Post-interview Etiquette: The Hand-written Thank You Letter


Should I Tell Them I Sent A Thank You Letter or Not?

This is an interesting question about etiquette I just got from a student in my 12-week job offer intensive and thought to share it as well as my response. As you take this in, you can also assess what feels right for you. If you like this approach, I welcome you to use this. 

The question is, “do I need to tell the interviewer that I'm sending them a thank you letter?” Do you need to “tell” the interviewer you’ll send such a note?

First, you have step one: you have the interview. Step two is to thank the interviewer. So, how do you want to thank them? Send the thank you letter, right? Or some sort of thank you. So the question is, “how should I execute my thank you? And do I need to tell them to expect the thank you?”

Let's just talk about “thank yous” for a minute, and then I'll answer the specific question. 

When you leave the interview room, the interview is not yet over. 

I’ve sat in a lot of rooms both as interviewer and interviewee. My feeling is that what you do after the interview is probably just as important as what you do during the interview. 

Consider this scenario: let's say that you have a good interview experience and three other people also interview well and are on par with you as far as technical and behavioral factors are concerned. 

What could help you to stand out? It will likely be this: it's going to be your after-interview performance - the “follow-ups” and the “thank yous” that you can provide. 

What counts as a proper thank you, anyway?  

Most of my audience is adept at applying and getting into a university but has not had a lot of experience getting jobs before. To get into a school program, you likely didn’t send a thank you letter as part of that effort (although some will go to great lengths to visit the school, meet individuals, and send thank-yous - which was my experience). 

So, what do you do to thank somebody? 

You do two things. One, you send them an email, right? So let's just get that clear. You send them an email thank you note. Super important. And in this email, you are to reaffirm your fit with the role and tell them that you look forward to the “next steps”. 

Still today, some people are just doing nothing after the interview except to wait. 

If you have questions about how to craft such an email, just comment below, and I can give you some further guidance. 

The next thing is the handwritten note.

Philosophy of the hand-written note

From my perspective as an interviewer, a handwritten note is a must if you want my consideration for the job. I am sorry if you don't like to hear this, but you need to change your mind about this because you want a job - I’m here to help you get a good one - and you want to take every appropriate step available to you to get that job. 

My logic is this: if there was something additional you could do to secure the offer, would you do it? 


And if you're talking to firms from which you don't want offers, which don’t motivate you to go that extra mile, then perhaps you start talking to companies where you would dream to work so that your motivation is high and you’re willing to take this extra step. 

The handwritten note is straightforward. This is just to say, “Thank you very much for your time today to talk about my interest in FIRM. And then just sign your name, seal the envelope, address the letter to the individual, lick the stamp, and put it into the mailbox. 

One sentence, ”Dear name, Thank you for your time interviewing me today.” Signed, your name. That's all you need to say. The magic is that you sent it in this package.  The meaning lies in the time and effort you took to send it. 

Can we put you in front of a client? 

All of these companies are selling something to customers.  They want their customers to feel great about their product or service. As a sales organization - of banking, analytics, or consulting services - they want to see that you’re up for a little basic selling of yourself, too. They want to see that you also care about the product or service that you are selling to them (you are selling yourself).  That's where this handwritten note comes in. It is not enough just to send the email. 

When to send the Thank You note? 

It is considered respectful to send the email and handwritten thank-yous within 24 hours of the interview - on the same day of the interview is best. With some of my clients who have on-site interviews, I will guide them on how to hand-deliver the note or notes right after the interview. 

Case study: offer accepted 

Industry and function: financial services analytics

Location: NYC

Situation: undergrad on 1-yr OPT

Base salary $75,000 + benefits

 In one successful case, the interview was on-site at the firm’s NYC offices. After the interviewer, my client went to the lobby, wrote the thank you notes to the interviewers - she had been advised to bring notes to NYC - and then just dropped the handwritten thank you notes in the post office box on the street next to the firm’s office. The firm got the letters the very next day. 

Handwritten notes are essential. Hopefully, I've made that point. 

Now back to the initial question: No, you don't need to tell the interviewer that you are sending them a thank you note.

What you want to do is have them receive it.

How to get someone’s physical address for mailing?

One question that comes up - especially in the era of virtual interviews - is the next question, “Well, how do I get the physical address?”. Please see a few ways of confirming this information. I’ll save my favorite for last - which requires you to also have a business card ready to share. 

Especially in this day and age of virtual communications, how do you know where anybody is? 

Well, addressing this question is part of the art of finishing the interview.

When you interview, it’s always a good idea to confirm that individual's contact information. 

You may or may not have their physical contact information - even if you do, it’s best to confirm it before the interview ends.

Something I like to do at this point is a little bit “old school”: I like to offer to exchange business cards on the video call. 

I may say, “Thank you so much for your time. What's the best way to stay in touch? And they could say, “Uh, well, you can just email me”. And then you can say, “Do you have a card? And they may say, “Well, um, we're speaking virtually. I can't give you a card.”

And you can follow up with, “Would you be able to message me here in the chat your company contact information so that I can follow up with you?”

Another way to follow up is to ask, “Do you have a card that I could view on the screen and take a screenshot of so that I could know how to follow up with you?”

I think the one I like the best is this one: “Can we do a virtual card exchange?” And at that moment, you show your card on the screen. This will then likely prompt the other party to fish around and find their card and show it. Take a screenshot and then you’re good.

Generally speaking, the firms will forward all mail to the interviewer’s private address is if they are WFH.

So in the question of sending the handwritten note, how to send it, the mechanics, all you need is an address. You do not need to tell somebody that you are sending it. The interviewer knows that if you're a high-quality candidate, you will be sending one. And if you're not, that you probably won't. 

So at the end of an interview, just make sure that you have confirmed the contact information for them. I always like this approach: “Would you be able to exchange a virtual card with me?”

Happy job hunting!


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