Don’t Let the Interviewer Think You Were Raised by Wolves: Send a Thank You Email

A woman holds her husky puppy as she writes an email from her sofa at home.
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Writing a thank you email after an interview might seem old school, but it’s still very much in vogue. In fact, most workplaces view post-interview thank you emails as common courtesy, if not an actual requirement to get the job.

High-ranking industry experts like Business Insider’s Jessica Liebman have even been quoted saying they won’t move forward with a candidate unless they receive a thank you note after the interview. So listen to what your grandparents say because it turns out that manners haven’t gone out of style.

It’s Good Manners to Say Thanks

Whether you’re prepping for another round of interviews or crossing your fingers that you impressed the hiring manager after the last one, thank-you emails are an important job search skill. Here’s everything you need to know about writing the perfect thank you note that may actually help you land the job.

Be Prompt

Just as you’d promptly thank someone for a gift, thank you emails should be sent quickly — as in 24 hours or less after your job interview. There are a few reasons behind this, and the first one is simply because you’ll still be fresh in the mind of the hiring manager’s mind. If you send a note a week later, your interviewer might have a hard time remembering you after talking with so many candidates. It’s also possible the hiring process is moving quickly, and sending a late note could even mean missing your window to send one at all.

Make it Personal

Another way to stand out in your thank you email is by personalizing it. This might mean including some little detail of your conversation or even inquiring about something the interviewer mentioned. For example, if they said the office was extra busy from an ongoing conference, you could ask them how it’s going.

These little personal details might seem like overkill, but anything you can recall and mention in your email will ultimately make your interviewer feel like you were listening and that you care. Empathy is a valuable trait in many workplaces, and being a good listener is a good way to flaunt those social skills for the hiring managers. If you have a tendency to forget details, get in the habit of taking notes directly after each interview.

Be Enthusiastic

If your email sounds boring or like you couldn’t give a Fig Newton about landing the job, that’s going to come through. When writing a thank you note, do your best to sound passionate and motivated — without ending every sentence with an exclamation mark. The best way to do this? Just be honest. Maybe you’re really excited about one particular aspect of the job, or perhaps you’re looking forward to working on a certain project. Whatever gets you jazzed about the position is worth mentioning, and your interviewer will appreciate the candid enthusiasm.

Go the Extra Mile

If you want the job and expect the hiring process to be competitive, now’s the time to pull out all the stops and to prove you’re the best candidate for the job. You might casually include some additional work samples that are relevant to the role, or offer a solution to a company problem that came up during the interview. Anything you can do to show off how qualified you are will give you an edge over the competition, as long as your efforts aren’t overwhelming. For example, while offering a solution in a sentence or two is good, sending a 30-page report probably isn’t.

Be Confident

Which brings us to our next point. Aside from actually sending the note, one of the most important parts of writing a post-interview thank you email is to come across as confident. Nobody wants to hire someone who seems overly unsure, timid, or like they’re begging for the position.

Make sure your letter exudes confidence (even if it’s a “fake it till you make it” situation), and end things on a positive and upbeat note. Skip any whiny-sounding sign offs such as “I really hope to hear from you soon” and close instead with “Hope you have a good rest of your week” or something similar. Act like your interviewer’s equal and treat them just as you would any colleague — friendly and professional.

Don’t Forget to Say Thanks

Don’t get so caught up in writing about these other details that you forget to actually do what you set out to accomplish at the beginning, that is, to actually thank your interviewer. I like to do this right off the bat in one of the first few sentences. Something like, “Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me,” always sounds good and lets them know you appreciate the time they took out of their day to interview you. Once you’ve thanked them, move on and don’t get caught in a web of “thank-you’s.” Say it once, then focus on developing your note with other points on this list, by making it personal or going the extra mile.

Include Your Contact Information

Chances are your interviewer already has your contact information, but it never hurts to add it  after your signature. Be sure to include your personal website address, email address, and phone number. This makes forwarding your information easier should your interviewer want to pass you along to someone for next steps, and it’s also just a common professional courtesy that makes life easier.

Keep It Short & Casual

Remember, the best emails are short and sweet, and email thank you notes should be too. Keep your email brief (as in 200 words or less), and even shorter if you don’t actually have much to say other than thanking them.

You’ll also want to keep your email casual, unless you’re interviewing for a position that calls for something more formal. If you referred to your interviewer by their first name in the interview, continue to do so in your email. Always remember: you want to write like you’re talking. If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it.

Larissa Runkle is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.