Saying Thank You
Though many people think of the thank-you letter as superfluous, it is a mandatory part of the job-search process. Many recruiters even claim that the thank-you letter, which is essentially the same as a follow-up letter, is sort of a last test of a candidate's suitability. If they receive the letter within the next few days, the candidate scores some definite points with the interviewer. If they do not receive a letter, the job may go to another candidate who had the courtesy to thank the interviewer for his time.
Aside from being a recruiter test, sending a thank-you letter to the person or people with whom you met during your interview can be a way for you to underscore your continued interest in the position and the company. If you've ever been in the situation where you've come up with the perfect response to a question three hours after the fact, the follow-up letter is the way you can express such a response.
Though it should be short and sweet, you should feel free to (tactfully) mention any details you may have forgotten in the course of the interview. Do this first in an e-mail. If the interview didn't go as well as you had hoped it to, the thank-you letter is also the time to win back some lost points.
Be polite and make sure to express your continued interest in the position, as well as your ability to perform the duties the job requires. Make sure to proofread the letter carefully and, if you're unsure of how to spell the person's name, call the company and ask the receptionist or someone else who might know.
Many interviewers think a handwritten note shows care and personalizes the candidate's desire for hire. While a handwritten letter on a piece of nice stationery is the best way to do it (provided your writing is legible), sending a quick e-mail is okay, too.
If the interviewer's e-mail address is listed on her card, use it. If not, don't ask for it. Make sure to write and send this thank-you letter immediately following the interview so that your meeting is still fresh in the interviewer's mind. It will help put a face to the letter and maybe even a face to the position she's hiring for.
Sample Follow-Up Letter—Snail Mail
Your Street Address
Your City, State, and Zip Code
Company Street Address
Company City, State, and Zip Code
Dear Mr./Ms. Interviewer's Last Name:
The first paragraph doesn't need to be much longer than two to three sentences. Its purpose is to say thank you to the interviewer for her time, and to mention something about the interview that will jog this person's memory as to who you are and put a face to the name on the letter.
Use the second paragraph to restate your interest in the company and the position, and make mention (again) of your most relevant skills. If there is something you forgot to mention during the course of the interview, this is the place to say it.
The last paragraph will say a final thank you and let the interviewer know how much you are looking forward to hearing from her. If you have made definite plans to follow up—that is, if you are supposed to call the interviewer the next week—be sure to remind her that you plan to do so.