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) and former CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of T160K.org, a crowdfunding platform focused on African patrimony, heritage and cultural projects. INALJ was founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard. Its 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. INALJ has had over 21 Million page hits and helped many, many thousands of librarians 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 one month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this with many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 and 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro and many other publications in the past decade. She presents whenever she can, including serving on three panels at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Las Vegas; as breakout presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa; as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting; at the National Press Club in Washington DC; McGill University in Montreal, Canada; the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has been living and working in Budapest, Hungary and Western New York State. She spent years running her husband’s moving labor website, fixed and sold old houses and assisted her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food. She is preparing to re-enter the workforce and is job hunting. Her husband is now the co-editor of INALJ, a true support!  She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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