Thriving Together Series: Notes to Send After a Job Interview

Thriving Together Notes After Job Interview

By: Kabir Dugh, Harman Singh, Marie Yao, and Lam Ye, Mason students in the School of Business

 “Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.” – Chris Grosser

Interviewing for a job is a critical step in landing a role at a company where you would like to work. While it’s vital to do your best during a job interview itself, it’s also important to follow up well after a job interview. Here are different types of notes you can send afterward, to help maximize your success.

This Harvard Business Review article explains four possible notes that you can send to hiring managers once an interview is over.

The first and most popular type of note is called a thank-you note. This note reinstates your interest as a candidate for the position and should also mention at least one piece of information that you learned from the job interview. The second type of note to consider is a follow-up note. You can send this note if you don’t hear back from the employer a week past the date by which they said they would have made their decision. This note can inquire about any possible updates while asking if there is any additional information you can provide them. The third type of note is called an exception. You can write this type of note to update the company about your availability or portfolio directly following the interview. For example, if you received a job offer elsewhere, this is a chance to let them know that you have an offer but would still like to hear back from them before making your final decision. The final type of note is called a feedback note. This note can help in case you didn’t get the job position you desired and would like to hear back from recruiters regarding any possible advice or tips they can offer you.

Let’s explore the three types of notes that you may want to send most often.

The Thank-You Note

Expressing your gratitude after the interview through a thank-you note can improve your chances of hearing back from the interviewer in a timely manner, and also help you develop a more personable relationship.

One tip that has worked from our collective experience is asking for the interviewer’s email address toward the end of the interview. This can save time and the stress of locating the interviewee’s address on your own. Their email will be used not only for follow-up correspondence, but also for any additional questions. We recommend sending the email either later that day or within the next one to two days. Try to be timely as an interviewee can be speaking with many candidates a day. A simple way to stand out is by leaving a personal touch from your conversation and reaffirm your qualifications and interest in the position.

A great example from an industry expert on the value of thank you notes comes from this Business Insider.com article written by Jessica Liebman, an executive managing editor of Insider Inc. She emphasizes that thank-you notes are a great way to differentiate yourself as a candidate. She also points out that the thank-you note reflects the candidate’s desire for the role and shines a light on the candidate’s eagerness, organizational skills, and resourcefulness.

Our group believes that to be successful with post-interview letters, you should prepare during your interview to write them well. A great practice is active listening, through verbal and non-verbal cues such as nodding your head during the interview. Also, try to make a mental note of one or two key takeaways that you can address later in your thank-you note. While there are many templates online of what to write, you can ultimately make it your own. We recommended generally including thanking interviewers for their time, mentioning a component of the interview that stuck with you (such as: “The collaborative company culture you identified is the ideal workplace where I could see myself working.”), and concluding with a sentence reaffirming why you are a strong candidate and well-positioned for the role.

The Follow-Up Note

If you don’t hear back from the recruiters by the date they promised you they would update you, you may send a follow-up note. An effective follow-up note should:

  • Feature a strong subject line: You should choose a strong and direct subject line so the person who received your email would know what kind of mail it is to decide whether they would read the email.
  • Be addressed to the right people: you should know the names of all the people with whom you interacted during the interview process – the primary interviewer(s), the person who scheduled your interview, etc.
  • Present a professional choice of words and tone: Be careful not to sound desperate or exhausted in your follow-up note. Instead, using polite words and a respectful tone can help you shine.
  • Be straightforward: Simply be straightforward about the questions you want to ask about the status of the hiring process.

Here are tips for writing a follow-up note:

  • Greet recipients by their first names.
  • Explain the reason for the note.
  • Be specific about the role for which you interviewed.
  • Reaffirm your interest in the position.
  • Ask directly about the status of the hiring process.
  • Finish by thanking the

According to this GoBankingRates.com article by finance writer Caroline Banton, a follow-up note is one of 20 ways to improve your chances of getting a job, giving you some control over the hiring decision.

The Feedback Note

Requesting feedback after an interview is crucial. According to this Wall Street Journal article by Sue Shellenbarger, you can ask questions such as “How do you feel about moving my candidacy forward, and how do I compare with others you’re considering for the position?”, via email immediately or within 24 hours of the interview. Feedback after an interview is important to help you determine if there are any changes that you should make to your interviewing approach. In the article, the author talks about Abhijit Phadnis, who asked for feedback when he was rejected for his dream position as a financial manager at a consumer product company. He discovered his interview answers focused too much on his past work on various teams, and failed to explain how his individual skills fit the job. The company wanted to know more about his accomplishments. Once he discovered this, he asked to redo the interview, admitted he hadn’t done as well as he should have in the interviews, explained that he had admired the company and used its products since childhood, and promised to offer additional information. The manager accepted, and Abhijit got the job. Abhijit had never asked for feedback from his interview, he would have never landed this position. Regardless of what happens for you, it is always useful to ask for feedback to improve and improve your chances of landing a position. If you do end up asking for a redo, the article says, you should give interviewers something new, such as a different work sample or examples of past accomplishments.

Here are tips for writing a feedback note:

  • Thank the interviewers.
  • Express disappointment for not obtaining the position.
  • Explain the purpose of the note.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Express gratitude in advance for that feedback.

Feedback on your skills can help you improve for your next interview. Most interviewers and recruiters have valuable information to share regarding what they’re looking for in a candidate and they can provide more insights on how to achieve success when you’re interviewing.

The benefits of asking for feedback are:

  • Network expansion
  • New opportunities
  • Understanding peer competition
  • Personal development
  • Learning new insights from recruiters and interviewers

Conclusion

In conclusion, of the different ways to follow up after a job interview, the thank-you note is one the most important because it shows your interest in the position. Consider the follow-up note only if you don’t hear back from the hiring manager after a certain time. If you need to communicate some type of change or emergency to your interviewers, you can send an exception note. Finally, the feedback note gives you an opportunity to review how the interview was and how to prepare for your next interview.

Additional Resources

Learn more about following up after a job interview in this ZipRecruiter.com blog and this article from TheMuse.com.

This Indeed.com article presents examples of follow-up emails to send after a job interview.

Write one of these Thriving Together Series features! We’re looking for contributions on all topics related to well-being. Read other Thriving Together Series articles here and contact us at cwb@gmu.edu for guidelines. Thank you for helping our Mason community thrive together online!