12. 07. 2018

How to write brilliant interview follow-up notes

Are ‘thank you’ notes after interviews and outdated concept? Far from it. They can have a big impact and give candidates a leading edge in tight selection processes. Here’s a guide to make sure yours hits the mark.

Have you ever written a follow-up note after an interview?

Many people haven’t.

Some candidates feel it’s being pushy to email the interviewer straight after their meeting.

Other people think the whole concept of a ‘thank you’ note is something you’re more likely to do when someone gifts you a toaster as a wedding present…

However, from our experience at Adaptive Digital recruiting for both mid-level and senior roles across the digital marketing industry, follow-up notes can be a big opportunity for job-seekers to advance their candidacy and gain the upper hand over their competition.

Your bonus interview round

The value of a follow-up note depends on how you think about it.

If you approach it as a tedious formality, thanking the interviewer for their time and “looking forward to next steps”, then the outcome is unlikely to move the needle.

Think about this instead: what if you had a bonus round as part of your interview process, one that other candidates didn’t get?

Imagine that after the hiring manager has finished all their interviews, you can go back into their office for a private 1-1 meeting…

No rigid interview format, no tests or interrogation, no time pressure.

That’s your follow-up note – your bonus round.

The right way to think about follow-ups

What this in mind, let’s have a quick look at exactly what role follow-up notes should play in an interview process.

Effective thank you notes are NOT:

  • A formality that can be dashed out in 30 seconds, just to tick a box

  • Something which can be copied and pasted from one company to the next

Effective thank you notes ARE:

  • An extension of the interview process

  • An opportunity to address any pending topics from the live conversation

  • A chance to gain an advantage over other candidates

  • A platform to show initiative, professionalism, interest and commitment

  • A natural segue into the next round of discussions

Hiring managers know this too – they’re seeing you in action outside of the fixed interview steps. They learn more about you – your correspondence style, your timing, your communication, how you’re visualizing the role and your relationship-building skills.

It’s a golden opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

Five ways to write effective post-interview follow-up notes:

  1. Be genuine

If your note is filled with business jargon and empty platitudes, you might as well not send it. Sitting down to write what you think the hiring manager wants to read is not going to work.

If you’re excited about the opportunity and think you’re a fit, let that sentiment take center stage and the note will have a much more authentic feel to it.

Be professional, but be real.

  1. Be specific

Before you send your note, read it back and ask yourself “could this have been written for another company or another role?”

If the answer is yes, it’s not specific enough.

Effective notes will be based on the conversations with the hiring manager, the business problems and opportunities that the company faces. The current team, the tools they use, their customers…

Work hard to connect those unique elements and make sure your note reads personally and specifically for the recipient.

  1. Take the initiative

Thank you notes are a great chance to show you can do more than just follow the flow of an interview process.

If it’s appropriate, you can address any points of the interview where you felt you didn’t shine, or any aspects of your experience that may not meet the job requirements 100%.

On a more positive note, you can suggest aspects of the role or company you’re looking forward to learning more about, or comment on any additional reading or research you’ve done since the meeting.

  1. Include others

If there is more than one person involved in the hiring process, try to make sure your message reaches them all.

If you don’t have their direct contact information, mention them in your note and ask that it be forwarded to them.

Remember, this is your ticket to the next round of interviews, and if you’ve reinforced your candidacy effectively then you want as many people as possible to be notified.

  1. Sell your solution

Crucially, your note should close with a detailed statement explaining how hiring you will help the manager and help the business.

There’s nothing wrong with “looking forward to being part of the team”, but if that’s all you’re offering then you’re not giving the hiring manager much incentive to pick you over someone else.

A really brilliant note should sign off with a compelling picture showing the positive impact you’ll make if you get the job.

* * *

Putting it all together, an effective thank you note should help you to stand out from the pack as a serious, professional candidate with a strong, business-driven interest in the specific role.

Good luck!

And if you have additional tips and advice for digital industry peers, we’d love to hear them below.