The interview thank you email 2020 complete guide

Getty Images

You’ve got 11 seconds. The reader, a busy HR professional, just saw your email and might not think that there is more to your candidate story. But you knew that if you wanted a second chance at a first impression, writing an interview thank you email was your best option. With a 42% open rate for thank you emails, your message is more than twice as likely to be read as the sales letters that likely flood your interviewer’s inbox. Nonetheless, you’ll have to capture their attention quickly in seconds to win a lasting impact.

In this post you’ll learn the interview thank you email tips that will keep your candidate story top of mind for your interviewer.

Before your interview thank you email: start your elevator pitch

Now You already knew this: developing a strong candidacy requires attention to every touchpoint between you and the hiring company—from the clarity of your resume to how you handle the downtime as you wait for post-interview
feedback. You’ll make mistakes in the process and that’s OK since your last “pitch” opportunity won’t occur during your final interview.

Stay memorable as a candidate by keeping the communication lines open with an interview thank you email that commands a positive response. Your post-interview communications will help transform the details of your resume and the brief glimpse of your personality revealed in the interview into a tangible personal brand—one that your potential employer will see an asset (or a poor match) for the company culture.

Just like every other brand marketer, you’ll need a memorable ad that proves that your “product” (your professional experience) is the right choice.

While other candidates may boast educational and professional qualifications that match or exceed your own, your interview thank you email can remind potential employers of the communications and relationship-building skills that make you stand out. Your thank-you note after the interview pitch is your 11-second Super Bowl spot, ensuring that the hiring manager doesn’t lose sight of the best features of your candidacy in the midst of a noisy competition.

Avoid redundancy in your messaging and focus on your unique value proposition as a candidate: illustrate how your personal brand is a perfect match for “who” the company is in terms of brand identity, not just for the position.

Your interview thank you email or note could mimic a blockbuster movie trailer—a sizzle reel of interview highlights affirming your leading candidate status. Or it could resemble a muttered “Thank You!” from a rushed convenience store clerk—a rote, impersonal gesture instantly forgotten and rarely believed.

Your interview thank you email is a marquee, an opportunity to ensure that your name gets top billing in a crowded field of qualified candidates. Be mindful that the language and delivery used will have a lasting impact
(positive or negative) on your reader.

Think like a screenwriter when creating your interview thank you email

Think of your interview as a great film without a conclusion. Once you’ve presented the basic story during an initial meeting, your thank you note or email will take a few lines to provide an elegant finale, reminding the HR
team of your accomplishments and fitness for the role, as well as underscoring stand-out moments where a specific insight or experience wowed the room.

According to recent research, your email’s subject line and the content will have just seconds to catch your interviewer’s eye and get them to click. Your handwritten note, though less common, still needs to earn their attention from the first line. That means those first 11 seconds should:

  • Provide a unique, descriptive, and memorable detail of your conversation.
  • Draw the interviewer’s thoughts back to the strongest aspects of your candidacy.
  • Succinctly communicate specific business development or customer relationship management objectives that you would work towards if
    you are hired.
  • Deal with any low notes from the interview direct and reframe them in
    a positive context.

Sound like a tall order? Whittling down your career highlights, skillset, and unique value to an organization down to a few lines (all within the confines of a sincere “thank you”) is certainly a challenge, but it shouldn’t intimidate.

Here are five simple rules to follow when writing your thank-you note and follow-up email.

Rule one: Your interview email thank you should be brutally honest

How to write thank-you notes from the brink of disaster

Pam-
I’m sorry for being so rude. Thank you for not hitting me. John.

For John Lennon in 1974, even the worst meet-and-greet (during which a tipsy Lennon helped start a riot and actress Pam Grier and friends were roughly ejected from a concert on his account) necessitated a succinct
thank you note. While it’s highly unlikely that a poor interview will end in fisticuffs, it is important to know how to handle a thank-you note for a meeting that ended badly.

Ask yourself:

Did I inadvertently communicate or respond to my interviewer in a way that may have compromised my candidacy?

Address the issue in a forthright manner without surrendering the overall value of your candidate “story” to a minor mistake. Follow John Lennon’s example and own your error even as you pivot the tone of the note or email towards gratitude for the opportunity to interact.

