Remember the days when people wrote carefully worded letters – thank you notes, letters of congratulations, etc. Now, a hand-written letter is a rarity and computer experts are continually predicting the death of email (I’ve heard everything from 2015 to 2020 – I’m not holding my breath). Regardless of the format, the follow-up note is one form of communication that job seekers should not put to death. And while a hand-written note can still be nice, given the issues with mail in many government and defense industry facilities, an email is a much quicker, more failsafe method of follow-up.
You should send an email to a recruiter or hiring manager after an interview (or even a basic phone screen). What should you include? Here are a few points to consider:
Keep it brief.
Your follow-up email should be 2-3 paragraphs – tops. It should specifically – and first and foremost- thank them for the opportunity. Take the time to proofread your email – read, re-read, and then read again. Make sure you’re following grammar rules, and that there are no misspellings.
Give them a reason to remember you.
And don’t assume they’ll remember who you are if you send a generic, “Thanks for the interview opportunity” note. Recruiters may speak to dozens of candidates on a given day. Even if you participated in a sit down interview with the company’s hiring manager, there’s a good chance you were one of several such interviews that day. Your follow-up email should give specific hints as to what was discussed previously. Try to add a personal touch about the recruiter or interviewer. If they mentioned attending a baseball game with their family later in the day, ask them how it went, or “I was glad to see your team won last night.” Don’t overdo it though. There is a thin, somewhat difficult to navigate line between personable and too personal. When in doubt, err on the side of keeping things professional.
follow-up with details you forgot in the interview.
But don’t overdo it. A follow-up thank you isn’t the same as a cover letter – you don’t need to give a recruiter a laundry list of your skills. But feel free to highlight a skillset that didn’t come up in the initial conversation that you feel is worth mentioning (“Mobile app development is something we didn’t get to in our conversation yesterday, but I did spend 6 months developing…”).
If you completely flubbed a question, it’s probably best to not bring it up. No recruiter is going to be fooled if you completely stumbled over a question about a technical program, but then magically have the correct answer in the email you send the next day. “”I don’t know how I completely forgot yesterday, but I really am an expert at application log management…” But if you feel that you didn’t have time to address a specific topic or issue in the interview, then it’s definitely okay to mention it (succinctly) it in the follow-up email. It’s also okay to follow-up with a question you forgot to ask in the interview. If you’re not sure when they’ll be making a hiring decision, ask it in the follow-up.
Tell them the truth about how the interview went.
In an initial phone conversation it’s easy to let emotions get the best of you. Over the phone, you may have made it sound like the position was your dream job and that you were definitely interested. If a good night’s sleep has convinced you the company, or maybe just that particular position, is NOT for you, be up front. The more readily you say you won’t take the positions if offered (including reasonable reasons why), the more likely that recruiter is to consider you for another position in the future.
The follow-up thank you note may have gone by the wayside, but the follow-up email is here to stay. Crafting a genuine, formatted thank you note within 24 hours of every interview opportunity or phone-screen is a great way for job seekers to show they’re actively invested in the process – and appreciative of a recruiter’s efforts. And in a job search, a little personality, and a little gratitude, can go a long way.