Thank You Notes…Still Protocol When Interviewing by Robert Cohn, Managing Partner & Director of Automation Practice

BLN467_ROBERT COHN_A WEBSo you thought writing a thank you note after an interview wasn’t necessary? Think again.

One of my best clients asked me to take on a challenging search for a sales professional who could meet their qualifications and requirements. My team and I worked diligently on this search and in a short time presented a candidate that piqued their interest.

This candidate went through 2 phone interviews, 1 face-to-face interview and was invited to HQ for a final face-to-face interview. When completed, I was able to debrief both the client and candidate. Both parties shared with me that it was a perfect match and were ready to move to the next level…the job offer.

Several days went by without a word from my client, so I reached out to them and asked if they were ready to close the deal and make an offer to our candidate. What I heard was an emphatic “NO”. The reason was simple…the candidate failed to send a thank you note or email when interviews were concluded. To our client, this showed a lack of gratitude, follow-up and the ability to close the deal…all necessary to be successful in a sales role. In addition, a thank you note would have allowed them to judge his response time and written communication skills.

I called our candidate to ask why he had forgotten this very important step especially since we discussed it as vital part of the interview and post interview process. He didn’t give me a reason as to why he failed to communicate with them but said he would send a note right away. However, it was too late. My client had already decided to start fresh and look at other candidates.

Bottom line, a thank you note or email is still protocol. It’s not old school but respect for a hiring manager’s time and consideration.  In addition, it gives you the opportunity to reiterate your strong interest in the position and answer any questions they may have. It can also set you apart from your competition.

With that, here are some tips to consider when sending your thank you note:

  1. Send your thank you note to every person involved in the interview. Each one should be personalized. Make sure to get a business card or necessary contact information before you leave.
  2.  Nothing beats a hand-written letter, but in this day in age this can be too slow of a response. If you chose to send a thank you note in the mail, send an email as well. Email is perfectly acceptable and is commonly used for thank you notes.
  3. Be sure to send your thank you note or email no later than 24 hours after your interview.
  4. How you write your thank you note makes a difference. Try to make each one original and provide 3-5 sentences thanking them for their time and expressing your enthusiasm. Also, include your contact information should they have questions or want to follow up.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Did writing a thank you note ever separate you from other candidates? Did failing to do so ever prevent you from getting the job?