Job interview dos and don’ts: The thank-you note

Recent grad? Changing careers? It might be a good time to refresh on sending thank-you notes. Here are five pointers.


As I become more involved in the hiring process in my office, I constantly look for ways to distinguish candidates. Separating the great candidates from the good ones is easy; separating the great ones from each other can be more difficult.

A thank-you note is an opportunity to keep yourself top of mind in a competitive field. Whether you’re a new graduate or simply changing careers, it might not hurt to go back to the basics. Here are some pointers:

Don’t: Show off your chicken scratch. If your penmanship looks like it wouldn’t pass third-grade standards (you know who you are), consider a thoughtful thank-you email instead. A poorly written thank-you will hurt you more than help.

Don’t: Mess up the name of the hiring manager or interviewer. If the interviewer introduces herself as Jane, do not call her Dr. Smith. Similarly, avoid shortening the person’s name unless he or she does it first. I must look confused every time someone calls me Andy, but for good reason—it’s not my name.

Do: Be prompt. Following up within two days is typically an appropriate time frame, but be wary of following up too soon. A follow-up email minutes after the interview demonstrates that the candidate may not have given the message much thought.

Do: Bring the reader’s attention back to a specific point from your interview. Above all, a thank-you note should help the interviewer remember who you are. Reference a specific point in the interview to personalize your follow-up and help the interviewer remember you.

Do: Reiterate your interest for the position. Don’t be afraid to show excitement. Your interviewers could be viewing you as a future coworker, so reinforce your desire for the company and for the position.

Andrew Cross is a Chicago-based public relations professional with Walker Sands Communications and a contributing writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @Andrew_R_Cross.

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