This common mistake can cost you the job — and it happens after the interview

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There are a few pieces of interview advice that are burned into my brain better than any Britney Spears song, which is really saying something. They go a little something like this: bring a printed resume, ask questions at the end and, maybe the most contended, send a thank you note after the interview.

While not everyone agrees interviewees need to send a thank-you note (just look at the controversy around this Business Insider article), I think everyone could agree that a lot of people who send them mess them up.

Not by sending them too early or by using the wrong salutation or by forgoing the written letter, three anxieties I have actually Googled.

No. A common way people mess up thank you notes is by sending the same one, over and over, to people who are all getting in a room together to discuss their future employment.

The moving part of a post-interview thank-you note is that it’s a small reflection on the side of the interviewee on the conversation, what stuck and how they see themselves fitting into the role and team after taking everything in.

Actually demonstrating that level of engaged listening means a lot of personalization.

A truly mind-blowing thank you note includes small, thoughtful details about the conversation, reflections that demonstrate thought after the interview and questions that have been left unanswered.

But even if you aren’t going for mind-blowing,  sending thank you notes that use the same language or follow too closely in structure to more than one member of the same team is devastating. The rehearsed language can make it seem like you forgot the contents of the interview or didn’t take it too seriously.

Think about it this way: if you’re willing to copy and paste a part of a job application that several decision makers will be seeing, how will you perform on tasks at work, especially those that aren’t in your personal interest?

And even if your hiring manager doesn’t read that into your motivations, the practice is a bit robotic and insincere.

To really “wow” a hiring committee following your interview, write a personalized thank you note for each member of the hiring body that outlines something you remember speaking about with them, a question they answered for you about why this job is a great fit and a note about how you appreciate their time and why you would be good for the role.

And if you don’t have the stamina to do that, just send one.

Don’t worry; your eight person panel isn’t expecting a novel for each and every one of them. Or, at least, not without paying you a few royalties first.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

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