How to Write a Thank You Note
Learn what to say and how to say it when you want to send a thank you note.
Today’s article comes directly from new The Public Speaker fan Eric Linna who asked, “Any tips on after-the-interview thank you letters?”
How to Write Thank You Notes
Eric, first, thanks for listening to the show and thanks for your question. It always makes my day when someone posts a message on Facebook letting me know how I’ve helped them. Thanks for letting me know which episodes have been helping you with your interviewing process. (BTW: Have you considered buying my audiobook, The Public Speaker’s Guide to Ace Your Interview? <smile> I know, subtle, right?)
Anyway, I’m sincerely glad you posted to The Public Speaker Facebook page and are now part of my network. Oh and yes, I’ve got some quick and dirty tips for writing a thank you note.
Hey, did you notice? I just wrote you a thank-you note! I know, I know, you asked about an after the interview thank-you note, and I’ll talk about that too. But before I jump into what should be included, first I want to quickly talk about why it’s important to send thank you notes.
Why You Should Write Thank You Notes
Of course, the primary reason for sending a thank you note is share your gratitude. Appreciation and thankfulness are important in all relationships. A sincerely written thank you note can deepen both personal and professional relationships. Besides, it’s just plain mannerly to articulate your appreciation by writing a thank you note when someone has given you help, a gift, or time (like when interviewing).
Should You Write a Thank You Note After an Interview?
Specifically in the case of interviews, there are additional reasons to write the thank you note. Perhaps most importantly, a thank you note extends the interview by reinforcing who you are in the memory and minds of the people who interviewed you (don’t forget often there are many candidates and they do tend to blur together in the mind of an interviewer). It also gives you the opportunity to, again, explain why you are such a great fit for the position. Once you’ve had the opportunity to learn details about the company, the position, and the roles of your interviewers, you should be in a much better position to specifically explain to each one why he or she should endorse you as their top candidate.
Writing the thank you note also provides you an opportunity to express your interest in the position--if you want it of course. I know people who have been passed over for positions because it wasn’t clear from the interviewer’s perspective whether the candidate really wanted the job. So if you want it, you need to explicitly express your interest. While expressing your interest in the position, also express your enthusiasm for the chance to work for that particular company and for that particular hiring manager. Finally, a good thank you note allows you to demonstrate that you are detail oriented, organized, and good with follow up, which for some positions--such as sales or project management--might be an important skill needed to be successful in the position.
To be clear, I don’t think a well-written thank you note will win you the job; however, you should be aware that some people will not hire you if you don’t send a thank you note or if the thank you note is poorly written.
What Should You Say In a Thank You Note?
So why take the risk when it’s easy to write a thank you note when you follow my quick and dirty steps.
Step 1: Generally Thank the Person for the Kind Act
The first step should be obvious: greet the person and thank them for whatever it is that they did for you. Maybe they gave you helpful advice, maybe they gave you a gift, or maybe they spent time with you (like an interview). The idea is to explicitly recognize that what they gave you was something you appreciated. This part of the thank you is very general. For example,
I wanted to briefly thank you for the opportunity to meet with you on Tuesday.
or perhaps for a personal thank you note
I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the chocolate-covered strawberries that you sent over.
Step 2: Specifically Explain Why You Are Thankful
Step two is usually the most personal part of the note, and it should be unique for each note that you write. In this next sentence or two, you should get very specific. Tell the person why you are thankful. Share a detail you learned during the conversation, or perhaps three more general reasons why you’re thankful.
[Marty note continued…]
The fact that you and Joe share an office indicates the close working relationship that you two have built. I was also very impressed by your strong business acumen, your communication skills, and your professionalism.
[Susan note continued…]
That was just what I needed to lift my spirits. The girls especially enjoyed sharing them with me.
Step 3: Summarize Why They Should Choose You (After-the-Interview Only)
For an after-the-interview thank you note, there are two additional steps that aren’t included in a standard thank you. For interviews, you should use the thank you note as an opportunity to again summarize the primary reasons you think you should be hired. What are the key reason(s) that the interviewer would want YOU to have the job? Imagine you are the interviewer; what could someone say to impress you?. This section can be longer for the hiring manager or key influencers and shorter for thank you notes to others you interviewed with.
In my first example, Marty was a sales manager very focused on the strategic sales process. So here’s what I wrote,
As we discussed, I also strongly support following a strategic sales process that includes flexibility for creative approaches and consistent wins. I am confident that I can leverage my previous sales and pre-sales experience to creatively, effectively, and consistently work with your team to drive results.
Step 4: State Your Interest in the Position and the Company
[[AdMiddle]An important next step in the after-the-interview thank you, which is often overlooked, is to explicitly state your interest in the position and the company. Optionally you might also explicitly ask for what you want. For example,
After meeting you and some of the others on the sales team, I wasn’t surprised that Gartner formally recognized ABC Company’s ability to execute. I think that reflects directly on your abilities, and of course the entire team at ABC. I would like to be part of Joe’s team, and part of the larger sales organization. I hope that you were equally impressed with me and can give me a positive endorsement for the position.
Step 5: Show Appreciation for Being a Professional or Personal Connection
The final part of any thank you note (not just after the interview notes) is to show your appreciation to this person for being a part of your professional or personal life.
Regardless of the outcome, I’m glad we met and I wish you continued professional and personal success.
I know I don’t say it very often, but I am so very grateful that you are such a good friend to me.
So there you have it, Eric, quick and dirty steps to writing a thank you note. Good luck with the rest of your interviews and don’t forget to write and tell us how it went. Maybe you’ll write me a thank you note when you land the job you want! In fact, Eric, I'm sending you a copy of my ebook, Ace Your Interview.
This is The Public Speaker, Lisa B. Marshall. Passionate about communication, your success is my business.
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