Sample Email Thank You Email After Interview
Shutterstock

Dear Sue—

Eight years of marketing organic veggie burgers taught me how to introduce unfamiliar foods to new audiences (I am highly experienced and my skills are relevant for this position) and in doing so I learned to open my mind and palate to new food concepts (I understand that this job involves a product mission vastly different from my earlier position, but as a professional I am committed to mastering the required skills and thriving in a new company culture). My scream when you produced the XXL Turducken on a Stick from behind your back was an exclamation of sheer marvel (I won’t pretend I didn’t do something out of the ordinary, but these actions don’t diminish my professionalism or fitness for the opportunity). Thank you for introducing me to a fascinating new product that will be exciting to present to the 97% of New Yorkers who, according to Meat Monthly, are unaware that a  turducken exists in any form. Opportunities abound for turducken education on social media where your most passionate fans are likely to be found (I took the time to research your market challenges and have some ideas on how to address them). Looking forward to your feedback!

Yours,
John

The Takeaway:

  • Address your error briefly.
  • Highlight your qualifications within the context of the error without minimizing your mistake or diminishing your achievements that counterbalance any awkward behavior.
  • Reference your potential employer’s product or service in a positive manner.
  • Use language which implicitly links your unique skillset to your intimate knowledge of the company’s business needs.

Rule 2: Your interview thank you email should show, tell, and show again

Draw a map from your intentions to your capabilities

Your interviewer already read your resume and spoke with you, so you don’t remind them of the obvious unless (as above) you need to counterbalance a mistake that could distract from your candidacy. Your post-interview communications should underscore how your previous work experience helped your skillset evolve as you challenged yourself by setting higher professional goals. Use your thank-you note to draw an unmistakable line from your more general career ambitions (becoming a marketing director) to what you want to do for the company.

Ask yourself: Have I made it clear that my skillset represents my ability to create demonstrable value for my employer?

Sample Thank You Email After Interview
Shutterstock

 

Dear Sam-
Thanks for sharing what Widget Startup has planned for the next year. During our discussion, you told me that that Widget Startup’s 70% growth rate can be maintained by an aggressive social media campaign that focuses on in-app outreach opportunities. Research from Insights Inc. released this week indicates that in-app advertising will remain the best strategy to reach your target market, Gen Z gamers, for the next three years (I paid attention to details during the interview and added value to your insights by looking at forward-looking projections). At Acme Research, I developed a passion for uncovering granular insights on new audience segments. Widget Startup’s most valuable customers are a diverse group, with many of your most vocal brand ambassadors on social media now coming from Gen X (I researched your company’s audience long before our interview and want to put my analytical capabilities to work for your firm). That’s a demographic with an abundance of market penetration opportunities for Widget Startup’s new retro product line (I have been looking at ways to hit the ground running even before you hire me). Looking forward to our next discussion!

All the Best,
Ann

The Takeaway:

  • Make it clear that your skillset represents an enduring passion for professional achievement that has been expressed as tangible business development results for previous employers.
  • Illustrate how your commitment to excellence guides all your professional interactions by presenting evidence of your earlier due diligence research, attention to detail during the interview, and interest in company goals or strategy in your email.
  • Ensure that your email contains a unique takeaway from the interview that you found meaningful as further proof that you are an active
    listener.
  • Present a reason for further discussion based on your knowledge of the company’s market challenges or priorities.

Rule 3: Your thank you email should build a narrative around the company’s mission, not your job search

Identify Those Nagging Interview “Sticking Points”

Even in a robust economy, determining which job offers the financial security that you need and the career advancement that you want can be a challenge. When you’ve finally found a position that seems like a good fit, it is easy to become focused on how perfectly the company matches your career goals. While showing enthusiasm for the position during the interview is great, focusing on your personal career ambitions—rather than how your unique employment journey makes you an asset to the company—can make even the most outstanding candidate blend into the crowd of sound-alike potential hires. That will leave you stuck trying to stand out based on qualifications that hundreds of other applicants might also possess—such as education or years of experience. If your interview didn’t give you a chance an opportunity to truly shine, use your thank-you letter to connect your personal brand with your potential employer’s articulated brand values.

Ask yourself:

Did I present myself as an asset to the company’s pursuit of specific goals, or as just another potential employee?

