Never Waste A Thank You Letter Saying Thank You

After an interview, sending a “Thank You” letter is common etiquette and a nice thing to do, but saying “thank you” should not be the main reason for sending it. Most candidates send one after interviewing with a company, but as a recruiter, I rarely receive one. I personally don’t need one, but on the occasions when I have received one, I think the candidate misses a great opportunity by just saying, “Thank you for the interview.”

I believe a good “Thank You” letter should be used to reinforce your ability to do the job and/or address any potential issues that came up during the interview. It can be another marketing document. It is important not to over do it, but a tactful letter, that does some subtle marketing can have a big impact on the person reading it.

For example, a few years ago a candidate called me after an interview and said, “I think I blew the interview.” The CEO asked me, ‘What my career plan is for taking this position?’ I answered how over the next few years I would impact my department and how that would impact the company. The CEO responded, “That is fine, but we really want people that want to grow and maybe some day have my job.” The candidate asked me what would be the best way to recover from this or if there was a way to recover. The answer was the, “Thank You” letter.

A carefully worded, “Thank You” letter explained to the CEO that the candidate interpreted the question as asking for the short term impact he would have once on board. He went on to explain, in the “Thank You” letter, that certainly in the long-term his desire was definitely to advance, but he realized that was dependent upon him doing an exceptional job in the role he was being hired to fill, hence the reason for answering the question as he did.

The candidate had the opportunity to address a miscommunication during the interview, which is a common problem with interviews. Ultimately, the candidate did get the job. Would he have gotten it anyway? Hard to tell. One thing is certain, the candidate didn’t think he would have.

Some other basic issues regarding a “Thank You” letter:

  • One page maximum
  • Send shortly after the interview
  • Not an email (with the possible exception of IT professionals)
  • Addressed to a specific person, not “Dear Interviewer” or salutation left blank
  • Individualized to the particular interview, personalized to the specific topic
  • Do not use a generic one-size-fits-all thank you letter

Consider using this as one more chance to market yourself. Don’t over do it. This is not the time for a hard sell. It must be subtle and tactful. It won’t work all the time, but hopefully as in the example, it will work the one time you really need it.

Download a FREE sample Thank You letter along with some Do’s and Don’ts for Thank You letters. CLICK HERE to get yours.

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We encourage comments and your feedback.

Brad Remillard


About the Author

Brad Remillard is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Brad is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  • By Richard Blackburn, February 22, 2010 @ 5:51 pm

    Brad – 100% right. It’s a huge opportunity to reinforce your message.
    I’ve used a ‘thank you’ email several times – always to reiterate my interest in the position, and usually recalling a snippet or two of the conversation which I thought was particularly compelling or interesting – both something I said and something they said. And, occasionally, also to clarify something or ‘fix’ an answer which may not have been my best.
    90% of the time I get a quick reply from the interviewer, saying ‘enjoyed meeting you too’ or something similar – but I know for that 10-15 seconds, I was ‘front of mind’.
    FYI – I also use them for informational interviews, in exactly the same way – to reinforce my appreciation and remind them (subtly) of their promises to make introductions, etc.

  • By Bruce Skinner, February 22, 2010 @ 11:41 pm


    I agree 100% with you and Richard, the thank you letter is to keep that “stream of consciousness” about you and your abilities going for just that little bit more.

    But, I’d like to know why we shouldn’t be sending it through email? I’m concerned with the fact that it may take days (and worse yet add a weekend in there) before the interviewer sees your thank you. And why only IT people?

    Again, thank you for your valuable post.


  • bradremillard

    By bradremillard, February 23, 2010 @ 11:30 am


    An email is not all the bad. I have changed somewhat since writing it. However, I question whether they actually read or just glanced at and then deleted.
    A letter shows more effort and will get read.

  • By Lynn M, February 24, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

    I agree with you. Even if the thank you not isn’t used as an opportunity to make a correction (per your example), it should be used as an opportunity for the candidate to stand out and be remembered. One way to do this is to remind the hiring manager about high points in the interview (“I enjoyed discussing how….”) and another way to do this is more of a side benefit of actually being sincerely thankful. Can you, as the candidate point out something specific you can thank the interviewer for? Perhaps he/she made you feel more at ease with a specific comment or gave you some good advice? Sincere appreciation always bounces back your way and you can use it in your career every day.

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