The Perfect Post-Interview Thank-You
You’ve just wrapped up an interview, and you’re wondering if you need to send a thank-you card or email to your interviewee – the answer, YES!
Here’s Jane’s HR perspective on post-interview thank-you best practice and what to expect in the days and weeks post your interview.
After your interview send an email to say thanks, it’s a nice timely response, but with one down-side – it can get lost in a busy inbox. If you know the job turn around will be short, email is the way to go. Alternatively, you might choose to stand out from the crowd and send the panel a thank you card (an actual physical piece of paper). It is novel, personal and likely to be noticed. Either way you choose to go, if you really want the job, make sure you say thanks!
Tips for your post-interview thank-you
- Tip #1. Send the card or email within a day of the interview. Strike while your face and skills are fresh in the employer’s mind.
- Tip #2. Proofread your thank-you note. Prepare a draft and double check to ensure all the spelling and grammar is correct (if attention to detail is a key requirement for the role, you don’t want this card to have the opposite effect!!!). Sending a thank-you can influence or even change an interviewer’s first impression of you, so the last thing you want to do is fire off a message that has not been thoroughly checked.
- Tip #3. Address it to the right people! Did you interview with more than one person? Address it to all the panel or even send a unique thank-you email to each of them using details from the common ground you covered or a specific conversation you had with them. Make it personal. If you do send a thank-you email to only one interviewer, simply mention that you didn’t get contact information for their colleague and ask them too please pass along your message of gratitude.
- Tip #4. Keep the message brief, polite and professional. It’s not time to reiterate all your skills, regurgitate your CV or add something new to the mix. It’s just a small show of your initiative, attention to details, and to show that you REALLY want the job!
- Tip #5. Incorporate something about the role that really appealed to you and detail how you may make a unique contribution (however, I’d suggest keeping this concise).
- Tip #6. Leave a great impression. Sending a thank-you won’t necessarily guarantee you the role but will leave a good impression with the organisation and interviewers, and you never know what openings are around the corner. As you go through the process, it may also have the added benefit of helping you to crystallise whether or not you actually still want the job.
- Tip #7. Didn’t get the job? It’s a great opportunity to ask for feedback and tips. Add something simple like “If you have any feedback or tips from this interview that you think would benefit me, I’d be really grateful to discuss…”
How to structure your thank-you
Here are the different sections and items that you should be sure to include:
- A greeting that matches the formality of the interview (first name versus title and last name)
- A specific reference to what exactly you’re thanking your interviewer for (coffee, details about the organisation, great conversation, all of their insightful questions and thoughtful answers, etc.)
- Reiterate (while keeping it concise) what you like about the organisation and/or the position, and why you think this role is a great fit for you.
Then the wait begins…
When you attend an interview, the interviewers should give you some idea of the timeframe in which you can expect to hear from them, whether you are successful in obtaining the role or not.
A good HR practitioner should try to maintain contact in order to manage your expectations around timeframes as things can sometimes be outside of their control. You can generally expect to hear back within a week or two (although I have heard of people having to hang on for three months before a decision was made – yes this was a not-for-profit!).
Sometimes the process can be protracted, particularly in larger organisations as they may have to get sign off from various people (and possibly donor approval if funding is provided for the position or project from an external source).
If you haven’t received any feedback within a couple of weeks, you could make contact with the organisation to see what progress has been made. It may be that any reference checks may be taking longer than anticipated, for a variety of reasons. For instance, international roles where referees are in different time zones or remote locations means it can sometimes be tricky to make contact.
The panel may also be trying to reach an agreement between candidates if they have differing views on the preferred applicant.
Interviewers may also be waiting for the desired candidate to accept an offer before letting others know they were unsuccessful in obtaining the role (particularly if it was close between two of the candidates). At this stage, you may also be called back for a for a second interview or work-based tests.
Best of wishes for your next interview, and make sure you say thanks!
Do you send post-interview thank-you emails? Have extra words of wisdom or questions? Share them below!
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