Sample Thank You Email After Interview
Shutterstock

Dear Robert,
Thanks so much for taking the time to introduce me to the Fresh Veggies- to-Go team. I was impressed by the passion that each member of the quality assurance team expressed for creating customer-facing improvements to the delivery and order processing platforms (I understand your brand’s core values and they resonate with me). During the five years that I spent years working with local distributors across the Northeast I saw how much a time-saving tool like the Fresh Foods Delivery Whiz could improve the bottom-line for a local contractor (I am have experience with the challenges facing the company’s potential customers and can communicate the brand’s unique value to them easily). As you mentioned that Fresh Veggies-to-Go plans to expand to the Northwest, I was pleased to discover that more than 78 percent of rural grocery delivery customers in a recent survey by Insights Inc. stated that they would subscribe to a delivery service that gave them access to fresh local vegetables (I am aware of market opportunities and qualified to help lead outreach). I look forward to speaking with you and the team again.
Yours, Bill

The Takeaway:

  • Emphasize the authenticity of your personal brand’s connection to company mission in your thank-you note or email with a specific example of a values-driven achievement or a professional milestone.
  • Reinforce the idea that your employment experience has practical applications for the company’s current business development objectives.
  • Provide an example of an on-going commitment to understanding your former employer’s consumer base, business model, and mission.
  • Use language that signifies an understanding of the company ethos: the customer service goals that matter most to the brand should resonate (or at least be compatible) with the professional values that you have demonstrated throughout your career.

Handwritten vs. Email: The Great Debate

Let’s end that debate right here: use both. Place a short, handwritten thank- you note in the mail within two days of your interview. It should be detail- rich, original, but not glib. This helps underscore your ability to add a personal touch to client or customer relationship management. A simple fold-over card made of high-quality paper found at any office supply store will do.

writing note
Shutterstock

Jeff—
Thanks again for the great stories about your first days on the job. It got me thinking. As your social marketing campaign launches, opportunities abound to repurpose Toy Co’s video series from ’08 (currently trending) to reach your most challenging audience, Gen Z, with an in-app offer. Let’s keep this conversation going.
Thanks again,
Emma

 

Ellen—
Thanks for sharing Amazing Robot Group’s vision for the robotics industry. As a 10-year veteran in AI, I know many of us in the industry have dreamt of these innovations since AI Slam Conference in 2010. I see so many opportunities on the horizon for ARG to open new markets in Asia and Europe. These are exciting times. Looking forward to another discussion with the team.
All the best,
Jill

Top 5 Rules for the Perfect Handwritten Note

  • Keep it short and unique. X An overly long handwritten note may seem more like a gimmick than a sincere expression of gratitude. No need to write more than a few lines.
  • Allude to a detail that identifies you clearly. Be it a reference to a conference that you both attended or a personal story, make sure your note reminds them of the relevant detail of your conversation.
  • Make sure your handwriting is legible. Do we even need to say this? A sloppily written note can do more harm than good, showing carelessness and poor judgment. Praise the company and interviewer—within reason. Flattery will not only make you sound desperate but also disingenuous. Offer an honest positive review of your experience that reflects the tone of the interview and communicates your continued interest in the position, referencing the interviewer’s presentation of the company’s attributes (not just your need for a new job).
  • Make it clear that your note isn’t just an effort to be polite.
  • Reward your reader with a new, relevant idea or detail that shows your reader that you understand the company’s goals, challenges, and strategy and that you would be an enthusiastic contributor if hired.

Why Thank You Notes Matter

Your thank-you note is an opportunity to reflect your personality while showcasing your short-form communication skills. Unlike your cover letter, your thank-you note and email will illustrate how you might interact with an important client or leave a lasting impression on a customer who needs to be coaxed into a decision. After your interview it’s your last chance to make your personal brand story memorable and relevant to your interviewer’s hiring mandate.

While it may be your final opportunity to have a final say on your candidature, don’t obsess over it. The totality of your presentation—from your resume to the cover letter to your references to your interview—will be taken into account as HR makes their decision. Your thank-you note can help your application, but an imperfect interview follow-up won’t erase the value of everything that came before.

Want more post-interview tips? Read Ladders 2019 Interviews Guide: Bonus interview tips and questions.