By Brian Mitchell, Managing Partner & CEO.
I recently had a situation where a 20+ year executive interviewing for a C-level role failed to send the interviewing CEO a “thank you” note at any point following the meeting. This is a compelling role at a cool company with aggressive compensation so it’s attracting a highly competitive candidate pool of qualified executives. Every bit of edge, whether it’s just keeping pace with the candidate pool or inching ahead, is critical to advancing in the process. Oddly, the candidate did follow up with me expressing interest and enthusiasm and whereas I appreciated the courtesy, I’m merely an influencer and not the decision-maker. It’s not “old school” to send the interviewer a follow up email thanking them for their time and expressing interest in next steps. It’s business 101, it’s sales 101, it’s career management 101…..everyone needs an A in these classes! This is one of those things in life that “goes without saying” yet I saw a stat on Monster.com that only 26% of interviewees actually send follow up notes from their interviewers. Monster.com is not exactly the place to go to for executive level roles, but it’s a stunning statistic and if even if it’s 50%, it seems woefully low. So I got to thinking, why is it important? And what makes a good thank you note work?
Why It’s Important
- It’s common courtesy and a reflection of respect for the interviewer’s time.
- It demonstrates attention to detail, professionalism, and self-advocacy.
- A quality follow up note gets socialized within the interviewer pool, creating additional positive impressions, very possibly even before you meet them.
- With substance, it’s an opportunity to separate yourself with a quality effort to advance in the process.
- For anyone even mildly interested in next steps, this is a method to keep it alive.
- It’s expected and it’s noticeable when you DON’T do it……why wouldn’t you do it???
What Makes an Effective Thank You Note
- Send it right away via email – that night or the next day at the latest. Delays beyond the next day suggest it’s not important.
- Be concise. As a general rule, if they need to scroll down it’s too long. Cover: 1) thank you for your time, 2) I’m impressed with your business, 3) I’m interested/qualified in your opportunity, 4) I’m looking forward to advancing in the process.
- If you want to include CV or bio or some other information, it’s optimal if you can include easily accessible links….the less clunk the better.
- Take the time to send individual notes, it demonstrates sincere interest and individual courtesy. Customize/vary some of the message content per individual.
- Don’t send an email ‘on the run’ from your phone. Take the time to send an appropriate email with appropriate signature information. Don’t send it from LinkedIn or Facebook. Don’t text it. Simply put – don’t half ass it.
- Depending on how traditional your interviewer is, it “might” be most effective to send a handwritten note via snail mail (instead OR in addition to). Nobody does it anymore and it’s a way to stand out. It also take a little more time to be mailed which risks a sooner follow up impression. This is a situational choice.
- For God’s sake, use spellcheck! And scrutinize (or have someone else proofread) for grammatical correctness as well. Nothing demonstrates a lack of attention to detail like a lack of attention to detail.
- Don’t be too casual or jokey. Don’t assume anyone will interpret sarcasm. Don’t include memes, graphics, or generally irrelevant information. Less is often more.
- Lastly, don’t be a stalker. They got your note, you don’t need to email them again 48 hours later confirming they received it. Let it breathe. You don’t want to appear over-eager or desperate…..or you’re out.
Yes, I know some of you are reading this thinking “of course, I always take time to send an appropriate follow up note”, however the stats suggest plenty of people cut this corner at their own peril. Even if you don’t want to advance in the process, a courtesy note is the right way to go and one never knows how that might be of benefit at some future point. Impressions count.