Oftentimes I am asked by job seekers what they should do immediately after an interview. They are not sure why the follow up is so important, when and how to follow up, and the age old question….”Should I send an e-mail, mail a thank you card or leave it with the receptionist on the way out the door?”
Let’s tackle the first area….why the follow up is so important. Say for instance, you are having an intimate gathering at your house and you post a notice on Facebook and 100 people respond saying they want to attend. You know you can only accommodate a few people so you choose very carefully. You finally narrow it down to the 3 guests you will extend a personal invitation to. Those 3 people accept and come to the intimate gathering at different times. You speak with each of them in great detail for an hour, give them a tour of your home and feel like you have gotten to know each of them a little better. Over the next day or 2 you begin to wonder if your guests enjoyed themselves and had a good time in your home. You check your mailbox and to your surprise you have received a nice thank you card from 1 of the guests saying they had a great time and were really appreciative of your invite. You didn’t hear anything from the other 2 so you are now really wondering if they had a good time or if you should have even invited them in the first place.
It is the same way with the job interview. The employer posts a job and 100+ people submit their resume. The employer narrows it down to the top 3 candidates to bring to his office (his “home”). During the interview he spends time going into detail about the company and job opening and perhaps gives candidates a tour of the facilities. Afterwards, he is trying to decide who would be the best fit for his already established team. He comes in the next morning and finds an e-mail from you thanking him for taking the time to interview you. You also attach other information to help him understand your background and experience a little better. He heard nothing from the other 2 candidates. Who do you think will stand out in his mind when he goes to make the hiring decision? Exactly! That’s why it is so important…..plus it’s just nice to be nice. Employers say that they appreciate thank you letters and it can make the difference as to whether they hire a candidate or not. If there are 2 candidates that are neck and neck and the hiring manager needs to make a decision between the 2, he is more likely to lean towards the one that sent a thank you.
The second area…..when and how to follow up. You should definitely follow up with an employer right away. You want to do it while they still remember you and you have an opportunity to make a final impression on them. Now, whether you e-mail or use snail mail or give a thank card to the receptionist on your way out the door, I don’t think it really matters. All of these are acceptable methods and serve the same purpose. The ultimate objective is to thank them BEFORE they make their hiring decision. Obviously, giving a thank you card to the receptionist or sending an e-mail later that evening when you get home guarantees an immediate effect. But having them receive a card in the mail from you is also a nice touch because we all like to receive something in the mail. If you do decide to go with a thank you card, make sure it is professional and standard (nothing pink with flowers and polka dots). It should be bare on the inside or have minimal words. (Tip: If you don’t have good penmanship, get someone else to write inside the card for you!)
Here is an example of a thank you sent as an e-mail:
Dear Mr./Ms. (last name):
It was a pleasure meeting you today. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to visit (company name) and interview for the _________________ position. I was especially interested to learn that your company (mention something specific discussed in the interview).
I have included my LinkedIn profile/portfolio/website/blog* so you can get a more in-depth look at my skills and background. I am excited about the possibility of becoming a member of your team. If you need any further information, you may contact me at (214) 555-5555. I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks again!
* Pick just one to include in the thank you letter.