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Does Your Interview Thank-You Note Make You Look Lazy?

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish—a popular rallying cry heard everywhere from trailing head coaches during in-game interviews, to surging political candidates attempting to reel in the frontrunner.

Most everyone agrees that finishing trumps starting.

Today’s job candidates either didn’t get the memo or feel there is some sort of exception to this rule.

My last post discussed the importance of making a strong first impression with a professional resume. While this certainly is important—because you can’t finish what you don’t start—there seems to be an attention deficit on the post-interview thank you.

Neglecting to follow through with a thank-you note isn’t only lazy; it’s dangerous to your candidacy.

This The Wall Street Journal article outlining the importance of thank-you notes following an interview, reports that “Nearly 9 out of 10 senior executives consider a written thank you influential in evaluating candidates.”

Consider that by simply completing the gesture, you jump to the top ten percent of the applicant pool because the other candidates don’t do it. This should boost your confidence since executing such a simple task sinks almost all of your competitors. The great thing about going the extra mile is there isn’t any traffic!

If you really want something, you can’t hold anything back. Chances are you don’t know the caliber of the other candidates under consideration. Not to mention, your biggest competitor might be that the hiring manager decides to hold off on hiring anyone. Remove all doubt in the eyes of the hiring manager by excelling with your post-interview thank-you notes.

Here are some tips:

Double up by sending both email and a handwritten note.
You can’t beat the speed of email or the professionalism of a handwritten note. Doing both distinguishes you as an “AND” professional not an “OR” employee. Hiring managers want to bring on people who will Work Smart AND Hard, not Work Smart OR Hard.

Timing is everything.
Send your email and mail your note the same day as your interview when possible. Think of this as a speed test. Hiring managers want people who get things done.

Show that you can listen.
Great sales people are active listeners. Showcase your listening skills by referencing specific information learned during the interview in your follow-up correspondence.

Overtime selling.
Post interview communication is a platform for you to recap your key points and add in anything that wasn’t covered during the interview. If on the way home you thought to yourself, “I wish I would have said…” here’s your chance.

Be brief.
Hiring managers don’t want to read a novel. Most prefer the sales professional who doesn’t need to use two words when one will do. But remember you have to actually say something. Being so brief that your note sounds generic and boring, leaving out any detail that makes you unique, does not help you stand out from other candidates.

And just like I mentioned in my post on resumes, you can’t slack on the details in your thank-you note, either. This is not the place to spell the interviewer’s name wrong or not check spelling before you send.

Go down in history

One of the best thank you notes I ever received was from an out-of-town candidate who paid out of her own pocket to fly from Florida to interview with memoryBlue. She nailed the email thank-you, sending personalized—but different—messages to both my business partner and me the same day she interviewed. A couple of days later, we both received personal, handwritten thank-you notes.

In both the email and handwritten versions, she referenced specific details from our conversation during her interview, demonstrated she listened by documenting how her qualifications were a fit for what we needed, explained how the challenge of the opportunity appealed to her, reiterated why she wouldn’t work for anything other than performance-based compensation, and professed to outwork all comers.

Her closing was one for the ages and will forever go down in company lore.

In large, dark, double underlined text, were these four simple words:  I Say Bring It!

She got the job, paid her way to relocate to Northern Virginia, and I’m happy to say she officially “brought it” by becoming one of our top performers.

Use your manners

Your mom and dad probably taught you about the importance of thank-you notes, so this concept isn’t groundbreaking. But like all the manners that your parents taught you, the key is using them.

The legendary Tony Robbins said it best, “It’s not knowing what to do, it’s doing what you know.”

And while it is polite and proper to send that thank-you note after the interview, it’s not just the “traditional right thing to do.” The thank-you note is a powerful sales tool. Will you be one of the ten percent that puts it to use? That job could hinge on it.

The choice – of course – is yours as to whether or not you’ll “Bring It!”


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Since cofounding memoryBlue in 2002, Chris has helped provide inside sales resources to more than 150 high tech companies, and has hired, placed, or evaluated hundreds of high tech sales professionals. Chris spearheads the memoryBlue recruiting service, and is passionate about developing sales talent that generates results.

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