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Do's and Don'ts for Sending Successful Interview Thank You Email

By Susan P. Joyce

Emailed Interview Thank You Note Do's and Don'tsAs surveys by both CareerBuilder and Accountemps have indicated, the vast majority of employers accept emailed thank you notes.

Be very meticulous sending these "work samples." Demonstrate the high quality of your work.

Speed of sending and receipt is the primary advantage of sending emailed thank you notes. For example of good emailed thank you notes, read Job Interview Thank You Email.

You can follow up with paper, even hand-written, notes. Mailed (vs. emailed) notes take at least a day to deliver and may sit in a post office or corporate mail room for a while before delivery.

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[For more information: read Job Interview Thank You Email (with Samples) and Guide to Interview Thank You Notes with more Interview Thank You Note Samples.]

Writing a Successful Email Thank You: Important Do's and Don'ts

Email can be challenging to use, so pay attention to these do's and don'ts to ensure that your message gets through and makes the best impression:

The Timing of Your Message

DO:

Send the message soon after the interview, preferably within the first 24 hours, even if the interview was on a Friday (send it as early as possible on Fridays). You don't want to be that last interviewee to send a thank you, in case other candidates are also smart enough to send thank you messages.

The Device Used to Send Your Thank You

DO:

  • Use your personal desktop or laptop computer to send this message.

DO NOT:

  • Use your smart phone to write and send this message. It is too easy for unintended changes to be made by the software when auto correction "fixes" the errors it finds. These kind of changes can make you look inept and unable to use something as simple as email.
  • If you are employed, DO NOT send this message from:

    • Your work computer.
    • While you are at work.

If employed and using your employer's equipment or network to send your message, your employer may discover the message and your intentions to leave. The result is that you could have a very uncomfortable discussion with your boss about your job search, or you could lose your job.

The Email Account Used to Send Your Thank You

DO:

  • Send the message from the email address used for your application and/or resume to help the employer "connect the dots" between your message and the interview. (Hopefully, for your application/resume, you used a personal email address associated with an account you check often.)

    Using the same email address on your application/resume should also increase the probability that your message will get through the employer's spam filters.
  • Sending the message from a Gmail address or one associated with your home Internet provider, like Comcast or Charter, is fine. Many colleges and universities also offer alumni the ability to use an @[whatever].edu address, which is also acceptable, especially for new grads

DO NOT:

  • If you are employed, DO NOT send this message from your work email address! You may think it is impressive, but it looks tacky and disloyal to other employers. As described above, using your work email system also increases the probability that your job search will be discovered which will not be good.
  • Use a silly address email address like MillieJMBA@, SurferDude1@, or other unprofessional address that will not connect with your application or resume.
  • Use @AOL, @Hotmail, @MSN, and @Yahoo -- those addresses look "old" to most recruiters now.
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The Thank You Email Subject Line

DO:

  • Make the purpose of your message clear with a formal subject line like the examples below. DO use the whole phrase "thank you" in the Subject and the message. Do NOT use the informal term "thanks." For example:

    • Subject: Thank you: [Job Title] interview on [date]
    • Subject: Thank you for the [Job Title] interview on [date]
    • Subject: Thank you for the [date] [Job Title] interview
    • Subject: [Job Title] interview on [date] thank you
    Replace the text above [in brackets] with the appropriate information for you.
  • Keep the subject line shorter than 75 characters, if possible. Many email systems show only the first 40 to 50 characters, so keep that in mind when you write your subject.

DO NOT:

  • Try to be casual or informal by using a subject such as "Hi!' or "Greetings!" These subjects have two major problems:

    1. They don't look professional.
    2. They are often caught in spam filters and never seen by a human.

The Thank You Email Communications Style

DO:

  • Use formal business language.
  • Proofread very carefully!

DO NOT:

  • Use unprofessional or informal language.
  • No emoticons :-( and no texting language (LOL).

Remember the employer will view this message as a sample of your work.

The Thank You Email Message Length

DO:

  • Keep the message short, not more than 4 to 6 brief paragraphs, AND --

    • If something you said seemed to resonate with that interviewer -- perhaps something you shared about one of your achievements or information you learned about one of their competitors -- include a brief statement related to that topic into your message.
    • If you "connected" with the interviewer about something, from sports, schools, or a passion for recycling to movies, music, or an interest in sports cars, insert a reference to that connection in your thank you note to help the interviewer remember you.
    • Highlight any strength or qualification you have that was emphasized in the job description and/or the interview, particularly if you don't think the interviewer understood your strength in that area.
  • Try to include something memorable from the interview to help the interviewer remember you.
  • Demonstrate your skill in business communications by writing a note as you would email a potential customer or client.

DO NOT:

  • Write a short, informal note which makes no "connection" with the interviewer.

The Content of Your Message

DO:

  • Send a separate, relatively unique message to each person who interviewed you. Since messages are very easy to forward, expect that your message to Interviewer A may be shared (and compared) with Interviewer B and C, as well as with HR and possibly upper management.
  • Vary the wording, but keep the over all theme (you are qualified and enthusiastic about joining the organization), the subject, the closing, and the timing consistent.

DO NOT:

  • Try to be cute or funny.
  • CC: or TO: everyone who interviewed you on a single message

Thank You Message Closing

DO:

  • Use a formal closing including your full name, job title or expertise, your contact phone number, and a link to your LinkedIn Profile.

DO NOT:

Close informally with language like --

See you soon!
MJ

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Bottom Line

Read sample thank you email to see how they they look. Take great care with these thank you notes. Even though they are email, they are important examples of the quality of your work, your follow up skills, and your expertise sending effective email. All of those are important points to make with a potential employer.

More About Interview Thank You Notes

[More: The Waiting Game After the Interview by recruiter Jeff Lipschultz and Job-Hunt's 2017 study, Job Seekers: What Happens After You Apply.]


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.