I have hired quite a few people and have interviewed many more. I’ll be completely honest- not everyone I have hired has written a post-interview thank you email.
I don’t believe you NEED to write a thank you email after your interview to get a job offer.
But don’t stop reading. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write one.
Someone that writes an impactful, personal thank you email after their interview has an edge over someone that doesn’t write one at all. Or even worse, someone that writes a generic thank you email that is sent to every single interviewer.
So let’s go over why you should write an interview thank you email, what you should avoid doing, how you should write it, and also when to avoid writing a thank you email.
How a thank you email after your interview can get you a job offer
On average, about 4 to 6 candidates are interviewed per job posting. One of those candidates will receive a job offer.
These statistics are aligned with my experience. Although, I have been at companies where over 10 candidates were interviewed for each position. These tend to be entry-level positions or positions requiring less experience. That’s because these positions have larger qualified candidate pools as more candidates are available that fit the desired skill set.
Of candidates interviewed, 57% do not send an interview thank you email afterward. That is ~4 of those 6 candidates! That’s a shame. An interview thank you email can really impact your chances of getting a job offer.
How does an interview thank you email impact your chances at a job?
If you fit the basic qualifications for a job, a huge reason for why a candidate will get a job offer over another candidate is because they are likable and fit the company culture.
Too many coaches and advice blogs forget the human element to the hiring process.
I personally have chosen to give offers to candidates with less experience because I felt that they were more collaborative and personable. Teaching an employee new skills is much easier than changing their personality.
An interview thank you email, if written correctly, extends your likeability beyond the interview. It’s that simple.
When an interview occurs, it’s just one hour of an interviewer’s busy day. They might be running from meeting to meeting and your interview is one of those meetings.
Once an interview is done, they go back to their busy lives.
Their experience with you fades in their minds. Especially those first 48 hours after your interview.
HR typically schedules a debrief for each candidate with the interview team. This allows the interview team to provide their opinions to the hiring manager.
A debrief typically takes place at the earliest the day AFTER your interview and sometimes several days after the interview.
Sometimes, if more than one candidate is being interviewed in one week, there is one debrief for all the candidates at the end of the week.
This is why it’s important to send your thank you email the morning after your interview.
Otherwise, the positive impression you made will fade from the interviewer’s mind.
Think about the time you met a GREAT person.
The immediate moment you ended your conversation you had very strong feelings about that person, right? But a couple of days later?
Your strong feelings subside into general pleasantness that isn’t quite as strong emotionally.
That is where a post-interview thank you email comes in.
It reminds them why you are qualified and why they want to work with you.
That is the impact you need to achieve with your interview thank you email. That way, when the interviewer walks into the debrief meeting on your candidacy their opinion of you is fresher in their mind.
So how do you achieve this? First, know what to avoid including in your email.
What you should avoid in your post-interview thank you email
I don’t believe that an interview thank you email is the place to talk about your qualifications and experience.
You should not use your thank you email as a sales pitch for yourself.
First, this should have been conveyed in the interview.
Once your interview is over, the interviewer has already decided whether you qualify for the job or not. Your interview thank you email will not change their mind.
Second, nothing brings up negative emotions like feeling someone is selling something to you persistently. That includes selling yourself.
You want the interviewer to read your email and remember how professional and personable you are.
How they want to work with you.
And if you conveyed your qualifications appropriately during the interview, the combination of these things will get you the job offer.
Also, don’t talk about how much this job means to you or how great it would be for you.
Remember, the interview isn’t about you. It’s about the company and whether you can help the company meet its objectives.
It doesn’t matter if the job would be a great commute for you. Or if it would be a great career pivot, start, etc.
A thank you email is not the place to mention this. This is something that can be mentioned to the HR representative during the interview.
But it does not resonate with interviewers, ESPECIALLY over email.
Don’t send the same email to each interviewer.
This is the most common mistake. Interviewers talk to one another. It is what happens during a debrief. They will realize you sent the same email to all of them.
Who wants to work with someone that won’t even take the time to acknowledge them as an individual?So what SHOULD you convey in your email?
How to structure your thank you email
Keep the email short!
