The general perception about the hiring process is that your control over it ends with the interview. However, sending a follow-up email after an interview is a great way to affirm your interest in the job, highlight your skills and strengths, and compensate for any mistakes you made during the interview.
Quick side note: In my 13 years of coaching candidates for interviews, I have found that the candidates that make the fewest mistakes are those that are confident about the story portrayed in their resume. If your resume is doing you injustice, you’ll get grilled and you’ll mess up. To make sure you’re starting off the interview on the right foot, make sure your resume doesn’t draw attention to red flags in your candidacy. If this is something you need help with, sign up below to download my offer-doubling resume cheat sheet:
Alright, let’s pretend you didn’t have my resume cheat sheet and your interview had a few speed bumps. Maybe you forgot to talk about something that could have really helped your case. Or maybe you said something incorrect. Now what? A swift follow-up email might help you salvage your candidacy if it was on precarious footing otherwise.
You should write an interview follow-up email within one day of interviewing. However, I believe most people do it wrong. Instead of using this opportunity to further build on the authority they developed when interviewing, they simply write a note that says “Hi! Look at me! I’m right here! Please don’t forget that I exist! I need this job!”
There are a few things you need to keep in mind before you make the decision to send out a follow-up email to correct a mistake you made during the interview:
- You have to be absolutely certain about the mistake you made. Even if there’s the slightest of doubt that you did not make a mistake, you’re better off without mentioning it in the thank-you note.
- Once you have pinpointed the mistake, figure out its importance. Is it a mistake you can do without correcting, or is it something unconditionally important to the job? For instance, if you forgot to mention that you’re willing to relocate for a job in another state, mentioning it in the thank-you note is a necessity.
- Add value to the note by including new information for the recruiter. If it’s just an apology for a mistake you made, you might as well skip it. There’s no need to keep drawing attention to whatever mistake you made. Being late, for instance, is a grave interview mistake, but repeatedly apologizing for it is not the way to go; instead, just focus on wowing them with your interview answers.
Interview Follow-Up Email Fundamentals
When you’re writing your note, you should follow some thank-you note fundamentals:
- Send the note as soon as possible because the information is likely critical to the hiring decision.
- Do not forget to express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time for the meeting.
- Include a couple of reasons why you’re interested in the job.
- Do not get too apologetic! For example, if you start your note with “I am deeply and utterly, sincerely apologetic for completely forgetting to mention…,” it will only draw attention to your mistake instead of the value you bring to the table as a candidate.
- Proofread! Double/triple check the note for typos and grammar mistakes. You do not want to end up making another mistake.
- Keep your thank-you note short and sweet.
Here’s a thank-you note template that you can use if you came across like you didn’t have complete mastery over a topic.
Interview Follow-Up Email Template
Subject: Thank you for your time yesterday!
Dear [Interviewer’s name],
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me regarding the [position name]. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn your company and talk about [most important topic discussed during the interview].
Our discussion during the interview got me thinking about [some specific challenge/problem] and [how it can be addressed/your viewpoint].
In fact, I recently completed [a certification/internship/project/volunteer experience] that I forgot to mention during the interview. This experience provided me with a unique insight on tacking [some specific problem/challenge that was discussed during the interview]. I’d be honored to apply some of these principles to [achieve some result/take your department to the next level].
Our discussion during the interview got me thinking about [some specific challenge/problem] and [how it can be addressed]. I learned a lot about it through [some related industry projects/data/new information] and I’d love to apply my knowledge where it matters.
My exposure during my previous role with respect to [a specific achievement related to the job] has me equipped with the right tools to help your company win.
If you have any questions or would like to know more about my stance on [upcoming challenges for the company], feel free to contact me. I have attached the details regarding [any new information as mentioned above]. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Thank you once again for the opportunity, [recruiter’s name].
Interview Follow-Up Email Bad Example
A client of mine shared the following interview follow-up email that she sent, which I didn’t really like:
Good afternoon, Jeanette,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday about the staff writer position with Business News Daily.
After our conversation, I am confident that my skills and experiences are a great match for this opportunity. As we discussed, I believe my background in pitching and interviewing and my ability to manage an editorial calendar will serve me well in tracking down great stories for Business News Daily.
I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of joining the BND team and would greatly appreciate a follow-up as you move forward with the hiring process. Thanks again, and I hope to hear from you in the near future.
The reason I don’t like this interview follow-up email is that it’s “selfish.” In other words, it focuses primarily on how Business News Daily will benefit Nicole instead of on how Nicole would benefit Business News Daily. There is one weak exception, in the second paragraph, but it’s too vague and generic to really stick out in the reader’s mind.
A good thank-you note brings value to the reader and continues the conversation you had. In your interview, Trevor, you talked about an online magazine launch, among other goals. A sure-fire way to getting that job is to create an outline of the processes you would implement as Head Editor to get lots of online views. Introduce new ideas that weren’t brought up in the interview.
Below is a much better way to send the same note:
Interview Follow-Up Email Example
Good afternoon, Jeanette,
It was a pleasure speaking to you today about taking Lifestyle Weekly online to boost overall readership. Our conversation really got me thinking about the New York Times, and the steps they have taken to boost their online readership. While both Lifestyle Weekly and the New York Times have different goals and models, I learned a lot simply by studying how they nurtured such a strong readership online without hurting their physical news presence. To balance out my findings, I also studied Cosmopolitan. I spoke to connections at both to develop a stronger understanding of the challenges they faced when making this transition.
I gathered my findings into a brief report, attached below. I hope you find it useful.
If the report warrants another conversation, I am free on Friday after 2 PM and can step by for a brief chat.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
My Warmest Regards,
While writing a thank-you note the second way will take a bit more time, the results will be worth it. You will stand out from the other applicants by a mile because you’re showing that you’re:
a. great at solving problems.
b. invested in the company.
c. paying attention to what’s going on in your industry.
The rule of thumb here is to create a resource that addresses one of the problems you discussed when interviewing.
Following up after an interview is a crucial part of the job search and if constructed skillfully, it can increase your chances significantly – a recent CareerBuilder survey suggests that 91% of recruiters expect a thank-you note, but only 57% of candidates actually send one. Even if the follow-ups don’t cement your candidacy, they can be a great way to establish relationships, which can go a long way beyond the current opportunity you’re looking at.
Just make sure you use sound judgment and level-headedness before jumping to conclusions about mistakes in the interview. While the thank-you note is an excellent way of doing damage control, sometimes, damage control is not needed and you might end up making the wrong decision because of the tendency to be self-critical after interviews.
However, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Even the best notes can’t fix a completely blundered interview. If you feel like the way you represent yourself in interviews is not doing you justice at all, download my resume cheat sheet here to make sure you’re starting off on the right foot:
Here are some other things you might be interested in checking out:
- Our one-on-one interview coaching service OR you can use this link to schedule a free consultation to see if our interview coaching service is a good fit for you.
- How to Interview as a Career Changer
- Here Are The Best Answers To Tough Interview Questions