Over the past 2 years, I’ve been witness to some of the best and some of the worst interview thank you emails in startup sales. We’ve had thousands of candidates interview for hundreds of jobs. Some of their follow-ups almost seemed worthy of a Pulitzer while many others simply wrote nothing at all.
Based on these observations, here are some of our best practices for writing great post-interview thank you emails.
Many people like to wait until the next day, or even the following Monday after a Friday interview, to send their thank you emails.
Why? Choosing a specific waiting period is completely arbitrary.
In sales, it is well known that a lead decays quickly and the longer it takes you to respond to a lead, the less chance you have of closing that lead. It’s the same reason that a retailer asks “Do you need any help?” soon after you walk in instead of asking while you’re heading towards the door.
Send a note while they still have a strong impression of you. If the hiring manager is excited about your candidacy, you’ll add momentum in your process by sending something sooner instead of leaving them wondering as to whether you’re excited to continue the process.
Who to Include
You should thank everyone that you spoke with on your interview, even if it was just a recruiter that helped coordinate everything.
If you don’t already have everyone’s email address, use tools like Rapportive, Linkedin Connect, or guess based on the domain pattern (most startup emails are firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
If you still can’t figure it out, ask one of your contacts from the company, starting from the bottom — you don’t want to ask an executive for something that could seem menial if you could get the answer from someone else.
Don’t send a generic or template email to anyone. If you care about your reputation, take the time to write personal notes to each stakeholder. They will certainly be reviewing your performance and you don’t want to give them any indication of laziness.
While you don’t want to template the email, you can use a simple framework to craft each email. Something like this should help guide you:
- Thank the recipient.
- Mention a part of the conversation with them that piqued your interest.
- Provide additional insight on that topic if possible, including relevant articles or research you found that is insightful and adds to the conversation.
- Choose up to 2 pain points that they are hiring for, that you can help with, and describe how your experience addresses those pain points.
- Unless they told you about next steps, don’t tell them “you’re looking forward to hearing back/taking next steps/continuing the conversation/ad nauseum.” It’s presumptive and doesn’t add any value to your email.
Non-Email Thank Yous
If you want to be non-traditional, and perhaps a bit more memorable, you have some options. Use these wisely so you don’t overplay your hand, and probably in later stages of the interview process as they will be more time consuming for you.
- Hand Written note: Throwback, nostalgic, shows that you took a lot of time and care
- Bottle of Booze: this can get you some bonus points if you happen to know what type they like, but only do this if it’s a real genuine thing (i.e you had a convo about their favorite whisky)
- Book: Did you read a book they were interested in but hadn’t read? Ship it to their office and leave them with something non-perishable to remember you.
DISCLAIMER: Proceed with caution if you‘re considering sending something other than a letter to the hiring manager’s office. On many occasions it could come off as too strong, so do your best to judge the situation and assess benefits vs risk.
If you want to go the extra mile but the above options don’t fit, there are many other ways to add value. For example you could use your followup to introduce them to prospective clients, or other folks who can help them grow their business
Sales and recruiting may have become modernized through technology but at the end of the day, getting a job still requires you to build an emotional connection with your future co-workers. Even if you feel confident in yourself or have personal relations to the hiring team, it never hurts to demonstrate the level of passion and professionalism to make their decision super easy.