You walk out of your in-person interview knowing you aced it. You breathe a sigh of relief—you connected with the interviewer and found the perfect place to make the next career move. It finally feels like all your hard work job searching over the past few months has paid off.
But don’t get ahead of yourself. Many managers believe the follow-up thank-you note can be just as indicative of a person’s candidacy as their resume (for better or worse—this is a hotly debated issue).
A thank-you note is important for several reasons. First, it shows that you’re interested in the job and keeps your candidacy top of mind for the interviewer. Second, it extends the conversation outside the interview so that it’s easy for the interviewer to respond. Finally, a thank-you note shows that you’re considerate, organized, and proactive—all qualities people like to see in a colleague. It helps to make the hiring process more human.
The following guide will help you compose a thank-you note that will position your candidacy in the best possible light.
The Post-Interview Follow-Up
When should you send a thank-you note?
The best time to send a follow-up note is within 24 hours after the interview; however, make sure it’s during normal business hours. If you’re sending the email after midnight, but the office closes at 6 p.m., it looks like your schedule doesn’t align with the company’s, which may end up hurting your chances of being considered further.
What’s better: a handwritten note or email?
Handwritten thank-you notes were the norm years ago, but it’s better to send an email today. Handwritten notes have a delay, and job positions open and close quickly. While your note is in the mail, the hiring manager could already be offering the job to another candidate.
It’s also easy for a handwritten note to get lost in the shuffle—it could get lost in the mail or stuck in a pile of envelopes that aren’t opened for weeks. It might not even reach the interviewer.
Furthermore, many hiring managers think handwritten notes feel antiquated—especially if they work in a digital space.
If you email your note, you can send it the day of the meeting, when you’re still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. There’s also a higher chance of the interviewer responding to your email and continuing the conversation, especially if you have any further questions.
Get ready for the offer stage with negotiation tips.
3 Tips to Create the Perfect Thank-You Note
While a thank-you email doesn’t need to be as lengthy as a cover letter, it should stand out in an inbox full of similar messages. It needs to focus on the best parts of the conversation with the hiring manager and remind them why you’re the best person for the role.
1. Be authentic.
Don’t just copy and paste the same thank-you email after every interview. If it doesn’t feel genuine or unique, managers will notice it. Follow up on a conversation about the role with some ideas or strategy plans, or include something personal that you discussed, such as the latest podcast you listened to or a lunch spot in the area. Mention something that you enjoyed speaking about during the interview to help the hiring manager remember you.
2. Personalize it.
If you interviewed with a few different people for the position, make sure each email sounds slightly different. They may compare notes and won’t be as impressed with you if they see you sent the same template to each person.
If you spoke with a recruiter before the in-person interview, it’s polite to also send a follow-up email to them to say thanks for the connection.
3. Stay professional.
Don’t rush through writing the email. You could end up with grammatical errors or typos; take a moment to proofread your work and ensure you’re sending it to the right person. You also want to respect the person’s time, so keep the message brief and easy to read.
It’s a nice touch to include a personal anecdote if you engaged in some small talk before the meeting, but you don’t want to sound too casual in your correspondence. This note should still be treated like any other form of professional communication.
Progressing to the Offer Stage
The follow-up email after an interview can be incredibly powerful in the interviewer’s decision. By taking the time to craft an engaging, personalized thank-you note, you’re one step closer to receiving a job offer.
Prepare for the final interview, overhaul your resume, or rehearse salary negotiations one-on-one with a career coach.