The short answer to the question, “Do I need to send a thank you letter after a job interview?” is Yes.
If you want the job, the thank you letter is another opportunity to sell yourself. Even if you don’t want the job, you still might want to write that letter. Keep reading to find out why.
Good manners are always appreciated and when the goal is to sell yourself, they may be what sets you apart from the competition. Further, a thank you letter gives you the opportunity to say, briefly, the things you wished you had said at the interview.
While the letter should not be long, it should restate your qualifications and explain why you are a good fit for both the job and the company. You should thank the recipient for taking the time to speak to you. The letter should be written in a friendly but somewhat formal tone and it goes without saying that the grammar and spelling should be impeccable. If you spoke to more than one person, send more than one thank you note; both are likely to have input into the decision about hiring you.
Here is an example:
Thank you Ms. Jones for taking the time to interview me for the administrative assistant position. I enjoyed meeting you and learning about XYZ company and was very excited when you told me that besides typing, filing, answering the phone and making travel arrangements, the position also included time for me to call prospects and develop them into customers. While I know Microsoft Office inside and out, and would be glad to teach any other members of your staff the advanced features or set up forms for office-wide use, I had not expected to get a chance to use the sales skills I developed during my high school summer job with the timeshare company. Thank you again for taking the time to speak to me and I hope to hear from you soon.
If you do not want the job, the thank you letter can help you network or can open other doors at the company.
Perhaps you left the interview thinking, “There is no way I want that job, or to work with those people!” Does that mean you can skip the thank you note? No; it just changes the purpose of the note.
Most people in a position to hire you know other people who are in a position to hire you and people talk. You want to be remembered as the person who was polite and who let them know early on that the job was not for you (if you are positive it is not). Needless to say, you should be as positive about their company and job as possible, particularly if you would like a different job at that company someday.
For example, you could say:
Thank you Ms. Jones for taking the time to interview me for the administrative assistant position. I enjoyed meeting you and learning about XYZ company. When I applied for the job I did not realize it required me to spend part of my workday as a telephone sales person, and frankly, that is not something I want to do. However, since XYZ sounds like just the kind of place at which I would like to work; if your company ever has need of a top-notch person to type, file, answer the phone and make travel arrangements, I would be interested in the job. Thank you again for speaking with me.
Or, if you don’t want to work for the company:
Thank you Ms. Jones for taking the time to interview me for the administrative assistant position. I enjoyed meeting you and learning about XYZ company. I hope you find the ideal candidate for the position; unfortunately, I am not it. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and wish you the best.
Thank you letters have not and will not go out of style. Always thank an interviewer for their time regardless of how you think the interview went or you are interested in the position. You never know when a little courtesy will get you what you want.