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Why Is it Important to Write a Thank-You After a Job Interview?

by Barbara Bean-Mellinger

Remembering to say thank-you after someone is especially kind to you is a polite gesture most people learn from their mother, Emily Post or Miss Manners. The post-interview thank-you note, however, is much more than a gesture demonstrating good manners. It's an opportunity for the candidate to put her name in front of the interviewer another time. As such, it's important for the writer to carefully consider what to include in the note.

Demonstrates Enthusiasm

Following up the interview with a thank-you note shows renewed enthusiasm for the job. Jessica Liebman, managing editor of "Business Insider" magazine, says that if she doesn't receive a follow-up thank-you note, she assumes the candidate is either disorganized or no longer interested in the job. Either way, he's no longer in consideration, she said. Sometimes an applicant is very interested in the job but has reservations after the interview. That's what failure to send a thank-you indicates to the hiring manager.

Cuts Through the Clutter

After interviewing eight or 10 candidates for a job, everyone can start to blend together in the interviewer's mind. A thank-you note can push an applicant to the top of the hiring list -- but only if it's properly written. Alison Green, former chief of staff in charge of hiring for a nonprofit, said the biggest mistake people make is sending a generic thank-you. Writing in "U.S. News and World Report,", Green said the note should be personal, and it reference the interview. Make the thank-you note an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Email or Snail Mail

The reason traditional mail is nicknamed "snail mail" is that it moves at a very slow pace by today's standards. Email lets candidates put a thank-you note in front of the interviewer the same day. Snail mail also risks making the candidate appear old-fashioned, perhaps out of touch with the latest technologies. Worse yet, a letter sent through the mail may not even reach the interviewer. It may sit in the mail room for days, get stuck in a pile of unopened mail, or be thrown away by a secretary.

Thank You Don'ts

First and foremost, don't write the thank-you in advance in an effort to be efficient. Wait until after the interview to include specifics discussed and add personal touches. It's the kiss of death to drop off the note to the secretary or receptionist on the way out of the interview. Resist the urge to send a gift, even if the motive is sincere. Gifts look like bribes or indicate that the candidate's skills aren't adequate enough for the job without offering something extra. Don't phone the interviewer -- it's too much of an interruption -- and texting is just too informal.

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