January 13, 2015

How You Can Improve Your Interview Success Rate With a Thank-You Letter

YesIn this age of bleeding-edge, social media-based job-search techniques, it can be easy to overlook some of the more traditional strategies. That’s a shame, because these techniques are often very effective, even if they do seem unfashionable.

The thank-you note is one such old-school technique that many employers respond favorably to. In fact, according to an Accountemps survey, 59 percent of recruiters said thank-you notes were “very helpful” for candidates, and 32 percent said it was “somewhat helpful.”

It seems that no amount of technological savvy can replace the simple, but powerful, impact of the thank-you note. If you did well at an interview, a thank-you note will cement your good image in the minds of the hiring team; if the interview did not go so well, the thank-you note can be an opportunity to clear up things up and right some of your wrongs.

With the power of thank-you notes in mind, I thought it would be useful to offer some tips on how to execute a great follow-up note that enhances your chances of being hired:

1. Don’t Text

No matter how friendly you got with the interviewer, don’t text a thank-you note, as it may be seen as over-familiar. The Accountemps survey mentioned above found that only 10 percent of employers welcome text message thank-you notes.

2. Avoid Tweeting

It might seem cool and hip to tweet your thank-you note, but in reality, only 27 percent of employers value this approach.

3. Send Your Note via Phone or Email

More than 80 percent of employers prefer to receive thank-you notes in one of these ways, making them the most popular options.

4. Timing Matters

You’ll want to follow up within 24-48 hours to ensure you are still fresh in the interviewer’s mind. Try making contact between 8 AM and 10 AM or between 3 PM and 7 PM to increase your chance of being heard, as suggested by this Dex Media infographic.

5. Don’t Forget the Basics

Of course you want to thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you, but then you should quickly move from niceties to weighty, meaningful content.

6. Match Your Strengths to Their Needs

Remind the interviewer of your qualifications by mentioning two or three of your key strengths that match the key job requirements highlighted during the interview. If they interviewed a lot of people, busy hiring managers can forget who you are and what your unique strengths are. Remind them that you are a great fit, positioning yourself at the forefront of their mind.

7. Dispel Any Doubts

This is not the time for a major repair session. You will not save a terribly bad interview with a thank-you letter, but you might able to address one or two lingering doubts the interviewer may have — e.g., “I am now confident I will be able to reduce my notice period from two months to three weeks.” Keep this brief. Strengths need to outweigh doubts.

And finally, keep the message punchy and concise, which will make you appear professional, efficient, and focused.

Read more in Interview Tips

Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.