Job seekers should think of interviews more like dialogues and less like piano recitals.
That’s what Mike Manoske, career coach and co-author of The Job Search Manifesto, tells his clients.
“And the way you finish a good dialogue,” he continued, “is to send a thank you.”
Sending a “thank you” email to a hiring manager after an interview seems like a simple, straightforward task. After all, how complicated can writing a brief letter of gratitude to a new acquaintance possibly be?
More complicated than people think.
When you feel like a job offer is hanging in the balance, it’s easy to overthink every detail — from the subject line down to the sign-off.
So if you want to hit the “send” button with confidence, consider these tips. They just might make your thank-you email stand out among the crowd of fellow candidates.
Tips for Writing a ‘Thank You’ Email After an Interview
- Send it within 24 hours.
- Simplify the subject line.
- Keep it short and to the point.
- Summarize the interview highlights.
- Reinforce why you’re the right person for the job.
- Sound appreciative and excited.
- Don’t bring up interview mistakes.
- Sign off professionally.
Should I Send a ‘Thank You’ Email After an Interview?
Yes, you should send a thank-you email.
The post-interview thank-you email probably isn’t going to make or break your chances of getting a job. But you should probably send one anyway, as there’s more downside associated with foregoing the formality.
If you don’t send one, the hiring manager may notice and subsequently doubt your enthusiasm for the position, said career coach Kirsten Nelson. A polite follow-up might not cinch the job for you, but it at least shows that you want to work there.
There’s even more downside if you don’t send a thank-you email after having been interviewed for a customer-facing position, like a sales or customer success role. Hiring managers want to see candidates in these positions demonstrate initiative and follow-through, said Stephen Jensen, director of mid market at Motive.
“With sales, you want [to see a candidate’s] follow-through, you want to evaluate their forms of communication because it gives you some indication of how that candidate will be at your company in the role,” Jensen said. “You want to see those built-in best behaviors.”
There’s upside to sending a thank-you email as well. They help candidates stay top of mind with hiring managers, even after the interview process is over.
Shwetha Shankar, vice president of customer success at Tray.io, had once passed on a candidate for a role she was hiring for, but the person’s thank-you email stuck out to her. So when a better-fitting role opened up down the road, the thank-you emailer was the first person Shankar reached out to.
When to Send a ‘Thank You’ Email After an Interview
Nelson recommends sending the email within 24 hours.
Knowing when to write your thank-you email becomes just as important as the email itself — and sending it within a maximum of 24 hours is the ideal time-frame.
A prompt note shows that you’re responsive, a strong communicator with follow-through and that you’re excited about the role. If you wait two or three days to send it, though, the hiring manager might get a different impression of you — that you’re slow to respond or not too interested in the position.
That said, make sure you take enough time to put together a thoughtful message that doesn’t feel like a template you send after every interview.
Simplify Your ‘Thank You’ Email Subject Line
Keep your email subject line straight and to the point. Resist the urge to get clever or wordy, and reserve the meat of your message for the body of the email. Simple, streamlined subject lines work best for the occasion, according to career coach Wendy Saccuzzo.
Formal Subject Lines
Following an interview, especially the very first one, it’s usually best to keep your email tone formal. You’ll want to present the most professional side of yourself and reflect that you’re capable of traditional corporate communication.
A few examples of formal subject lines include:
- “Thank You for the Interview”
- “Thank You for Our Conversation”
- “Interview Follow-Up - Thank You”
Informal or Casual Subject Lines
If you have progressed further into the interview process or if the interview conversation presented itself as more casual, this can be reflected in your email and subject line. Being a bit more casual can indicate you have now formed a stronger bond with the interviewer, and reflect yourself as a comfortable and confident candidate.
It’s important to know the boundaries of what is deemed casual for the context of the interview and the company’s culture. Don’t let casual slip into too casual.
A few examples of casual subject lines, with suggested inspiration from Manoske, include:
- “Thanks for the Interview”
- “Thanks for the Conversation”
- “Appreciated Your Time Yesterday”
Keep Your ‘Thank You’ Email Short and to the Point
Hiring managers are busy, so much like subject lines, you want to make sure your thank-you email is quick and easy to read. So keep it brief — the career coaches interviewed for this article all said a few short paragraphs is a commonly prescribed length.
That said, make sure the reader can tell you put time and effort into the email. Even though it’s short, it shouldn’t read like it was dashed off as an afterthought.
You can still find ways to personalize your few paragraphs so it can stand out from others. Here’s just a few to start:
- Callback to highlights unique to you and the interviewer (“I appreciated you discussing…” or “I enjoyed learning more about…”).
- Reiterate how your personal skills would fit into the role.
- Emphasize your interest for the past conversation and future conversations, if applicable.
Summarize Interview Highlights
When it comes to the actual body content of the email, in addition to thanking the interviewer, you may want to focus on referencing two or three high points from the interview.
Mine your conversation for highlights by reflecting on these questions:
- Did the interviewer make an interesting point?
- Did something you discussed excite you?
- Did you learn something new about the role or company?
- Do you two have something interesting in common?
In your email, say you enjoyed learning about X. Or that you appreciate that the hiring manager shared Y. Or, when you heard them say Z, you became even more interested in the role.
