It has become customary for candidates to follow up with a letter of thanks after an interview, no matter what the job. In fact, it’s really more of an expectation than an option for most positions, and most experienced interviewers will consider it a critical oversight should you over look it.
Beyond just a professional formality, your follow-up letter can be surprisingly powerful—if you take the right approach.
When you’re on the job hunt, you’re essentially marketing your skills, experience, and character to businesses. If you’re going to be a marketer, you might as well be a good one.
Luckily there are plenty of basic marketing mentalities you can translate into career growth, including the often-overlooked interview follow-up. For your next post-interview “thank-you” letter, try applying these core fundamentals of modern marketing:
1. The Importance of Being Genuine
One of the hottest buzzwords in all of marketing right now is “authenticity.”
What marketers are finding is that audiences across the board—especially those in younger generations—just aren’t responding to brands, messaging, and products that are perceived in any way to be “fake.”
If your message of thanks isn’t genuine, and your follow up is just a thinly-veiled personal sales pitch, it will stick out like a sore, mass-produced plastic thumb from China.
Peoples’ B.S. meters are more sensitive than ever. We’re overexposed to empty messages and generic, faceless brands; consumers understandably want something more fulfilling and substantial. It’s why hipster subcultures with a craving for “old fashioned” aesthetics, hand-made products and unconventional lifestyles are growing like weeds.
When in doubt, always err on the side of being real to yourself and expressing your true feelings. It sounds cheesy, but a hiring manager that already gets a flood of interview follow ups would rather get that than another canned email crowding their inbox. And after all, someone has taken time out of their busy day to consider you for a job—showing a little genuine gratitude is the least you can do!
2. Keep Customer Experience Front and Center
Ever bailed out of a purchase online because the site’s user experience was so terrible? Or sworn off a restaurant due to awful customer service experience?
These days, it doesn’t take much to turn off a lead. People have too many options available to settle for a mediocre experience. That’s why 89% of marketers are turning their focus to prioritize customer experience.
In this case, you should take care that the “experience” of your thank-you letter is overall positive. And yes, an email (or a letter, should you choose to go that route) does count as an experience. If you’ve ever endured a long wait for a simple confirmation email from a website, only for it to be poorly formatted and barely readable on mobile, you’ve had a bad one.
So what makes a good “follow-up experience?”
- First of all, it should be brief and concise. Respect your interviewers’ time. You should have done most of your talking during the interview—this is just a final opportunity to reinforce a key point and show your gratitude.
- Second, it should be appropriately formatted and free of distracting typos and grammar errors. You’d think this would go without saying, but it’s astonishing how so many people follow up their near-impeccable interview through a note riddled with mistakes. Use paragraph breaks appropriately and don’t submit a huge, unbroken wall of text.
- Finally, be timely and responsive. A good rule of thumb is to have a pleasant, meaningful and genuine letter of thanks sitting on top of your interviewers’ inboxes first thing in the morning of the next business day after your interview. However, it’s entirely appropriate to follow up even sooner. Certainly don’t wait more than a couple of days, lest you forget (or be forgotten).
3. Audience Segmentation and Personalization
Good modern marketers strive to deliver a customized, relevant and compelling message to everyone in their audience. If you’re sending out a single message to a variety of different people, you’re losing out on that sweet, sweet ROI.
The same goes for your thank-you letters. You need to understand your audience to deliver the most meaningful message. Do the appropriate homework to get an idea of their role in the organization and their relationship to your job. Look back on your conversations and reference key things you learned and highlights from your discussion.
This is marketing 101. Customize your thank-you note according to your audience and your past interactions. And if you have multiple interviewers to follow up with, take care to distinguish each one—they may compare notes, and won’t be impressed if you’re sending the same template out to everyone.