Follow-up after an interview is a MUST. Whether you think the interview went well or not—or even if you don’t want the job after having the interview—some additional communication from you is required as a way to support your professional reputation.
Even if your experience was terrible—you didn’t like the interviewer, the company, pretty much everything went badly—you should still send a thank you note. Recruiters move around frequently and have long memories for candidates. You might not have wanted the job for which you just interviewed, but that recruiter might be in charge of hiring for your dream job at another company three years from now. Always be professional!
Some version of a thank you note is required from you and should be sent within 24 hours of your interview. You have four goals with your thank you note.
- Thank them for their time
- Acknowledge something specific that is new or interesting that you learned during the interview (this shows you were paying attention and that this isn’t a form letter); if appropriate tie it to an experience from your resume/background.
- Inform them of your status (reiterate interest or remove yourself from consideration)
- Offer them help or additional information
Timing is the most important thing. Get it to them within 24 hours. It is acceptable to send it by email which is both efficient and easy. An email version would be especially helpful if you know they expect to make a decision within the next few hours or days. If you have some extra time, a handwritten note sent by postal mail (or a formal, typed letter if your handwriting is not very good) demonstrates a little extra effort.
For handwritten notes, a great trick is to pre-address and stamp the envelope and then stop immediately after the interview (at a coffee shop, in your car) and write the note itself. As soon as you are done, drop it in the mail. In most cases the recipient will get it the next day!
So, what should you say?
First, the most common scenario. You had the interview and want the job.
Something like this would be appropriate :
Notice, this is formatted as a formal business letter. You should follow this structure if you are sending the note as a physical copy through the mail. You should mirror this look even for an emailed note, although you wouldn’t need the header portion with your contact information or the business information before “Dear Ms. Schmoe” for the email version.
Remember, for formal business writing always address the recipient by their formal prefix or title (Dr., Mr., Ms., Senator, President) rather than by their first name. While at this point you will have met them in person and they may have given you permission to refer to them by their first name you should remain formal in the letter, which may get passed around to others within the organization.
To withdraw yourself from consideration
Second, you had the interview but, after learning more it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you. You should send a note thanking them for the interview, but withdrawing your name from consideration:
After a Rejection
Third, you had the interview and send the standard thank you note. A few days later you are informed you did not get the position. You should send another thank you note. This presents you as a highly professional person who understands the hiring process and will absolutely help you stand out with these recruiters in the future if they have a new opportunity (or if you cross paths in the future at another organization):
After your thank you notes have been sent, give the employer some time before any additional follow up actions. In some cases it might take employers several weeks to get through first-round interviews with a group of candidates. Just because you haven’t heard back yet doesn’t mean you have been rejected, so be patient.
When you left the interview you should have asked for an expected timeline. If they gave you one, respect it. If they said two weeks, wait two weeks before additional follow-up. If you did not receive any indication about their timeline for hiring, allow one week after your thank you note before additional contact.