The MOST important thing about your interview thank you email is to KEEP IT SHORT. People are busy and they will not be reading your 2,000 word essay after the interview.
I recommend an interview thank you email to be about 100-150 words.
If your email gets much longer than this, it is unlikely to be read in its entirety. Or worse, it may annoy the reader.
Start the email by thanking the individual for their time.
This is pretty simple. This person took time out of their day to talk to you and consider you for this position. Thank them for it.
Convey your feelings of the company, job, and/or team
Share your feelings of the company, job, and team from the interview.
This should be tailored to who you are emailing.
For HR, think about things such as:
- Were the team members professional?
- What aspects of the company culture impressed you?
- How was the interview experience for you from a logistics perspective?
For a hiring manager, think about things such as:
- Were excited about the company/department objectives?
- Do you think the first 90 day goals of the job are impactful?
- Does the company mission resonate with you?
- Is their managing style one that you work effectively with?
For team members, consider more specific items you learned during the interview that you have positive feelings about.
Whatever positive feelings you have about a relevant area of that interviewer, share it. Typically, I stick to 2-3 sentences for this.
Remember how people want to work with people they like?
Interviewers want to feel YOU are also excited about working with THEM.
If both parties have positive feelings about a potential working relationship, this is a win for everyone. This is what you want to convey in your email.
If you achieve this with your interview and your interview thank you email, your shot at getting the job offer just skyrockets.
Even IF you might not fit all the qualifications perfectly.
Reestablish the human connection you made with the interviewer
I talk about it all the time. It is incredibly important to make a human connection with your interviewer. People will hire people that they WANT to work with.
Choosing a candidate to extend an offer to is not just about a checklist of qualifications.
Your goal during each interview is to make a connection with each interviewer about SOMETHING.
Whether it is the school you both went to, your love of baseball, your line of research, etc. Just about anything. Achieve this by throwing out side-comments (not too many) during the interview and see what resonates.
Be natural about it and make sure the conversation stays focused on the job itself for the vast majority of the time.
If you talked about baseball the entire time, that’s not a good thing.
In your interview thank you email, touch on this connection.
It might be a simple “Go Sox!” at the end of the e-mail.
Or maybe you got the interviewer talking about their upcoming vacation to a place you have been?
Throw in a “I hope you have a great time in Barcelona! Hopefully you have time to check out [that restaurant you mentioned]”.
This should not be forced. You should genuinely have something to touch on.
It should be something that you spent time discussing if you are adding it to your email.
If done correctly, this will remind your interviewer of their positive emotions towards you and desire to work with you.
This can be very impactful prior to the debrief.
Example of an interview thank you email
Here is an example of an interview thank you email implementing the tactics I have outlined:
Thank you so much for spending your time on Tuesday speaking with me.
I am so excited about the opportunity to work for Company X. The company’s mission to develop therapies to treat lung cancer is so compelling to me, especially considering I spent the majority of my time in graduate school researching this disease. I was so impressed by the team’s experience in this area of research.
I am sure you will have a great time at Cape Cod this summer. Hopefully, you get a chance to check out the whale watching!
Short. Simple. Professional. Expresses gratitude. Evoke emotions.
That’s all you need to achieve in your interview thank you email. And remember, if you write an email you are already ahead of the majority of candidates.
When to avoid writing a thank you email
It’s obvious that if you go to a job interview and you don’t want that job, don’t write an interview thank you email.
The exception is an email to the HR representative, thanking them for their time and politely letting them know that you are no longer interested in the job.
But when should you avoid writing an interview thank you email for a job you DO want?
When you can’t cover the two points above: conveying your feelings and reestablishing a human connection.
But there may be an individual that you didn’t have a connection with during the interview.
And maybe you have nothing specific to say about your feelings regarding the job to this interviewer.
It could be that you wouldn’t work with them day to day, so there weren’t a lot of relevant points to discuss with them.
If you cannot write a compelling, honest and thoughtful email covering those two points then you shouldn’t write one at all.
Remember, the worst thing you can do is write a generic email that is impersonal. That will do more harm than good.
So those are my tips for your post-interview thank you email. Have you used these tips? Let me know below!