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Thanking them for the interview: Do’s and don’ts

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Question: "I'm a little uncertain about job interview etiquette—more specifically, what comes afterward. How long do I wait to send a thank-you email, and is that a good time to elaborate at length on how I feel about the job, or even try to correct some impression I may have accidentally given? How should I close such an email, and is it even necessary to send one if I'm no longer interested in being hired?" - Kenny, unemployed admin

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri November 17, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Definitely send a thank-you note or letter the same day. And be sure there are no errors in it! After I started working here, I was told that I was one of the “final two” out of hundreds who applied for my job, and I got it because my thank-you letter was error-free, and the other candidate’s letter wasn’t. It pays to proofread!! And 23-1/2 years later, I’m still here!

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Kristin Newkirk November 4, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Sending the letter out immediately is the best bet. I try to pick up one topic from the interview some what a connection or say topic. If you notice your interviewers each have different style so speaking something to each of the personally sparks. They all talk meet again to go over the candidates and they all will be able to comment more regarding you for the extra. Try to keep the closing such as I look forward to hearing back from you. If you have any questions blah blah… AND on …say in 1 week or so goes (Depends how urgent the job is and their interview line up) and send an email off to your contact person/recruiter. That gets your name in again.

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Deb November 3, 2016 at 5:13 pm

I think you always send a thank you card or note – not an email – the next day. The note’s purpose is to thank them for the time they spent with you and for sharing information about the opportunity at their business. If you are interested in the position, I would express the desire to talk further with them. If you are not interested, just thank them. Of course, we never want to burn bridges. I know there are many people out there who interviewed for one position but were offered a different position. Good luck in your search.

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Paula November 3, 2016 at 4:44 pm

First of all, I send an actual card, not an email. It takes more thought and is appreciated. Second, send it immediately. Third, I wouldn’t use a thank you as anything more than to thank them for their time and consideration of you as a potential new team member. Trying to clear up any mis-impressions is probably going to create more. They don’t want to read a full length letter; they want to know you appreciated the time they took to meet you. If they called you in, you have already passed through a gate or two, so let that stand. And if you feel that you created a less than stellar impression, offer to come back and meet again to answer any questions they still have.

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Kate November 3, 2016 at 4:42 pm

I would send a thank you card via snail mail instead; too much gets “lost” in email. Ask for a business card when you leave. When you get to your car, write it up immediately. You don’t have to go into great detail, simply thanking them for their time is good and you look forward to hearing back. Drop it off at the post on your way home. They will get it the next day. I don’t care what anyone says in this digital age, manners matter, and an actual card goes a LONG way (especially if it comes down to you and another candidate). Good Luck!

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Lynn November 3, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Ok, I’m old school. I would ask before the end of the interview whether an email thank you or a hand written one is preferred. And make sure you send the right one.
And that note should be sent immediately after the interview, no later than that evening.
I agree with Cheri, that you do NOT want to tell them that you don’t want the position. That may sour them on you. If they call requesting another interview or an offer, then you can discuss it with them. They may know of another company that’s looking for someone, too, and could put you in contact.

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Cheri November 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm

ALWAYS send a follow-up/thank-you — and don’t wait more than a day. This shows the interviewer(s) that you appreciate his/her time, that you follow-up in a timely manner, reminds him/her about your particular qualifications for the position which helps them remember you, and that you are interested and want to move to the next step in the interview process — even if you aren’t. You never know when your path may cross again with any interviewer. Who knows – another position may open up in the future, and they may remember you and ask you to come back! Just Google “sample interview thank-you letters” and you’ll see some great examples to use as a basis for your own. You’ll see the key elements needed for a good follow-up letter — be sure to include them and don’t make it too long or wordy. In today’s world, an e-mail seems to be more common than a letter sent via snail mail, but regardless, it is STILL a key step in the interview process and should not be overlooked or underestimated. I have been on interview teams, and I have not hired candidates as a result of no follow-up/thank you letter.

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TERESA November 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm

You should definitely send a thank you note and send it immediately even if you don’t want to be hired… It’s always a good idea to leave a good impression. Ending the thank you note with, “Kind Regards”, is sufficient… I would not try to give excuses for something you “thought” might have gone wrong in the interview… The interviewer’s perception is different than yours. Don’t assume anything went wrong, but you can add that you are available for any questions or concerns which you they may have and “Looking forward to hearing from you soon.” Good luck and remember – they are looking for someone just as much as you are looking for a job… They need to fill a position… You’re not the only one being interviewed! :)

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Vicki November 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

Speaking as a long-time administrative person, currently working in Human Resources doing more recruitment responsibilities, I would say that you would want to send your thank you as soon as you can after completing the interview. This keeps your name and face fresh in the mind of the interviewer. You can certainly let the interviewer know if you have any questions or want to express any clarification that you feel may be necessary, but you want to keep it brief. And, yes, I would say that if you have decided that you are no longer interested in the position, the thank you step is a perfect time to let them know that. They will appreciate your being forthcoming and may even want to contact you to find out if they could change your mind. Good luck!

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