7 Tips About the All-Important Thank You

by Alexis Stapp, former Head Editor, INALJ Minnesota
previously published 3/18/13

7 Tips About the All-Important Thank You

alexissThank you notes always seem like such a chore, don’t they?  Aside from the tediousness factor, sometimes they can make us feel downright dishonest (“Dear Aunt Suzy, Thank you for the beautiful sweater you knitted for me”…).  The temptation to skip them can be powerful.

However, if you aren’t writing thank you notes after your interviews, you could be doing yourself a disservice when it comes to hiring decision time.  Thank yous are a very simple, very classy way to follow up after an interview.  It sends the message that you appreciated your interviewer’s time, gives you a chance to re-state your interest in the job, and possibly sets you apart from the rest of the pack.

What are the components of a good thank you?  Does it have to be written on handcrafted letterpress stationery and mailed?  Will a more casual e-mail suffice?  Here are some tips on writing thank yous:

1.        Mail or e-mail?  This is completely up to the individual but general rule of thumb is handwritten thank you notes if you have the time i.e. the hiring committee won’t be making their decision tomorrow!  E -mail if you’re a little shorter on time or after a phone interview.  Whatever you opt for, make sure you keep it somewhat formal – it’s all too easy to slip into a casual tone in an e-mail.
2.       Start out with the thank you!  Get that part out of the way so the purpose of the note is clear from the outset.  Thank the interviewer for his or her time.  If you spoke with a committee, make sure to send each person a note, even if one person on that committee would be your boss.  The other interviewers also gave their time and are just as worthy of your gratitude, but make sure you don’t send cookie cutter notes.  Try to tailor it to the individual where possible.
3.       Remind the interviewer again of your strengths/qualities/skills/experiences that make you a particularly good fit for the job.  This can also be the time to strengthen a weak answer or build on an answer where you may have run out of time.
4.       If you can, tie back to something discussed and say how you look forward to continuing the discussion, whether it was a question you were asked or a conversation you had before or after the interview.
5.       Thank them again and let them know when you’ll follow up on the position (but only if you’re actually going to do it).
6.       Be sincere.  Be honest.  Be brief.  This person probably has a lot going on and while he or she will appreciate your note, they probably won’t appreciate a two-page flowery letter singing their and the library’s praises.
7.       Send a thank you even if you don’t think it’s a good fit for you.  Yep, send a thank you even if you don’t want the job (hey, it happens!).  Be polite, thank them for their time, and set a good precedent.  Maybe you won’t work for this person now but you might run into them again at some point in your career.

For more information on writing thank yous, check out these resources:

 

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 18.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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  2 comments for “7 Tips About the All-Important Thank You

  1. Colleen
    May 8, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I understand the general concepts here, but does anyone have examples of thank you notes that they have written, or have received?

  2. May 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Naomi, this is great advice. I don’t quite agree about #3, remind the interviewer of your strengths — my concern is that this might undercut the sincerity of your thank you, or sound like you’re trying to “re-litigate” the interview — but that just underscores the fact that there’s no right way to communicate!

    People need to trust their own instincts and judgment, and if you’re treating the other person with respect, you can’t really go wrong.

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