The Post-Interview Thank-You Note


There essentially are three parts to the interview process. The initial work in getting the interview, the interview itself, and the post-interview process. I know very few career coaches who would say that post-interview follow-up isn’t necessary. But, the form such follow-up should take isn’t as universally agreed upon. Some believe it’s a final chance to make your case.  While that’s true in the broadest sense, it’s also a final chance to really blow it. Read on to learn how to make the post-interview process work for you!

The Aunt Minnie Thank-You Note
My close friend, David Landau, is one of DC’s top legal headhunters. David has pretty strong feelings about the post-interview follow-up. When I asked him for his comments, he said, “candidates must send a thank-you, but it should be what I call an ‘Aunt Minnie thank-you.’ Everyone has his/her equivalent of my Aunt Minnie. Every year, Aunt Minnie would send me a check for $5 for my birthday. Under threat of death from my parents, I’d send a thank-you note that read something like: “Dear Aunt Minnie: Thanks very much for the very generous birthday gift. I plan to use it for something good. I hope to see you soon. Love, David.”

As David further said, “get in and get out. . . quickly,” meaning, basically, “first, do no harm.” I agree with David. He shared an anecdote that illustrates the risks perfectly. He had a candidate that did so well during the interview process that the firm was already putting the necessary steps in motion to make him an offer. Then, the candidate sent folksy, jocular email thank-you notes that completely missed the mark. The firm decided against making an offer.  That being said, I believe that there is an opportunity to get in and get out quickly in a way that also adds value, by stating something specifically related the interview, as I discuss below.

Three Easy-To-Follow Thank-You Note Tips
So, where does that leave us? Here are some easy-to-follow steps to foolproof your thank-you note follow-up:

  • As noted above, send an “Aunt Minnie thank-you note.” Quick and to the point. When in doubt, leave it out. No need to joke or be too familiar. And, don’t try to correct something you think you did wrong during the interview. Chances are, you will only highlight your own uncertainty and lack of confidence.
  • Send everyone you met a separate thank-you. We recently had a candidate send a group thank-you. That’s very impersonal and, appears to be lacking in effort. The individual thank-you note also gives you a chance to write something personal, such as: “I specifically enjoyed our conversation about X.” By so doing, you will lift your concise email out of the realm of perfunctory and unremarkable. So, start with thank you, then hit the personal item, and finish by reiterating your interest. Done!
  • Send your follow-up soon after the interview. This presents a conundrum for those who still like to send personal, handwritten thank-you notes. We had a candidate who recently handled this perfectly, by sending a brief thank-you email that ended with something to the effect of, “handwritten thank-you notes will go in tonight’s mail, so this is simply to make sure you immediately know how grateful I am for the opportunity.”

If you’re in the market for a new job and want to be sure you aren’t your own undoing, get in touch, we can help!  Call 301-520-9511 or email