I am often asked if it makes sense to write thank you letters after an interview. I have also received my fair share of thank you letters after I have conducted interviews. For me, receiving a thank you letter has never really swayed me one way or the other. However when I interview I write them. For me I do this for a few reasons, the first being it doesn’t hurt your chances of landing a job. Unless you write something offensive or come off as a grammatical disaster, the worst thing that can happen is that a thank you letter makes no impact. The second reason is that some people really appreciate getting a thank you letter, so obviously if the person who interviews you feels this way you would be better off having sent one. The third reason I send them is I think it’s the right thing to do and so often it’s the little things that add up to make a big difference. That person to time out of their day to listen to you, ask you questions and answer your questions, the least you can do is type up a quick email. The fourth and final reason I advocate writing thank you letters is I always imagine that you are one of two final candidates. Everything down the line is equal, great resume, interviewed great, perfect skills for the role, great culture fit etc. If this ends up being the case and they end up making a decision the greatly impacts your career, would you rather be the person who wrote a thank you letter or not?
So that perfectly sums up the way I feel about thank you letters. Competition for anything meaningful will always be stiff and I believe in giving myself every possible advantage. I also get asked if it makes sense to write one thank you letter or if you should write one for every person you met with. I personally believe very strongly in the latter and here’s why. You are writing this email to make an impact; a generic thank you letter will not do if that is your goal. So take the time and write one to everyone person you meet with along the way. (TIP: ask for everyone’s business cards when meeting them so you don’t have to look around for them later. If you do happen to leave without all the business cards, call the receptionist; let them know your situation, usually they are happy to help)
So, now that we know whether or not you should write a thank you letter, let’s discuss how you write a good one. To write a good cover letter you should follow these four steps; 1. Thank them for meeting with you 2. Reference something positive and specific from your conversation with them, preferably something job related that really resonated with you, 3. Reiterate why you feels your skills and background make you a slam dunk for this role, 4. Thank them again and express your interest in the role. Now let’s cover these one by one.
The first thing you want to do is thank them for their time. Something to the effect of “I wanted to take a moment to thank you for meeting with me today and answering my questions.” You can feel free to expand a bit but that’s the basis of it. You are setting the ground work for the rest of the letter and letting them know the main reason you felt it necessary to write them.
Secondly, reference something you spoke about during the conversation. This is where you can differentiate yourself from a standard, cookie cutter thank you letter. So let’s say for example they mentioned a mentorship program that they have and why they think it’s important. You might say “I especially enjoyed your explanation of your organizations mentorship program. To me, one of the most important things a company can give you is the ability to grow and develop. It sounds like your organizations mentorship program is one of the many ways your employees are able to develop and grow which is really appealing to me”. This works better if they are passionate about whatever you are talking about, so when you look back on the conversation, look for their passion and reference why you feel similarly about it.
The next thing you want to do is reiterate why you are a good fit. It makes sense to reference the conversation if they gave you something to work with in terms of mission or vision. If they say something like “moving forward we plan to differentiate ourselves by improving the customer experience…” then you might say something like “I feel like my background, education and skills make me a great fit for this role. In addition my passion for impacting the customer experience in a positive manner makes me ideal for the direction your company is interested in moving towards.” Feel free to expand as it makes sense and where you see commonalities between the job description and your background.
Lastly thank them and let them know you are interested in the role. Many times people assume that them showing up is indication enough of their interest in a role, it isn’t. And even if it is enough, people like it when you let them know you are interested. Something like, “Thank you again for your time today and I am very much so looking forward to hearing from you regarding next steps”. And that’s it. If you do those four things you will successfully write a great thank you letter that could very well get you over the hump when it comes to getting your job. Please feel free to leave any comments or ask any questions below regarding cover letters.