tips for writing a strong interview follow-up email.

  • interviews
  • August 21, 2017

In today's fast-moving, increasingly digital and disruptive business environment, it's tempting to think of thank-you notes as old-fashioned, like calling cards left behind by "gentlemen visitors" in Jane Austen novels.

But that's a big mistake: The follow-up thank-you note after your initial phone interview is very much present in businesses today. And given that 12 percent of job applicants admit they rarely follow up after job interviews, according to a recent study by Randstad US, it's also an opportunity to help you stand out from the crowd.

Here's why thank-you emails after an interview are so important — as well as two templates you can use to craft your own dynamite thank-you notes and thank-you letters going forward.

time your interview follow-up email properly

You may have heard that comedy equals tragedy plus the passage of time, but don't let that formula guide your professional life — unless you're prepared to laugh at your own missed opportunities down the line. Your follow-up note needs to be timely: Don’t let more than one day pass before you hit send. And if you're able to send your follow-up email on the same day that you interview, even better.

Doing so makes it clear that you're on-the-ball and accountable at a moment when the interview is still fresh in the hiring manager's mind. Don't delay!

digital channels are the norm

Today, while a handwritten letter delivered via snail mail will certainly be appreciated, sending a thank-you email after an interview is now the norm. Just make sure you're using a professional-looking email address that incorporates your name, like john_smith@email.com, as opposed to something much more informal. And keep your subject line simple: "Thank you" or "Great chatting this afternoon" are perfectly fine.

personalize your email follow ups wherever possible

Your note should be addressed to the person or people who interviewed you, not "To Whom it May Concern." If you can’t remember, check the website, poke around on LinkedIn or ask your recruiter or point of contact at the organization.

more is less

Hiring managers have a lot on their plates, so do them a favor and keep your message short and to the point — four paragraphs should be a hard limit. Start by thanking them for their time and considering you for the job. Then, reiterate your interest in the position, and potentially mention something, however small, you learned in the interview. Keep the tone genuine, conversational and professional throughout.

subtly emphasize your qualifications

After the obligatory thank you, use your follow-up note to rehash why your background and experience qualify you for the role. The takeaway should be that you've gained first-hand perspective about the company and the role, and you're more convinced than ever that you're a good fit and capable of delivering value.

give them time

Once you send your thank-you note, the ball is in the other team's court. Give your prospective employer plenty of time — at least a week — to arrive at a decision. If you don't hear anything after week, however, it's acceptable to send another note. Be courteous but urgent, and try to get a sense of the projected timeline for the entire process. As you continue through the job searching process, we encourage you to keep in touch with your Randstad recruiter for additional updates.

templatize as much as possible

To make things even easier for you, here are two templates you can use when crafting your next post-interview follow-up email. There are basically two approaches to these emails: the short version and the longer one. Let's look at them in that order.

follow-up email example #1

Nine times out of 10, sending a short thank-you email based on the following template is going to be enough to get the job done. Together with a great interview, it'll just about guarantee that you leave a lasting, positive impression in the mind of the hiring manager. Here's how to check off all of the boxes, fast.

Subject line: Thank you for your time

Email body:

Hi [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me today. I really enjoyed learning more about the [Job title] role, and I came away from the conversation even more interested in the opportunity to join [Company Name]. So I'm eager to hear about next steps. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns in the meantime.

Thanks again,

[Your Name]

Most of the time, it's fine to write this kind of short follow-up email after an interview. Of course, every once in a while, you might want to leave an even stronger impression, in which case you should take advantage of...

follow-up email example #2

Sending a longer thank-you email is a great way to signal to a potential employer that you're very interested in joining the team. Because you can use it to sprinkle in specific details, what's more, it's also a chance for you to really cement your spot in the hiring manager's mind. For that reason, however, it takes a bit more effort on your end — and slightly more customization, as well. Just start with this template.

Subject line: Thank you for your time

Email body:

Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me today. It was a pleasure to meet you and learn more about the [Job title] role. In particular, I was excited to hear about [Initiative, Project or Business Challenge, e.g., "your financial reporting process"'], as that's an area where my strong background in [Area of Expertise] will allow me to make a difference right away.

Based on our conversation, other areas where I could contribute value at [Company Name] include:

  • [Skill Set, Area of Expertise or Challenge to Overcome]
  • [Skill Set, Area of Expertise or Challenge to Overcome]
  • [Skill Set, Area of Expertise or Challenge to Overcome]

For these reasons and more, I'm very interested in the opportunity to build my career and grow alongside with [Company Name]. So let me know if I can provide any additional information, as well as what I should expect in terms of next steps. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.

Thanks again,

[Your Name]

Done right, a longer-form follow-up email like this one can make all of the difference. Just remember that the above example is only a template, so you'll need to carefully modify it, plug in strategic details from your interview — and use it in a way that makes the most sense for the role that you're applying for.

takeaways

Master the art of the expertly crafted, personalized and timely post-interview thank-you note, and you'll be that much closer to landing the job of your dreams. Don't underestimate the power of this kind of messaging to sway a hiring manager, particularly when a choice has to be made between two equally compelling candidates. So take advantage of this polite — not to mention expected — form of communication, which, when done right, can ultimately help tip the scales in your favor.