A few things are helpful for a successful job interview: a firm handshake, a winning smile, confidence, and poise. There is also one facet that is often forgotten but just as important for after the interview is over: A Thank You email. While it is a small thing, it can often mean the difference between making a lasting impression that lands you a job or losing the opportunity forever. To make sure your Thank You email lands you in the winners circle, here’s the do’s and don’ts of writing one.

ABC: Always Be Correct

Do:

  • Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
  • Spell your interviewer’s name correctly

Just like your cover letter and resume, this should reflect a professional, courteous tone and show that you know what you are doing. No matter what the job entails, an employer wants to know that you take everything you do seriously. By crafting an intelligent letter that shows you know how to spell and where to put a period says that you respect them, their company, and the job.

Don’t:

  • Write casually
  • Use slang, colloquialisms, or any obscenities
  • Address the letter “To Whom it May Concern”

Even if you connected instantly with the person who interviewed you and the two of you just shot the breeze like old chums or drinking buddies, your Thank You email should not act like they are your pal. This is still a person who is to be respected. A letter that is too casual says you aren’t taking the job seriously. Even worse, if you behave as if you have no idea who they are their opinion of you will rapidly cool.

Get Personal

Do:

  • Mention a point of the interview that you enjoyed.
  • Use the interviewer’s name and title.

A person likes to feel that they made an impression. As such, they want to know what you thought after you have had time to ruminate on the interview. While you don’t want to be overly familiar, you do want to make sure they recall who you are and show them you went above and beyond in writing a personal message to them.

Don’t:

  • Be too cold.
  • Give them advice or complaints.
  • Give them a form email.

While you should be telling them that you enjoyed meeting with them and showing that you have reflected on the company and how you might better fit into the job, don’t give any hint that you didn’t like them, the company, or the position. You want no negative comments. You want to help mold their sense of you by presenting yourself as positive, happy, and a good listener. Stay professional, but don’t be distant or icy.

Be Professional

Do:

  • Keep it brief.
  • Make your tone mature.
  • Express your enthusiasm.

Remember first and foremost that this person is busy. You are writing to thank them for their time, not take up more of it. This should read like professional correspondence that makes your point and then signs off. Be excited but don’t gush or wax rhapsodic about how much you love their company. It sounds insincere.

Don’t:

  • Ramble.
  • Disclose too much about yourself.
  • Lie.

You should be highlighting the best points of the interview but don’t slather the letter in effusive kindness. Your emotional content should be limited to being pleased to have met them, glad for the opportunity, and hope to hear from them in the future. They don’t need your life story, they don’t want to hear a tale you think is prevalent, and they don’t want to be buttered up. Simple, genial, and straightforward is all that is needed.

Put the Ball in Their Court

Do:

  • Include a call to action on their part.
  • Restate your interest in the job.
  • Ensure they have your contact information.

While you are thanking them, part of the point of a Thank You email is to make it clear that action on their part is now required. You should be assertive, though not aggressive, in saying you look forward to speaking with them in the future or asking them to contact you when they have reached a decision. Include your phone number and email address so there is no reason they could possibly have for not reaching you.

Don’t:

  • Just say “Thank you.”
  • Close the matter.

A Thank You email should not be conclusive. You want them to feel as if it is their move. If you just end your letter with “Thank you for your time” you make the matter sound closed. Therefore they can feel good as they throw your letter away. Leave the end as open as possible with a tone that anticipates a reply from them.

Thank Everyone

Do:

  • Thank anyone who interviewed with you.
  • Thank people even if they rejected you.

If you have multiple interviews with various people within a company, send a “Thank You” email to all of them. A mistake that many applicants make is to only thank the top boss or the highest ranking person in the office who spoke with them. This shows you aren’t a team player. Also, showing courtesy to someone – even if they turned you down at the end of the interview – shows them you can take a hit without losing class. It will keep you in their mind for future positions or other people they know who might need your skills.

Don’t

  • Leave anyone out.

When it comes to giving thanks, no one should be forgotten. If you have the chance to thank the secretary who took you into the meeting, do it. People in a company who seem small often wield immense power and influence. If you can make them remember you, like you, and consider you an enjoyable person, your resume is much less likely to be forgotten.

Even if things didn’t go well, you can always recover from a bad job interview with a great Thank You email.

Featured photo credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans via upload.wikimedia.org

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