Saying “thanks” isn’t the best way to follow-up after your job interview
Most job seekers know that it’s customary to write a thank you note as your interview follow-up, but aren’t sure what to say beyond, “thank you for your time,” but that’s not the only message you want to convey.
The best way to follow-up is to write an email that helps you stand out from the sea of other well-qualified candidates, and you want to send your follow-up within a day of the interview so that you stay top of mind with the person or people with whom you interviewed.
However, many people think that it’s ok to merely send a short email thanking the person for their time and saying how great it was to meet them. And they let it go at that. That’s why some resume writers (often the same ones who think it’s acceptable to write you “a” cover letter that you’ll send everybody) also think it’s acceptable to pre-write the interview follow up email. But that’s self-defeating.
Just as you should never write a cover letter in advance – because it needs to be customized precisely for each position you apply to – you can’t have a pre-written follow up after the interview email. That’s because until you’ve actually participated in the interview, you don’t know how the conversation will go, and you won’t know which points made during the conversation bear repeating. And if you don’t feel that you explained yourself during the interview regarding an important point as well as you could have, you need to use the follow up email to clarify.
These are the 4 best ways to follow-up after your job interview
- Write your follow up within a day of your interview what are you waiting for? Aim for top of mind presence
- Reference a good point that you had made you sounded really smart when you brought up X, so bring up X again, and tie it into the reason the company should hire you
- Clarify anything you didn’t feel came across well don’t apologize or make excuses, unless you committed a gaffe; just reiterate your comment in less ambiguous language
- End with a friendly comment that references your personal connection with the interviewer
Here’s an example of great interview follow-up:
Thank you for spending time with me yesterday to discuss the digital marketing role at ABC. Clearly, I am very interested not only in the position, but in aligning my work with a company whose mission and values I share.
You had mentioned that paid social is a particular challenge for ABC, and I had mentioned that I had significant success running paid social at my current job. I did some checking, and can confirm that paid social brought in $1.3M in revenue for the first 3 quarters of this year, so I’m confident I can exceed that benchmark given ABC’s larger market share.
I do want to clarify one point – you had asked what attracted me to the position of director, and I’d like to make it clear that title has little or no bearing on my interest; it’s the challenge and opportunity that have me excited.
I look forward to meeting with you again, and hopefully then neither of us will have to battle torrential rain on our commute!
Sincerely, (your name)
See why you should never pre-write your interview follow-up? It’s better strategy to leverage the unique vibe of the interview and take some control over what did or didn’t go well. You’re not sending a follow up merely to be polite; you’re reinforcing the case you made for your candidacy.
Related: Check out this article where I’m quoted on interview prep.
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