Why Your Post-Interview Thank You Letter Isn’t Working

Linda ReyesBlogging, Forbes Coaches Counsel


Writing a nice thank you letter after a job interview may set you apart since most people don’t even do that today. But it often won’t help you win the job.

Creating innovative, thoughtful follow-up communication, especially for executives, may be the only way you increase your chances of getting hired.

This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate the phrase “thank you” in follow-up correspondence. It just means you need to think about how you follow up and follow through after an interview and make it count.

You must not think of it as a thank you letter of old, but a chance to reignite the hiring manager or committee. At its best, think of it as follow-up correspondence that must continue to drive up your value. Making it count means you continue to differentiate yourself and try to create an emotional hardship on the interviewers.

Essentially, you want them to feel after getting your follow-up correspondence that if they decide not to hire you, they are clearly making a bad decision they will regret.

Start Thinking Outside The Traditional Thank You Letter

Let’s break down how a thank you letter typically sounds and what’s wrong with it:

“Dear [Name],

Thank you for your willingness and time on Friday to speak to me about the Vice President position with your company. It looks like we had a lot in common, being both from Ohio and also passionate about college basketball.”

Tip: Do not use the first paragraph to get chatty or thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. You had your chance. You are going over the same thing you covered already. It may impress them because nobody else sent a thank you letter, but that’s it.

“My skills seem to be an ideal fit for the Vice President role, and to reiterate, I feel I bring both the attitude and know-how to take each territory and build it into a winner throughout the Southeast.”

Tip: Do not reiterate the three reasons you feel your skill set is a good fit for the company, even if you have some fine points to make. Again, unless that person was not in the room during your interview, you had your chance to drive this home.

“What I did not include in our dialogue during the interview were three main factors I know I will bring to the table on day one with your company. They are a tenacity of purpose, a willingness to not only travel but to bring the teams together in all areas of my territory and create a new, winning mentality among stakeholders.”

Tip: By the third paragraph, you have completely lost them. You haven’t done anything to wow your audience. In fact, you may be interpreted as a pretty boring, by-the-book communicator.

“In closing, I would like to reiterate my interest in the position and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Tip: If you have a “closing paragraph” that says this or something like it, you are scoring only a minimum-wage kind of follow-up note that is old school and doesn’t help.

So what should you do instead? Here are two ideas:

Send An Attachment With Power

Dropbox the interviewer a one-line note that further illustrates your achievements or responds to a question that was posed during the interview. For example:

“As I mentioned to Joe and the rest of the hiring team, I have included in this file a further breakdown of each of my achievements over the last year with metrics. It will reiterate how I created the results I did, and I think you will see some of my attention to detail.

“Furthermore, I created a five-page, simple, yet very serious breakdown of your question during the interview about how I will build this territory in the next 90 days. I trust that you will review these materials, and I hope will respond by granting me the last and final interview to determine the next steps in the hiring process.”

Make A Promise And Follow Through 

Commit to following up your interview with materials, insight or something more than just a thank you and “I hope I get the job” letter. If during the interview you can uncover a weakness, a vulnerability or something that you can expand on and send the employer after the interview, you will not only be responding to an inquiry but extending your power as an interviewee. It might sound like this:

“During the interview, Bonny Jones asked me if I had any ideas about how we could handle the competition from Amazon over the next year. I went right to work on this assignment and have provided brief insight as to how I would approach this as your next Vice President. My graphic pictorial of five simple yet important ways is attached below for Bonny and the entire team.”

If you want, you can write the standard, boring, minimum-mentality thank you letter. If you are the only one who even decided to do it, it might help. But if you truly want the job, think about how you can be a powerfully confident, cordial, serious candidate who will absolutely make a difference to them.

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