you notes and, better yet, a lot of opportunity to test what format works best.
After all was said and done, the template below is the one my data showed to be most effective. I measured “effectiveness” by the percentage of people who replied as well my success rate for scoring a slot in the next round of interviews (or getting the offer).
Here’s why it works.
To start, we lead off with our “thank you.” It sounds dumb, but you’d be surprised at how many people fail to actually include the words “thank you” in their note (seriously, I see this a surprising amount with the people I’ve coached). Instead they imply it by saying stuff like “great chatting with you.”
People are busy, especially as you get further up the food chain. Their time is valuable and it goes a long way to acknowledge that. Don’t just imply, make sure you actually write out the words.
Next, we make a point to show them that we listened and understood.
Full attention is a rare thing in today’s world and people like interviewers expect to have it from you. By recapping a point that you spoke about in your conversation, it shows that you were listening and engaged.
Bonus points if you add in an action you took based on the conversation or share a relevant (and quality) piece of content.
Then, at the end of the email we do the exact same thing again by taking a personal angle in the PS (for best results, mention taking action against advice your interviewer gave you, illustrate your results, and finish with a follow up question).
This help solidify my level of engagement in the interviewer’s mind and keeps the door open to continue the conversation and build the relationship.
Now It’s Your Turn
Click below to get a free copy of my proven Thank You email template. All you need to do is copy, paste, fill in the blanks, and hit send. I’ve also included several sample Thank You emails based on different scenarios so you can see what real, fully fleshed out emails look like:
Get The “Copy & Paste” Thank You Email Template For Free: