The one thing you have to do in a thank-you e-mail to save a good interview or turnaround a bad one!

So you had a great interview.  You aced it!  And then you sent off the thank-you e-mail as soon as you got home, as you are supposed to do.  You proof read it and there was not a single typo or grammatical error.  And you did not get the job.  This is what you wrote:

Dear Jane,

I want to profusely thank you and your colleagues for taking the time to interview me today for the Communications Coordinator position.  I truly enjoyed learning about Wishful Thinking, Inc.  The fact that you were all so willing to share with me your insights on the position means a lot to me. 

Rest assured I am excited about joining the team and look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again and warm regards,

Joe

Excuse me while I shed a tear after rereading my beautiful prose.

I’m back now…

So what’s wrong with this letter?  It’s garbage!  It could be sent to anyone after any interview.  It only goes to one person; the other interviewers apparently are not worthy of an e-mail.  And most importantly, it did not do what a thank-you e-mail has to do: let the interviewer(s) know that you were listening, you heard what they said, and you get it.

So how should the thank-you e-mail be written?

Dear Jane,

Thank you very much for taking the time to meet with me this morning to discuss my candidacy for the Communications Coordinator position.  I appreciate your time and candor.

Now comes the tough part.  You have to make it personal.  How do you do that?  You choose to focus on the one thing that you believe is most important for the interviewer.

During the interview, ask the question, “If I were to get this job how could I make your life easier?”  Write down the answer.  Also write down the first unique question each interviewer asks you; you can assume that that is what is most important for them.  (When you meet individually with a number of people, they will ask many of the same questions to compare answers.  Thus my belief that the first unique question is the one of most importance to them.)  If during the interview there is an intense discussion on a specific topic, write that down and who was most “intense.”

Choose one of the three and write about it in the second paragraph.

I fully understand the importance of expanding your social media presence with a focus on the company’s values instead of products, and especially the need to promote the hiring of veterans and to assure accessibility to our website and all on-line activities by those persons with disabilities.

Now she knows that you were listening to her, and everyone else will know that you were listening to them because their e-mails will focus on what was important to them.  (They will also know that you are imaginative enough to write a few different e-mails.  And, before anyone asks, you have to have everyone’s name and e-mail.  Don’t start the interview without that information.  Just ask for it.  It should not be a big deal.)

Next, if they asked for you to follow-up with some specific information, include it in the letter.  If it will take a while to get it for them, reference it so they know you did not forget and that it is on the way.  Don’t wait to send the e-mail.

Finally, the thank-you e-mail is an opportunity to correct anything you said that was incorrect, clarify an answer, or provide a better answer to a question.  Just keep it short.  When printed, the e-mail should not be more than one page in length.

If I may, I need to correct one thing I said during the interview.  I mixed up the number of followers we have on Twitter and Facebook.  The correct numbers are 24,000 for the former and 35,000 for the latter. 

Then just end it.

Thank you again for your consideration.  I truly appreciate it and look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Joe

A good thank-you e-mail can save a bad interview and a bad thank-you e-mail can destroy a good interview.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter, career counselor and business advisor.  In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.  Visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about the latest questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies.

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