You just got off the phone after a promising chat with a hiring manager, and you’re certain you’re the perfect fit for the job. The hiring manager said she’d let you know soon about next steps — which means things are out of your hands now, right?
It's time to sit back, treat yourself to a celebratory bar of chocolate, and wait for the job offer to appear.
According to CareerBuilder’s 2016 survey of U.S. workers, only 43% of job seekers send thank you notes after interviews. Less than half! What does this stat mean to you? It means sending a thank you letter after a phone interview is your chance to stand out from the crowd.
Is it required? No.
Will it tip the scales in your favor? Probably.
Will it make grandma proud? Absolutely.
Paper or digital?
Back in the pre-email days, Emily Post would recommend you break out your most professional stationary and prettiest penmanship for a paper thank you note. These days, email is perfectly acceptable — and speed is more important than the medium. A paper thank you letter can make a nice impression, but will it get through the snail mail fast enough to affect the hiring manager's decision? Probably not — you want to make sure to send your note within 24 hours.
The big takeaway here? Tweeting or texting are great for friends, but a casual "thx 4 the interview" won't impress your future boss.
To phone or not to phone?: 81% of hiring managers preferred phone calls — though after a phone interview it may be best to follow up with a written thank you letter. However, do keep in mind that if your role will involve more speaking than writing (like a sales rep or customer service) it could be smart to phone in your thanks after an in-person interview.)
What to call the interviewer
Tradition says to address your letters to Dear Mr./Ms. Surname, but today’s business environments are generally more casual.
Before you throw all convention out the window, though, do a bit of research. Addressing an interviewer by his or her first name may lose you points if you’re interviewing some place traditional, like a bank — but on the other hand, using an overly formal address at a casual startup might have the opposite effect.
Your thank you letter should have three parts. Be sure to:
Thank your interviewer (surprise!)
Bring up something you appreciated about the interview
Reiterate your interest in — and qualifications for — the job
Think of the thank you letter as your closing argument as to why you should be hired. It's your chance to sum up your qualifications and make your case.
And if you're like most humans, it's also a great second chance to mention any relevant skills and job experience that popped into your head the instant you hung up the phone.
Pro tip: Include a link to your LinkedIn account, personal website, or online portfolio so the interviewer can learn more about you.
One caveat: As tempting as it may be, don’t apologize for a poor interview in your thank you letter — just put your best foot forward. Chances are you did a much better job than you think!
Edit, edit, edit
Nothing undermines a stellar phone interview more quickly than a thank you letter riddled with errors. It's like finding a great-looking pair of shoes, only to realize they leak in the rain.
This is your chance to make a professional impression, so edit carefully for grammar, clarity, and spelling. You may even want to get a second opinion — particularly if it's been a while since your last grammar class and you're feeling fuzzy about commas and "there/their/they'res".
Should you send anything besides a thank you note?
Nope. Just send a note.
Sending anything else — like chocolates or gift cards — may come off as an attempt to bribe the hiring manager. Worse, it may just seem plain weird.
For a head-shaking list of what not to do, check out this CareerBuilder survey. They asked hiring managers about the most unusual tactics candidates had used to try to get the job, and heard everything from having a priest put in the good word to sending a flower-filled shoe, along with a note reading: “Trying to get my foot in the door.”
You want to be memorable for the right reasons — not to become an anecdote at the next company Christmas party.
What if you don't hear back?
You may not get a response to your thank you letter, and that's fine. But don't be afraid to follow up if you still haven't heard back after a decent amount of time.
It’s fine to send a polite note in a week or so — this shows you’re still interested in the job, and keeps the lines of communication open. Just be careful not to be a pest.
Sample thank you letter:
Not sure what to write? Here’s a sample thank you letter to get you started.
Take it and make it your own, infusing it with as much personality as appropriate. Scale the formality up or down depending on your sense of the company — if you had a chatty conversation with the hiring manager, for example, feel free to be a bit less formal.
Your best bet, of course, is to err on the side of professionalism.
Thank You – [Sales Manager Position]
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak about the [POSITION] at [COMPANY] earlier today. I enjoyed our conversation, and appreciated learning more about the job. It seems to be an excellent match for my skills.
One thing that particularly caught my interest was [the opportunity to help grow your company/the fast-paced, independent work environment you described/whatever most excites you about the job]. With my [past experience in this area/specialized skill set/ability to adapt quickly], I think I’ll be an ideal fit for the position.
Along with my [specific qualifications], I’ll also bring [an enthusiasm for the specific work/a spirit of team cooperation/and excellent organizational skills].
I appreciate the time you took to interview me. If you have any questions or need any further information from me, please don’t hesitate to get in touch via email or phone. I look forward to hearing from you.