Should you send a post interview follow up letter after you’ve just completed a job interview – especially if you thought it went well (or maybe not)? Technically I would say the job interview isn’t over yet – there is follow up needed after the interview. The short answer is yes – always send a follow up email – ideally within 24 hours..
While you think the job interview may not have been ideal, at the end of the day you really don’t know what the hiring manager or interview team thought of you. Yes, there are signs and body language, and did the interview end early, was it awkward, etc. Or you may think you aced the interview for the job. In any case, you should always send a thank you letter following the interview.
You’re probably getting a bit sick of letters unless you followed my advice on “How to Write a Cover Letter” right? If you followed what I wrote then you should be in good shape.
So how long should you wait to send the post interview letter? Well, this isn’t like dating, where you carefully calculate the number of hours or days before you call somebody after the first date! You should try and send a follow up letter the same day of the interview, or worst case the next morning. You have no idea how many candidates were interviewed for the job you want, so strike while you are still fresh in their mind. Sometimes, not always, a well written interview letter can influence the decision to hire you if you are on the line with the team. So pay attention to some of the guidance in this post.
The Right Approach
There is a right and wrong way to send a follow up email. You have to be careful how you gather contact information and names, what you say in the email, and not be too long or too short. Let’s look closer at the proper way to do this – and follow a systematic approach to making this work for you.
Sending the Interview Follow Up Letter
So now that you know you should send a follow up, do you ask for business cards after interviewing with each person? I would strongly recommend against it. It is obvious to anyone who has experience interviewing candidates what you are doing, and will look very contrived and premeditated. Instead, make sure you write down the names of everyone you interview with in your notebook (you did bring a notebook to take notes right?), or better yet ask up front when you’re being scheduled to get a copy of the schedule and everyone you will be talking to. 9 times out of 10 HR will be happy to give you a copy of the interview schedule they had to prepare for the internal team anyway, and it will have the names of everyone on there. Just be alert if people get swapped out during the day due to other pressing emergencies.
So you got home, are ready to write your job interview thank you letter, and you have a list of names. Next up is the following:
- Go on linkedin and search for each name along with the company name to find their title.
- You should already have an email from your human resources contact – this is invaluable, as it shows you the format of their company email.
- Compose a draft email thanking the individual for the interview, and keep it short – 2 paragraphs maximum.
- You will then personalize this interview follow up note by mentioning a couple of items that you remember specific to speaking to that person.
- Once you do that, you email each person individually (never do a bulk email) with their slightly personalized thank you letter, using the email format you gleaned from the HR email.
Examples of Post Interview Emails
First – never send a follow up letter after an interview by postal mail. Nobody will read it, and honestly by the time people get it the decision will have been long over. So your ability to influence with your letter is gone. Always send post interview letters by email.
So what are some really good examples of follow up letters you should use? There are numerous sites on the web showing exact examples, but honestly there is a basic flow to the letter that would sound better written in your own words. So rather than point you to tons of example thank you letters, I will give you may template for a follow up email:
- First, address the interview follow up letter to the individual with their title highlighted near the top
- Open the communication with “Dear Mr.” or “Dear Ms.” Depending on gender of course
- The first paragraph should thank them for taking the time to speak with you, highlight your excitement about the position and the company, and re-iterate your ability to make a significant contribution in this role
- The second paragraph should mention a couple of specific items you talked to that person about during the interview – e.g. “I really appreciated you taking the time to discuss the operational processes in place for handling difficult customers”. Use a real example of something that person spoke to you about that was different than what others discussed. This shows you were listening to them.
- The last paragraph should express your appreciation for being considered for this role, and that you are looking forward to next steps, and for her/him to contact you directly if they have any follow up questions they didn’t get to during the interview regarding your qualifications or background.
- End the note with your full name, and contact information under your name
Now on to some real examples of post interview follow up letters and my criticism of them:
- Here is one from Monster.com. In my opinion this interview follow up letter and email is too heavy handed, and too pushy. It also comes across as arrogant.
- This one from Business Insider is a bit better, but my issue here is with the reference to starting their career in their hometown. Who cares? Don’t ever point out the benefits to YOU of a position – the company is only interested in what you will be doing for them. Trust me.
- I think these are pretty bad. Too conversational, a bit assuming, and some of the suggested language comes across as arrogant. Would not follow these…
Honestly I had to stop. I had every intention of showing you some more examples you can find online, but so many of these are bad I couldn’t take it any longer! Just please don’t come across as desperate, arrogant, or needy. Have someone else read your draft if you think you might be hitting any of these negative points.
Because the post interview follow up letter should be reflective of the position and what you discussed, as well as a bit about the company, it is impossible to find an interview follow up template that you can just cut and paste. Follow my general formal in the above bullet list, keep it pretty short, don’t mention personal items, or how great you are for the role, that you walk on water, or what the job means to you relative to benefits, location, etc. Simply thank them for their time, ensure they know you’re very interested in the role after the discussions, mention your appreciation for them sharing information about 1-2 specific items regarding the company or the role, and then close by looking forward to next steps [don’t “ask” about next steps – comes across as too needy].
Hopefully this helps. In the near future I may post some real examples of post interview follow up letters, but again it is hard given they should be tailored to the role, company, and discussions that occurred. In the meantime I hope you found this information helpful as you take action after your job interview and get that follow up letter written and out to each person you spoke to!
Best of Luck!