Giving a couple quick highlights demonstrates you were an active, attentive participant in the conversation. Interviewers are looking for more than just the ability to do the job.
Reinforce Why You’re the Right Person for the Job
This might sound obvious, but it never hurts to use the thank-you email to connect your past experience to details about the role that came up in the interview. That said, be sure to keep this part short and sweet — no more than a sentence — and to reference what you already discussed in the interview.
Sound Appreciative and Excited
The tone of every post-interview thank-you email should be “appreciative and excited,” Jensen said.
Makes sense. A thank-you note that fails to properly convey the sender’s appreciation of the recipient is a pretty lousy one. So don’t play it cool or hard to get: Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you, and say you appreciated the conversation.
When Manoske coaches job seekers, he recommends they use the word “appreciate” throughout their email — to express their thankfulness for the hiring manager’s time.
You’ll want some excitement to be evident in your tone of voice, too. After all, you’re interested in the role, and you had a great conversation with the interviewer. Make sure they can sense your enthusiasm. Your note shouldn’t read like an overly formal robot wrote it or like this is the third follow-up email you wrote that day.
Be careful not to let your excitement veer into desperation though. Hiring managers don’t want to see candidates begging for a job.
After expressing appreciation for the interview, a few example statements you could follow with to show appropriate excitement include:
- “I look forward to learning more about the role.”
- “I look forward to speaking further with you.”
- “I’m excited to learn more about the opportunity.”
Don’t Bring Up Interview Mistakes
What about if you flubbed an answer in your interview? Is the thank-you email a place to explain yourself, clarify a mistake you made, or provide a better answer than the one you gave in the heat of the moment?
In most cases, you shouldn’t bring it up at all, experts say.
“Don’t remind an interviewer of negative aspects of an interview,” Jensen said. “Finish on a positive note.”
Manoske thinks it depends on the severity of the flub. He gave an example of a client of his who gave the interviewer an incorrect number (a number they both knew). In her follow-up email, she briefly mentioned, “I meant to say it’s X, not Y.”
“That was one word, and it was so obvious, you didn’t want to leave it out there,” Manoske said. “In general, I’m 80 percent in agreement with the idea of, if I flubbed one, I don’t want to bring it back.”
Sign Off Professionally
The final short paragraph of your thank-you email should cover a couple of things: Invite the interviewer to let you know if they have any further questions, and tell them you hope to stay in touch.
After that, it’s time for the sign-off, where it’s probably best you stick to one of several classic options:
- Best Regards
- Kind Regards
- Best Wishes
Experts are divided on the use of “Cheers” for closing out an email. Some think it’s fine. Others think it’s too casual for professional correspondence.
Some hiring managers find the first three above options overly formal, Manoske said. For that reason, he thinks closing out emails with a simple “Thanks” is probably the best choice.
Above all, Manoske cautions candidates not to get cute or clever in their sign-off, as a last-ditch effort to get the interviewer’s attention.
“I don’t like the ones [that say], ‘I hope you know I’m a badass candidate.’ You don’t need to do all the bro stuff.”
‘Thank You’ Email Examples
To help you get started, here are some samples of post-interview thank-you emails. Keep in mind that these are just starting points, though. You’ll want to add your own details and write with your own voice.
Formal and Short ‘Thank You’ Email for Interview
These samples are best for those following the first interview, and/or looking to keep it more formal and traditionally professional.
Subject: Thanks for the Interview
Thank you for your time yesterday. It was great connecting with you, and I appreciate the chance to learn more about the [job title] position.
Our conversation made me even more excited about the idea of joining your team. Especially because of what you said about A, B and C, and how that aligns with my experience doing X, Y and Z.
Let me know if you need any further information. Looking forward to hearing back from you on Thursday, as discussed.
Subject: Following up After Yesterday’s Interview
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me to talk about the [job title] position yesterday. It was great hearing about how your team is working on X.
With the Y challenges you’re facing, I’m even more excited about the opportunity to bring my Z skills and experiences to the table.
I look forward to hearing back from you about next steps. In the meantime, let me know if there’s any additional information you need.
Thank you again,
Casual and Short ‘Thank You’ Email for Interview
These samples are best for those following the second or a later interview, and looking to keep it more casual and personable.
Subject: Appreciated Your Time Today
Thanks for meeting with me today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me about the [job title] position.
I especially enjoyed hearing about how your team has been tackling X and Y problems, and how it’s planning to do more Z in the future.
Let me know if you have any further questions. And no matter the outcome, I hope we can stay in touch.
Subject: Following up
Thanks for the great conversation today. I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me and for sharing your thoughts on how your team is contributing to [larger company goals].
That made me even more excited about this role and how it fits in with my passion for A, B and C.
Let me know if there’s anything else you need from me. Looking forward to hearing about next steps.
Subject: Thanks for the Conversation
It was great talking with you yesterday. Always fun to meet a fellow General Assembly bootcamp grad!
I enjoyed learning more about the [job title] role and how you see it fitting into what [company] is trying to achieve with its larger mission of X.
Feel free to reach out if you have any additional questions for me. Thanks again for your time, and I hope we can stay in touch.