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Why Thank You letters matter after a job interview

Updated: May 3, 2021

I recently stumbled across a TikTok (why yes, I am on TikTok) where a job applicant said that they didn't feel that they should have to write a thank you letter to an employer after an interview. Their argument was that since they'd thanked the hiring manager at the end of the interview, they felt that they didn't need to send a thank you letter. That they shouldn't have to follow up since the transaction had been completed and requiring anything more would feel like the applicant owed something to the employer/hiring manager.

Look, I get it. The job application and interview process is frustrating enough as it is. It sucks when you feel like you suddenly have one more thing you have to do in order to land a job.

But in my opinion, that's where the rub is — are you trying to just land a job or are you trying to land the job? If you're just applying to a bunch of positions and don't really have much interest in them other than for a paycheck, then yes, the interview is going to feel completely transactional and sending a thank you letter is going to feel like overkill.

However, if you're trying to land the job - you know, the one you busted your butt to tailor your resume toward and created a cover letter for that detailed exactly why you'd be a good fit and why you want the job (which you can learn how to write here), then chances are that you're grateful for the interview and you make sure that the interview isn't just a transaction.

Thank them for extra information

If you're really interested in the job, then the interview is your opportunity to learn more about the position, the company, and what would be expected of you in the role. It's always a good idea to bring some questions to the interview to ask at the end, but during a really great interview, you'll likely also come up with other questions to ask throughout the interaction. And if the interviewer is able to answer those questions and provide you with information that wasn't in the job description, then that is what you're thanking them for in the thank you letter.

Stand out in a positive way

Another great reason to send a thank you letter to the interviewer is to remind them of who you are. It's not that you didn't make a great impression during the interview, but more that you have no idea how many applicants they interviewed that day or that week for the job. By following up with a thank you letter, you increase the likelihood that the interviewer will remember you.

Remind them of your qualifications for the job

Even better, a thank you letter gives you an opportunity to reiterate a talking point from the interview that demonstrated why you're such a good candidate. (For example, if you mentioned a project you worked on at previous position and the interviewer seemed really interested in that experience because it related to the job you're applying for, then touch on that in the thank you letter!)

Give yourself a leg up

Sending a thank you letter after an interview can actually give you a leg up over the other applicants since many people don't bother to send the thank you letter. I once had a client who went through five rounds of interviews for a position because they couldn't decide between him and another candidate. They told him after they offered him the position that they selected him over the other candidate because he sent them a thank you letter after every interview!

Personally, I think anything you can do to increase your chances of being selected for a position is worth it - especially if it's a job you really want.

Why not be thankful?

When I interview for a position, I am truly thankful for that interview. That doesn't mean I'm going to grovel before the interviewer out of gratitude. I'm just thankful that they gave me a chance. They don't owe me anything just because I applied for a position, so I appreciate the opportunity they've provided by granting me an interview where I can learn more about the role and their organization to see if it's a good fit.

So, even if the position is not a good fit, and I decide not to continue in the interview process, I still send a thank you letter. Not just because I'm thankful for the interview, but because I'm thankful that I was able to gather enough data from the interview to make an informed decision about the role.

Everyone likes to be thanked

Lastly, I think it doesn't hurt to tell the interviewer that you appreciate their time. Yes, it's probably part of their job to interview you, but why not just thank them for their time anyways? I think most people tend to appreciate a thank you. So why not take ten minutes to craft and send them that thank you letter?

Good luck out there!

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