Are post-interview thank-you notes still a thing?

In a world where you can search and apply for jobs, build your resume and even interview for jobs from the palm of your hand, something as mundane and low-tech as sending a post-interview thank-you note may seem downright antiquated.

In addition to its relevance, you might also question a thank-you note’s purpose. After all, if you’re the best candidate for the job, you should get an offer no matter what, right? While it’s true that even the most well-crafted thank-you note won’t make up for the fact that you lack a key skill needed for the job, it’s worth noting that most recruiters and hiring managers still expect a thank-you note from candidates. Not only that, but receiving one can also affect their decision-making process about a candidate.

So considering the fact that 57 percent of job candidates don’t send thank-you notes, taking that extra step can set you apart considerably in the eyes of hiring managers. All things being equal, if it were to come down to you and one other candidate, sending a thank-you note could give you the edge you need to win the job.

When it comes to sending thank-you notes, however, you need to go about it the right way in order to make sure it counts. Use the following tips to craft a thank-you note interviewers will be grateful for.

Do’s and don’ts for sending thank-you notes

Don’t wait. Send your thank-you notes out ASAP, at least within 24 hours. These days, it’s perfectly acceptable to send an email – especially if the company is looking to hire someone quickly.

Do go beyond saying “thank you.” Use your note as an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the role and why you’d be a great fit, as well as add something you didn’t get a chance to say during the interview. You may even consider including a link to your online portfolio or professional social media pages.

Don’t write a novel. Your thank-you note doesn’t need to be any longer than a few sentences. In fact, the shorter it is, the more likely the recipient will be to read it.

Do be sincere. One of the worst mistakes you can make with a thank-you note is sending a generic note that lacks any genuine gratitude or sincerity. Give a personal touch to your note by mentioning something you learned during the interview or really enjoyed discussing. By that same token…

Don’t send a group email. If you interviewed with multiple people, email each of them individually, with a customized message. It’s likely they will compare notes, and if they discover that you simply copied and pasted the same message for each person, it could come across as lazy and impersonal.

Don’t overthink it. A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science found that people often overestimate how harshly the literal elements of their thank-you note will be judged. While you do want to proofread your note to for spelling and grammatical errors, remember that it’s just a thank-you note – not the “State of the Union” address.

Your thank-you note may be your last chance to leave a positive, lasting impression on the hiring manager. At worst, it’s five minutes of your life you’ll never get back. At best, it could be that extra bit of effort that sets you apart from the rest of the candidates.

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