In today’s changing job search landscape, knowing how to handle a virtual interview from start to finish can truly set you apart from competitors — including how to follow up with a thank you note after a remote interview.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote interviews are now part of the new normal for many potential employees. From the research you do to prepare for your interview to the conversations you have with a potential employer, many aspects of the interview process remain the same despite the new virtual dynamics. Sending a thank you note after an interview is still on the list of must-dos, but you’ll need to tailor the note to fit today’s unique circumstances.
While handwritten thank you notes used to be standard procedure, sending a thank you note via email after a remote interview is perfectly appropriate. In fact, with most jobs switching to more telecommute roles during the coronavirus pandemic, this shows a willingness to communicate effectively in a virtual way.
One Accountemps survey found that approximately 80% of hiring managers said that receiving a thank you note after an interview is helpful in selecting who gets the job, but the same survey found that only 24% of these hiring managers reported receiving such a note from applicants. With this data in mind, it isn’t hard to see how sending a thank you note can help you stand out from the crowd.
Know when to send
The ideal time to send your thank you note after a remote interview is about 24 hours after your virtual meeting. Sending too soon may give off the impression that you didn’t put too much thought into what you wanted to say. Alternatively, you don’t want to wait so long that you miss the opportunity altogether.
You generally have a short window of time between the end of your interview and when the hiring decision is made. Companies tend to make a decision about an applicant within 48 hours of the interview, so your follow up email needs to be sent before the decision is made.
Craft a standout subject line
Inboxes are especially full during the current pandemic. With most things being done digitally from a distance, it is more important than ever not to let your emails get lost in the crowd. Be sure to specify in your subject line your name, the job title you interviewed for, and the words “thank you” to help easily identify exactly what you’ve sent.
Examples: Thank You — Accounts Payable Position, [Your Name]; Thank You — [Your Name] Media Manager Interviewee
Use a proper greeting
In the case of a follow-up thank-you note after a remote interview, you have already spoken with the person to whom you are addressing your email. Whether you had a remote interview on the phone or by way of a video conference, you should take note of how you addressed the interviewer at that time.
If you begin your conversation by addressing them formally (Good morning, Mr. [Last Name]), but they then instructed you to call them by their first name, it is acceptable to continue to do so when you send a follow up thank you email. However, if the subject was not addressed specifically in the interview, using formalities and their last name is still appropriate.
Express your gratitude
Showing appreciation for the time your interviewer took to meet with you is the main purpose of writing a thank you note after an interview. This is specifically important when following up after a remote interview, so be sure that is the first thing on the agenda when composing your message.
This is also one point in your thank you email where you can acknowledge the current circumstances with ease by pointing out how much you appreciated seeing them face-to-face, albeit virtually.
“Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me yesterday. I know remote interviews are new for both of us, but I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with you.”
“I appreciate the time you took to hold our virtual meeting. It was nice to connect face-to-face, despite not being able to meet in person yet.”
If your interview went well, it makes sense to remind them what it was that makes you a great fit for the role, as well as how excited you are about the opportunity. You can do this by recalling specific details of your conversation while expressing passionate interest in the role.
“It was encouraging to hear that you’re looking for a self-starter like myself to fill this role and I enjoyed learning more about the collaborative spirit your workplace encourages.”
“I was thrilled to learn about the growth potential within the accounting supervisor role and enjoyed our conversation about how my management skills would work well within your team.”
If your interview didn’t go as well as you had hoped, this is your chance to make up for it. You can highlight your expertise while showing enthusiasm about future possibilities to fill in the gaps where your interview may have been lacking.
“I’m excited about the potential opportunity to work for a company who values productivity and open communication as much as I do.”
“I’m eager to learn more about your company’s innovative sales approach and think my outgoing personality could bring a lot of success to the team.”
Mention interview specifics
Workdays right now are filled with video call after video call, and that is especially true for anyone in a role interviewing potential job candidates remotely. Sometimes a hiring manager’s memory of applicants can run together if they’re staring at a computer screen reading a thank you email instead of seeing you face-to-face, whether in person or via video.
To help jog their memory, touch on a high note from your interview when you send your thank you email after a remote interview. Maybe there was a moment where you connected over a funny workplace story or found out you went to the same college. Perhaps you stumbled on a rarely shared interest like skydiving, or a similar coffee order.
Anything that seemed to be a highlight of conversation or point of connection can be thrown in in an eloquent way. This is a small thing that will look different for everyone, but when worked into your thank you note, it can make a big impact.
“It was also so great to connect with a fellow UCLA grad.”
“I’ll have to try adding almond milk to my coffee order next time as you suggested.”
Address next steps
The end of your thank you note following an interview should address the next steps in the hiring process. However, you also want to make it a point to acknowledge that things may be moving at a slower pace than before the pandemic.
You can show that you understand that it may take the employer longer to get back to you than normal due to the current circumstances by mentioning it directly. Things are still somewhat upside down as many employers figure out how to move forward in a remote work environment. This step not only shows compassion but the awareness that you are up-to-date on how the current state of affairs impacts their workplace.
Additionally, include a call to action that increases your odds of getting a reply back regarding the position.
“I know it might take a little longer than normal for onboarding given the current circumstances, but I’m looking forward to hearing from you regarding the next steps in the hiring process.”
“If you have any other questions for me, please let me know. Although I’m sure things could take a while given the current circumstances, I’m looking forward to hearing from you.”
Wrap it up with more appreciation
Ending on a note of thanks shows that you genuinely did intend for the email to be taken as a show of gratitude in good faith following your remote interview.
Reiterate your thanks and then use a respectful sign off such as “Sincerely” or “Warmest Regards” followed by a comma and your name.
“Again, I sincerely appreciate your time.”
“Thank you again for your time.”
Use a professional email address: This is of the utmost importance before you begin any type of email communication with a potential employer. If your email address is anything other than some variation of your name or initials, consider changing it to something more professional.
Check your signature: Make sure that your name, phone number, email, website (with an appropriate hyperlink), and address are all clearly stated in your signature when emailing a thank you note after your remote interview. This not only shows your professionalism, and a willingness to be contacted, but it makes it easier for the hiring manager to reach out to you once they have made a final decision.
Keep it short and sweet: You want to remind the person you interviewed with that you’re exactly who they want to hire without droning on about how great you are. Pointing out a few highlights from your remote interview, acknowledging your understanding of the current circumstances, and keeping gratitude front and center in your follow up thank you note will help you stand out from the crowd without taking up too much more of their time.
Ashley Jones is a frequent contributor to Ladders News.