Sending thank you notes after interviews

This is a guest blog post by Patti McLaughlin.

Should you send a thank-you note after an interview? YES!!

Strong and conflicting opinions abound with respect to post interview thank-you notes. Many people feel the notes are unnecessary and potentially harmful. A poorly-written or error-riddled note could certainly cost you an opportunity. Given this information, should you write them—yes, you should.

Aside from the fact that it is just common courtesy to thank people for their time, a well written thank-you note adds to the positive impression formed by the interviewer, and gives you an opportunity to state what you liked about your time with the firm or the interviewer.

You should send your thank-you note promptly—within 1-2 business days of your interview. You should write an individual, personalized note to each person who interviewed you, the recruiting coordinator, and any other staff member who helped facilitate your interview. Do not send the same note to everyone.

Generally, email thank you notes are perfectly acceptable. There are some exceptions like judges and firms in the Deep South. If you have any questions about whether you should send a hand-written note, speak to a CDO counselor.

The most important thing to remember about your thank-you note is that it must be error-free. Triple check it before sending it or better yet, have someone else proofread it for you. We have definitely seen students lose opportunities because of mistakes in the thank you note: misspellings or stating the wrong firm name, for example.

The note should be short. A few sentences are sufficient for this purpose. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, mention something you discussed during your interview, restate your interest, and close. Remembering details will show your interviewer that you have true interest in the firm. You might mention the interviewer’s practice area, a current case, or a shared interest you discussed during the interview. Your interviewer might have seen many candidates so your thank-you note is one more opportunity to make yourself stand out.

You want to show your potential employer that you have excellent attention to detail, you understand the value of other people’s time, you have real interest in this specific employer, and you can write well. You also want to show them that you understand the importance of good manners.  If you don’t understand the etiquette that demands you to thank someone for his or her time, what other rules of etiquette are going to escape you? What other details will you gloss over because you don’t think them worth your time?

Bottom line—if you don’t send a thank-you note, you are telling all your interviewers they were not worth the 15 minutes it would take to write them an email. Leaving this impression with a potential employer is a big risk!

For help with thank you notes, reach out to a CDO counselor.

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