The power of the best thank-you note

by Jill Jitima
Vice President at Charles Aris Inc.

A common misconception these days is that thank-you notes are overrated.

In my experience as an executive search consultant, this could not be further from the truth. I once had a client who was on the fence about a candidate and could not decide whether to make him an offer. The candidate sent the hiring authority a very thoughtful thank-you email. This little gesture actually pushed my client over the edge to extend that candidate an offer. The client was impressed that the candidate took time to write each interviewer a personalized thank-you email that included specific things mentioned during the interview which resonated with him.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true: I have seen a client who was really excited about a candidate but passed on that person because she did not take the time to send an appreciative email.

The resulting question is clear: What constitutes a thoughtful thank-you note?

The first thing is that each person you speak with during the interview process, from the C-Suite to Talent Acquisition, should receive an individualized thank-you email. You also need to send the email as quickly as possible. I always suggest sending it the same day, within a few hours of hanging up on the phone or leaving an on-site interview. The idea is to express your gratitude to all interviewers before they get together and debrief with one another.

The second is to make it personal. Remember that thank-you notes are often shared among interview panelists, so do not make the mistake of copying and pasting the same generic email and then sending it to multiple interviewers. I suggest taking note of something meaningful each interviewer says during that particular interview with you, and then citing those moments in your personalized thank-you notes. For example, I was recently interviewing an internal candidate for Charles Aris Inc. and, two hours after the interview, I received a two-paragraph thank-you email. The candidate specifically referenced the discussion we had around career path and tied that into why he was now even more excited about the opportunity … which brings me to my last point:

Please express interest!

If you leave the interview and you are really interested in the role, TELL THEM! People want to hire people who are excited to work with them. Do not hesitate to come right out and let the client know that you are excited to continue in the interview process. Don’t make the mistake of playing hard to get, as we’ve never found that to be an effective strategy.

The thank-you note is something that can easily be overlooked, but the power of it can be significant. If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll improve your odds of receiving offers. Good luck!