Send a Thank-You After the Job Interview?

A thank-you card with an envelope and a hand holding a pencil.You’ve just finished that big job interview.  Things seem to have gone really well and you’re feeling good about it. You think you nailed all their questions. The interviewers appeared to like you and were upbeat. Now, more than ever, you really want to work there. Suddenly, a thought pops into your head: should I send thank-you notes to the interviewers?

Good question!

You will likely hear two points of view on this question from friends and colleagues.  The first says sending a thank-you note is old-school, outdated, and makes you look old-fashioned.   The other says interviewers expect such notes and failing to send one can negatively impact their hiring decision. Which way do you go?

What Do the Professionals Say?

According to an article on the well-known job hunting website Monster.com, “Sending a thank-you note after an interview should be an important part of any job-hunting strategy. Whether or not you send a thank-you note could actually determine if you get the job.”  Alex Cavoulacos, in an article on TheMuse, states, “…most hiring managers pay very close attention to how well (and how rapidly) you write a thank you note.” She goes on to say, “Your thank you note sets the tone as your first interview follow-up. So, whatever you do: Don’t skip it.”

Alison Doyle, in a thebalancecareers post writes, “Why are thank-you letters important? The first reason to send a thank-you letter is that it’s just plain, good manners. But there’s also a self-serving purpose: a thank-you note is your opportunity to get your name in front of people one last time and leave a positive impression.”

Sure, you can find forums online where people bash the idea of sending thank-you notes. However, I have not yet found a professional manager or HR person who actively discourages them. In fact, according to the Monster.com article cited earlier, “…80% of HR managers say thank-you notes are helpful when reviewing candidates.”

Let’s Look at the Issue Logically

Personally, whether or not I received a thank-you note never had a major impact on my hiring decisions.   But then again, I’m not everyone. However, for some hiring managers, failing to receive a thank-you note from you may be a really big deal.  You the applicant, of course, have no way of knowing which way the person making the decision leans. So, let’s look at the situation in a logical and pragmatic way.

  • In the event the manager expects a thank-you note, if you send one, your bases are covered.
  • The manager may not care either way about receiving a thank-you note. If so, you lose nothing by sending one.
  • Some of your competitors – the other candidates – may have sent notes and you certainly don’t want to make yourself look less polite or professional! According to the Monster.com article cited previously, “…only 24% of HR managers receive thank-you notes from applicants.” Think of it this way: sending a note gives you the chance to look better than the other 76%!
  • Of course, there is always a chance the hiring manager may dislike thank-you notes.

What about that last point? Sure, there may be the occasional quirky hiring manager who really thinks sending thank-you notes is a sign of an old mindset and actually holds it against applicants. However, realistically, I think such people are few and far between.  Plus, based on the articles cited above, the online experts would seem to agree with me on that point.

This sounds like a risk-versus-benefit decision.  Here’s my conclusion:

The potential benefit gained by sending a thank-you note
outweighs the risk of making the recipient unhappy.

Would you agree?

The Exception

The exception to this conclusion is if you write a really bad thank-you note.  The goal is to improve your chances of getting hired, not spoil the good impression you may have already made during the job interview!  A note with poor wording, bad grammar, etc. will definitely work against you. This true regardless of how the interviewer may feel about thank-you notes. Therefore, write your note every bit as professionally as your cover letter, resume, and other materials.

What Should It Say?

Keep the note fairly short.  This is NOT the time to include a lengthy discussion of your skills or experience, or to try and repair any mistakes you may have made during the interview.  It’s too late for that; you already had your shot.  There are four basic things you should convey in your communication:

  • Thank them for the interview
  • Reiterate that you are a good fit for the position
  • Indicate that the interview enhanced your interest in the job
  • Tell them you look forward to the next step in the hiring process

Regarding the “good fit” statement, go easy on this point and don’t overdo it.  Some of the most ridiculous notes I ever read were from minimally qualified individuals with little or no experience who arrogantly tried to paint themselves as rock stars in their field.

There are numerous websites online with examples of thank-you notes. Do a search and look at several of them. One such site with sample notes is is CareerSidekick.com.  Use a format which is consistent with your personal style, uses good common sense, and sounds professional.  Do not just copy and paste the text!  Avoid sounding like a form letter by rewriting it to suit your style. Use your own words and tailor the message to the job where possible.

Email or Snail Mail?

OK, so you decided to send a thank-you note. Now, you are debating whether to send it electronically via email or mail a physical note card or letter through the post office.

Since the majority of business communication is now by email, it seems to be the norm.  The Monster.com article cited above indicated that a survey found “94% of HR managers say it’s appropriate to send a thank-you note via email, as most (65%) of the thank-yous they receive are sent by email.” If you decide to send your note by email, you’re in good company.

Pamela Skillings, in her article How to Write an Interview Thank You Email on BigInterview.com, offers an interesting perspective about the use of email. She writes, “Be sure to steer clear of odd hours of the night. If the interviewer even manages to find your email buried in memos and junk mail, it may seem strange that you were up at 3am.”  I think she’s on to something here.  I have heard day-shift people comment about emails they received which were created in the middle of the night. Generally, they seem to think it’s a bit weird.

Another factor in this decision is time.  I often received thank-you notes in the U.S. mail several days after the hiring decision was already made and another applicant had accepted the position!  One of the “any questions for us?” you should ask during the job interview is about the hiring time frame.  (Be sure to read our Career Lantern article Questions to Ask and Not Ask on a Job Interview.)  When the hiring decision will be made shortly, definitely use email. However, regardless of which method you decide to use, write your note and send or mail it the same day as the interview.

Hand-written or typed?

