You walk out of the interview and take a deep breath, you feel relieved that you’ve done all you can to bag your dream job. The weeks of preparation and stress over the interview dress code has finally been put to bed. But don’t stop there! There’s one more crucial step to take to ensure that position has your name written all over it; sending a follow up thank you letter.
Don’t start to panic! We’ve got you covered with this in-depth guide on what should you include in your thank you letter, with top tips on formatting, suggestions and samples.
The Structure of a Thank You Letter/ Email
As with any formal letter/ email in the workplace, you must stick to some simple formatting rules to ensure your letter is professional and readable.
Your letter should follow the structure below:
Sender’s address: Begin your letter by typing your address in the top right-hand corner of the page. In American English, the sender's address can sometimes be found in the top left corner (only take this step if it’s a handwritten letter).
Date: The date should appear a few lines below the letterhead – avoid this part if your request is via email.
Inside address: The company’s address should be written a few lines below the date - again if it’s via email, skip this step.
Subject: Keep the subject of your email short and sweet by simply writing “Thank You”. If you do want to jazz it up you can follow the below suggestions:
- Thank you, [hiring manager’s name]
- Thank you for the interview, [hiring manager’s first name]
- Thank you for the opportunity, [hiring manager’s first name]
- Writing to say thank you for the interview
- I wanted to thank you for the chance to interview with you
Salutation: As this is a formal letter make sure you address the reader appropriately. You could open with ‘Dear Ms Smith’, or you could call them by their first name if you feel comfortable enough, for example, ‘Dear Janine’.
Opening paragraph: In your first paragraph, you should express your appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity. Thank them for their time and reiterate how excited you are about the opportunity (without being too cheesy!).
Body: This is your space to link back to your interview to highlight your strong points and mention the value that you would bring to the company. You can do this by referencing a conversation you had during the interview. For example, an upcoming project they mentioned that you could help with.
Final paragraph: In the third paragraph, you can touch on something you feel was left out during the interview. Or you can rectify a mistake that you made (interviewers know that you are nervous and will appreciate this move). If you bonded over a personal topic with the hiring manager, don’t be afraid to mention it here; it’ll help them remember you and may even set you above the competition.
Closing: Your closing line should indicate that you look forward to hearing back from them. You should also create an opportunity for the interviewer to ask follow-up questions or any further information they may need.
Your name and signature: A letter isn’t complete without your name and signature. If you’re posting a printed letter, opt for a written signature. If you’re sending an email, simply type your name, followed by your contact information.
Tips to Follow
Don’t hesitate – just send it: “57% of candidates don’t send thank you notes after an interview - even though hiring managers expect it”, according to CareerBuilder. "The best timeframe to send a thank you email is within 24 hours after your interview," says Whitney Purcell, associate director of Career Development at Susquehanna University. Remember to send it during business hours – no 3 a.m. emails that make your schedule seem out of whack with the company’s working hours.
Compose (and personalise) thank-you letters to each person you met: if your interview was with three different members of staff, it’s important to address them all equally (not just the person you had initial contact with). The letters do not have to be completely different, you can personalise elements of each letter to connect with something personal like a shared interest. A good tip is to collect each person’s business card at the end of the interview so you can have their contact information for future reference. If you missed this step – don’t worry. You can add a line in at the end of your email or letter asking the reader to show the rest of the interview panel.
Don’t go overboard: although we said to mention personal connections; don’t ruin your chances by erring on the creepy side; like the “crazy cat lady” who decided to fax continuous pictures of cats to her hiring manager.
Keep it short and simple: by not rambling on too much about how you really want the job and feel you are suitable for the role. Keep the letter short and to the point without telling the hiring manager your entire life story.
We’ve put together two examples to give you an idea of what your personal letter should look like. The first example is for a follow up by email, and the second is if you prefer the postal method:
Things to Remember
Review Before You Send: Be sure to proofread your letter/email before you hit the send button or pop it in the postbox. You wouldn’t want it going to the hiring manager with typos.
Be genuine in your appreciation: If you had a good impression from the interviewer and the organisation make sure this comes across truthfully. Authentic communication will be highly valued, rather than using a boring thank-you letter template that you found on the web. If you made a real connection with the hiring manager, this is your chance to shine and use that when forming your letter. The key is to get the balance right and not go overboard with praise.
A letter and an email are both acceptable: According to the Harvard Business Review, “handwritten notes are unusual, but they can be effective when sent in conjunction with an emailed thank you.” A handwritten thank you involves selecting stationary, paying for stamps and walking to the postbox, rather than just pressing a button; this shows the value that you have for the opportunity and company.
Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes: the best place to start when writing a thank you note is to put yourself in the mindset of the hiring manager. Think about whether they enjoyed the conversation, if you both made a connection and if the interview style was friendly or if it was strictly business. This will help you set the tone of your letter and will guide you on what to write.
There you have it; you are now one step closer to securing the position you’ve been dreaming of. You can now go and relax for a while!
Have you ever written a winning thank you follow up letter and would like to share your example with the rest of us? Let us know in the comment section below…