Advice for Students

After a Job Interview: How to Stand Out From Other Candidates

December 15, 2011  |     |   0 Comment

When I worked within the law firm environment and managed the professional recruitment of summer law students, articling students, and lateral hires, I was responsible for the review of all incoming resumes, recommendations to firm partners with respect to suitable candidates, and the interview process.

Over the years, I have reviewed thousands of resumes and conducted hundreds of interviews.  I know first-hand what employers are seeking in potential employees as well as the methodologies used during the interview process.  I am also knowledgable with respect to the “unspoken” expectations that employers have of candidates upon completion of a job interview which they feel are the tell-tale signs of whether a candidate is truly interested in their organization and the job.

If you truly want to stand out from other candidates after a job interview, and you don’t want the individuals on your interview panel to question how serious you may be regarding their organization and the job for which you interviewed compared to another candidate – send a thank you note. Your note should be sent within 24 hours after your interview.

Whatever format you decide to use to create your thank you note, the most important thing is that you send one, and that the content is professionally presented. Hard-copy typed is the most formal, while email tends to be the most common form given that it is fast and convenient. You can also consider using email as a supplement in addition to hard-copy, particularly when you have used email as your means of contact with the person you want to thank. A hard-copy thank you letter should be written in the business letter format, while an email should be sent in the same format but without the heading (your return address, their address, and the date). However, the personal touch of a hand-written thank you note really does get noticed and can be appropriate for brief notes to a variety of individuals you may have met during the interview process.

Here are some savvy tips to consider when writing your thank you notes:

Send a Note to Each Person you Met: You should send a thank you note to each person you met during your interview.  Each note you write should be a little bit different; you may not know exactly who in the group will be making the decisions so you want to show an equal amount of respect and attention. Getting a business card from each interviewer will help you with names and titles when you sit down to write your thank you’s.

Begin by Saying “Thank You”: Express your appreciation for being invited for an interview by thanking the interviewer. Be sure you mention the position for which you interviewed and the date of your interview. You can also include information about your impressions about the company.

Express Your Interest: Convey your interest in and enthusiasm for the company and the position for which you interviewed. Be specific about why you are interested in the position and how you are a good fit for the team. Use a specific example from your interview to demonstrate these points.

Address Unresolved Points: Address any issues or questions that came up during the interview that you feel you did not fully answer. This letter is your last chance to make a positive impression on the interviewer.

Personalize It: You will likely be one of many interviewees, so you need to set yourself apart from the other candidates so they will remember you when you leave. In your letter, highlight a key point from your interview that you believe the interviewer will remember, and therefore remember you.

Reiterate Your Expertise: If the company communicated its specific needs, issues or challenges, use your thank-you letter to demonstrate how you can meet those needs.

Highlight Your Successes: Similarly, if the company communicated its ideal qualifications for a candidate, use your thank-you letter to outline how you meet or exceed those qualifications.

Proofread, Proofread, Proofread: Make sure your thank you letter conveys a professional image by ensuring it is free of typos and grammatical errors.

Your thank you note should not exceed one page. The conclusion of your letter should indicate your interest in hearing back from the interviewer and your interest in a second interview. You should also provide your contact information and the best method and/or time to contact you. Finally, reiterate your interest in and enthusiasm for the company and the position for which you interviewed.

Remember: a thank you note can make or break the deal. Many employers believe that someone who doesn’t write a thank you shows a lack of interest in the job, a lack of thoroughness, and is basically not a serious candidate. So after a job interview, always send a thank you note.









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