After the Interview: Writing Thank You Notes

Writing thank you notes goes beyond the handmade card you sent to a relative after receiving a gift. While that relative would most likely love to hear from you, thank you notes are an important part of the application/interview process, whether for jobs, internships, scholarships, or academic pursuits.

General Tips

  • Write and send thank you notes to each member of the interview committee within 24-hours of your interview.
  • Each thank you note should address the recipient formally, thank them for their time, and restate your interest in the position.
  • Thank you notes may be sent via email or snail mail. Following a job interview, timing may be of the essence. Your thank you note via email will show that you are keenly interested in the position and pay attention to details.
  • Thank you notes should be brief; however, you may find you have a compelling question to ask the recipient or a follow-up comment to make regarding something discussed during your interview. These should regard interview substance, not matters related to the job (do not address issues such as salary, hours, dress code, work location, or start date in the thank you note. Save these queries for when you’re offered the position).
  • Write thank you notes to anyone who has served as a reference for you after each time they may have been contacted by potential employers or colleges. These notes may be handwritten and sent via snail mail rather than email. It is nice to check in with references regularly over the years – you never know when you’ll need to list that person as a reference down the road.

Specific Guidelines

  • Formal greeting – for members of the interview committee use Dear First Name Last Name or title and last name
  • Begin with thank you. Your purpose is simply to write a thank you note. Lead with that (not I am writing to thank you … nor I want to thank you …).
  • Keep it short. This is neither the time to summarize your credentials nor add to your application. It is appropriate to complete an idea to a question asked in the interview or ask a question of your own. Be sure to put your idea in positive tones (not I forgot to say but I’d like to add … ). If you ask a question, make sure it’s specific to the person you’re asking, not a general question about the position you’re up for. Be prepared for the person not to respond (although they might!).
  • Complimentary close – It’s fine to end with something like, I look forward to hearing from you. Then sign off with a word or phrase that feels comfortable to you (Sincerely, Very truly yours, Best wishes) and your full name.
  • If you are writing via snail mail following an interview, follow business letter writing protocols, type your message, print it on high quality paper, and send it in a #10-size business envelope, clearly addressed. See an example in the CLS handout “Writing Cover Letters.”