By Peter Post
The young woman suddenly raised her hand. I was giving a talk at the Penn Club in New York City. I had just mentioned the importance of writing a thank you note, and clearly I had struck a nerve.
“Have I got a story for you,” she offered. “I applied for a job and was one of three finalists. The other two were in-house candidates. I was surprised when I got the job, but I was even more surprised when my new boss asked me if I understood why I got the job. He explained that after the interview I wrote a note to each person on the interview committee, while the internal candidates had not.”
The importance of a thank you note simply cannot be overstated, and yet, while it is one of the most basic pieces of etiquette advice, it often is ignored, which can result in unfortunate consequences.
The note itself is simple to master: Three to five sentences does it. Keep it simple and sincere:
Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you for the sales position at ABC Corporation. I enjoyed talking with you, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Eberly. I was especially pleased to see your commitment to using Act to manage your client/prospect database as I am using Act in my current position. I would like to be able to put my experience to good use at ABC. I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.
The biggest controversy regarding thank you notes and notes in general is whether to handwrite them and send them via snail mail or to e-mail them. Previously, the rule of thumb was that snail mail was the best approach, as it was more personal. An e-mail might be received, read, and then deleted, while a physical letter is opened, read, and then might stay on the desk—a reminder of you—for hours or even days. The difference was: Would you rather be deleted or remembered? Today, it’s not quite so simple. E-mail is more immediate, even if it has a shorter lifespan. Some companies are more technology focused or committed to being paperless and their primary means of communicating is by e-mail. If you are writing to a person at such a company, sending an e-mail may be the most appropriate choice.
Thank You Tips
One Final Note
HR professionals, saying thank you is an important part of your job, as well. Once the selection process is complete and an offer has been accepted, please send a note to all the people who interviewed thanking them for applying and for their time coming in to interview.
Peter Post is a director of The Emily Post Institute (http://www.emilypost...), great-grandson of Emily Post, and co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business.” If you have business etiquette questions you’d like Post to answer either in an upcoming issue of Training magazine or in an online article, please e-mail them to Training magazine Editor-in-Chief Lorri Freifeld at email@example.com.