Send a hand-written thank-you note if you feel a more personal approach would be appropriate. However, only do this if your writing or printing is exceptionally nice and very legible. An unreadable, hand-scrawled note reflects poorly on you and simply defeats your entire purpose for sending one in the first place. If your normal handwriting looks like something a doctor scribbled on a prescription slip, by all means type it!

Where and to Whom Do I Send It?

The last thing you want to do is send your note to the wrong address, whether email or U.S. mail. Also, you certainly don’t want to offend the recipient by getting his or her name and/or title wrong! How do you avoid doing this?

  • The best – and easiest – way is to simply ask the interviewers for their business cards when they make their introductions. This is very common. In fact, many interviewers expect to be asked and will have cards ready for you.
  • Sometimes, for a whole host of valid reasons, the interviewers may not have business cards available. In this case, be sure to write down the names as best you can. Then, check with the secretary, receptionist, or your initial contact person for the needed information right after the interview. They likely either know the answer or have access to an internal, non-public company directory.
  • As a last resort, check the company website for an organizational chart or employee directory. However, this may be the least reliable method for several reasons.  The needed information may not even be on the website.  There may be several persons listed with the same name. Also, websites are often not updated regularly.

Just in case you are wondering, yes, send a separate email or note to each individual interviewer.  Sending a group email or card doesn’t cut it.  A multiple-recipient thank-you is less personal and makes you look like you didn’t even respect the interviewers enough to bother writing individual notes.

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Featured image courtesy of GingerQuip/pixabay.com

Squeamish About a Career in Healthcare?

A tabletop with various medical instruments and items laid out.While I have worked in various unrelated fields, much of my time was spent in healthcare.  So, it’s natural for me to ask job seekers if they have ever thought about pursuing a career related to healthcare. When I do ask, people will often give me a funny look and say healthcare is just not for them.  Why? Usually, they say it is because they are squeamish about blood, needles, being around sick people, or other such things often associated with the field. Does this sound like you?

If so, let me assure you there are MANY jobs in healthcare which do not involve blood, needles, and so forth.  Heck, with many positions, you may rarely even see a patient! Given this, why exclude yourself from a career field which is growing and can offer great income potential?  In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs in healthcare will grow 18% from 2016 to 2026.  This is much faster than the average for all occupations and represents about 2.4 million new jobs.  The BLS goes on to say this growth is due to an aging population, leading to a greater demand for healthcare services.

Where’s the Big Bucks?

After reading the BLS data, you might be thinking, “Most of these higher-paying jobs are in direct patient care fields.  I don’t want to work directly with patients!”  You’re right. Most of the best paying jobs are, of course, in direct patient care.  Why?  Because these are high-demand, hard-to-fill positions in the core business of healthcare: treating and caring for patients.  Plus, don’t forget, the work these folks do is often “billable” in some way.

Like it or not, healthcare today very much involves money. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that jobs which directly generate revenue are likely going to pay more than those which do not.  You have your reasons, but if you still decide to exclude yourself from the direct care group, that’s OK.  After all, as healthcare is growing, the need for the support positions will grow as well.  You can still get in on the healthcare employment boom, even without being in direct patient care.

Sure, some of these positions, especially at the entry level, may not pay as well as the clinical jobs.  However, these positions can open the door to a career path in which your income will improve as you advance to higher levels or into management.  You can have a real career, not just a job.

Amount of Patient Contact

Let’s take a look at some jobs from the viewpoint of how much direct patient care is involved.  For example, a nurse obviously has to have close contact with patients.  However, a person who works in the billing department may never even see a patient.  In fact, the billing person may work in an office building miles away from the hospital or medical office.

Every medical office, clinic, hospital, etc. is different, and no one can guarantee you will never see a patient.  For example, a billing person may have to sometimes attend business meetings in the hospital.  In that case, it’s possible to run into a patient in the hallway or on an elevator.  Would that really be so bad?  I suppose if you truly faint at even the sight of a Band-Aid®, then maybe healthcare isn’t right for you.

However, if you have a more realistic and reasonable goal of just minimizing patient contact and mainly avoiding the “blood and guts” stuff, there are still definitely jobs for you! Lots of them.

Types of Non-Clinical Jobs

There are many non-clinical positions in healthcare which can provide excellent employment opportunities.  Do you like working with computers?  Healthcare involves numerous IT systems; everything from small office systems to multi-hospital networks and systems.  Many trades positions (electricians, plumbers, painters, HVAC, carpenters, etc.) are needed to keep a hospital operating properly and safely.

Office-type positions abound as well.  Organizations need talented administrative assistants, accountants, human resources staff, and others. Communications professionals perform public relations and print/online media work.  Risk management is an important legal field and many organizations have their own in-house lawyers. Health information technicians (medical records) are needed to manage the huge number of both physical paper and electronic files. Hospital administrators are often at the top of the pay scale and oversee the operations of entire medical centers.  The list goes on and on.

Take a Look

Before writing off the healthcare field as not for you, at least take a look.  You might be surprised to find there are many opportunities in your area of interest.

Most of all, consider the rewards.  No, not just the pay, but the satisfaction that the work you do really helps people and the community.  For many in the normal workplace, doing their jobs well just means they’ve made more profit for the business owner or stockholders.  In healthcare, even in many non-clinical positions, a job well done means you’ve made a difference.  Someone is better off because of the work you do.

That’s a sense of satisfaction and a great feeling that’s hard to beat!

 

Agree? Disagree? Share your experience or thoughts?
Click “Leave a Comment” at the top right of this post (or at the bottom on 
some mobile apps).

Featured image courtesy of Sergio Santos – flickr  and http://nursingschoolsnearme.com