Writing the perfect thank-you after your interview

groundhog-day-funny-thank-you

Every email, every report, every memo that you write is a presentation. One piece of writing that can really determine your future, is the ever challenging thank-you note: After you’ve written the perfect cover letter and resume, made a great first impression and aced the interview, you have one more chance to make it or break it!

Recently, I’ve been on the other side of the table, interviewing new grads for jobs as management consultants. And the other day I received the best follow up email, maybe in the history of thank-you notes! In fact it was so good, it turned an average candidate into an amazing one.

So what is the best way to send up a follow up note? Keep reading for some tips and tricks!

1. Send a personal note to each person you met with
Mass emailing is a sure fire way to show that you are lazy. Send a note to each person you met with and try to personalize it in some way. Try talking about something that was talked about in the interview itself.

Always ask for a business card and google people before you email them. You may find out something interesting about them. In my case, the candidate knew about my blog and mentioned it in the follow up email.

There is a fine line between sincerity and BS. The trick is how to do it? The best test is to think if it actually makes sense. The next is to avoid using commonly used words. Let me ask you what sounds more legit:

“Thank you for interviewing me today. I really enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you today”

“I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today. I felt like we had a great conversation and I can definitely picture us working together!”

It’s not the interviewing that deserves thanks, rather it’s the time that they invested. It’s hard to enjoy an opportunity, it’s easy to have a great conversation. Also note that “thank you”, “opportunity”, are pretty overused words in a thank you notes. Use your thesaurus to use different words that will help you stand out.

2. Send your follow up email quickly
I think the best part about the note I received was the speed with which I received it! I think the email was sent from the lobby of the building, I literally received it some 15 mins after the interview. But this was no ordinary email: it was personalized, hand-crafted, and called for action!

3. Call to action
At the end of your follow up email, ask for something. Most people will ask for a permission to add on LinkedIn or a coffee. These are not bad, but will rarely trigger a response. If you want to meet again, make sure you have a reason to grab a coffee: if there was something in the interview you spoke about, or better yet, something you found out about them on google, ask to grab a coffee to talk about something they are interested in. Or maybe a follow up phone call for some additional coaching.

Realize you may not get a response, some companies are strict on communication with candidates while the hiring process is on going. But you never know! Maybe you’ll get some valuable tips for your second round interview, maybe you’ll just make a good connection for some future endeavour, and maybe absolutely nothing of value will come from it. But by asking for something, you place a sense of importance on the other person — that they have some knowledge or inspiration that if they shared with you, would make you a better person. That’s something powerful that’s hard for most people to resist!

In my case, the candidate was interviewed by 3 other people. Based on the scoring from the other interviewers and the original resume and cover letter, the candidate was a maybe. But everyone agreed that we all received amazing, personalized, follow up emails and put the candidate through to the next round!

In the end, if you had a terrible interview, the follow up email won’t save it. But if you are in the running, but maybe just outside of a spot that’s where it will make the most difference. And if you are near the top, it will solidify people’s choice — and might even make sure you don’t get beat by someone who was just a little bit worse than you, but followed up with a great follow up email.

Remember, writing a thank-you note, like presenting, is an art form. So make your next thank-you note into a masterpiece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

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