here’s an example of a great interview thank-you note

Post-interview thank-you notes: You should be sending them! Not because you need to thank anyone, really, but because they’re a chance to build on the conversation you had in the interview and solidify the (hopefully positive) impression you made.

Too often, though, people treat thank-you notes as a perfunctory duty. They’ve heard they’re supposed to send one, so they send something that’s literally … just a thank-you. Usually it’s something like this:

Thank you for your time in meeting with me yesterday to discuss the X position. I’m very interested in the role and look forward to hearing about next steps.

That type of note doesn’t do anything for you! Post-interview notes (which is what we really should call them instead of thank-you’s) should be personalized and should build on the conversation that you had in the interview.

A reader recently sent me a real-life thank-you she’d sent and offered to let me share it here. Here’s the background:

I had a phone screen last December with the hiring manager for a job and despite preparing out the wazoo for the call (seriously — I had a spreadsheet), the questions went in a different direction than I was expecting, and I hung up and thought, “Sh*t. I just blew it. The hiring manager was literally asking about things that I have a lot of experience with and am recognized within my company as being particularly skilled at, WHY didn’t I mention all those concrete examples?”

Then I thought about your advice that a thank-you email continues the conversation, and I figured I had nothing to lose, so I wrote a thank-you/follow-up email where I addressed the brain fart I’d had while on the call. It made me feel really crazy to write that third paragraph, it felt so far off the normal track of thank-yous — admitting that I’d screwed up in the call. But I was brought in for an in-person interview (and then two more, oof) and I ended up getting the job. And I love it! I work with fantastic people and it’s an incredible professional opportunity.

Before we go to the note, some caveats:

• The writer has allowed me to share this here as a favor to me and to readers. Please remember she’s a real person when you’re commenting.
• This writer’s voice is her voice. It will not be your voice, and that’s part of the point.
• There is no single communication that all hiring managers will love or that would be the right fit for every employer and every industry. This one worked for her context.
• Do not steal this note or even parts of it. It works because it’s so customized to the writer. It’s intended for inspiration only — to show what the advice here can look like in practice.

Here’s the note, with identifying details replaced.

•   •   •   •   •

Thank you so much for your time on the phone today. It was super interesting to hear where the Galactica is headed. Based on our conversation, it sounds like you’ve currently got strong fundamentals in place for the paid search program, but at this point in the company’s lifecycle, you need to improve the ROI of the paid search program while continuing to scale up acquisition.

If that is an accurate assessment, it’s a big job. But it does sound like there are some potential opportunities to improve efficiency. We touched on some of them in our conversation: fighting model, improved cross-channel learnings and incorporating what sounds like a recently improved understanding of both LTV and CPA into the paid search cost/benefit analysis. These are all areas where I have experience, and I would love to dive into it (bringing along the rest of the team, of course).

I understand where you are coming from re: an agency mindset which can lead to a too-narrow focus on one channel. Naturally, as soon as we got off the phone, a concrete example of collaboration occurred to me: Caprica has recently merged with Picon (a programmatic company) under the umbrella of Kobal Performance. I’m currently leading the Caprica end of a Caprica-Picon new product development initiative, which would use Picon’s proprietary AI and find a way to apply it to a paid search pain point – and then go to market with it. This means I need to understand how the Picon tool works as well as get the fundamentals of paid search across to the folks on the Picon end, and then work collaboratively to determine what’s feasible.

If this makes sense, there are a couple of people within Caprica (who have previously managed me, but do not currently do so) who would be happy to talk to you about my working style and management style, to fill in any additional details.

I would be thrilled to have the chance to come in and meet with you and the team to see how I might be able to help get the Galactica to the next level. In any case, best of luck with filling the role!

{ 74 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonapots*

    First off, I love the BSG references. That made me happy. Second, my assumption was always make it short so you’re not taking up their precious time. It’s kind of eye-opening to see a longer thank you note with so much detail included.

      1. MissBliss*

        It probably comes down to field and personality. I’m not a hiring manager, but if I were in a position to hire and I got a follow-up like this, I’d love it. In my field, there’s a lot of follow-up and emphasis on communication. I wouldn’t expect them to know everything up front, but getting an email like this would tell me that they knew how to handle up the follow-up to a situation they had been unprepared for, which is something that they will almost certainly encounter. If the email had been all over the place, it would have told me that they didn’t have that down– but even though it might be a little long, it’s pointed.

        1. Fikly*


          99 times out of 100, I don’t care if you know the answer off the top of your head. I care if you know where and how to find the answer.

    1. Legal Beagle*

      Agreed! It’s long, but it’s ALL substantive and useful; not fluff or trying to flatter the interviewer. I particularly loved “Naturally, as soon as we got off the phone, a concrete example of collaboration occurred to me.” Super graceful way of acknowledging the interview didn’t go as well as you wanted, and also remedying that a little bit.

      1. Bee*

        Very graceful, and also super relatable! It made me think, “Boy, I know how that goes,” and doesn’t feel at all like admitting she screwed up to me.

        1. Merci Dee*

          I agree — it acknowledges a situation that 99.9% of people have found themselves in — right after they hang up the phone or walk out of someone’s office, the perfect example pops into their heads. Everybody’s been there, everybody knows the pain of wanting to kick yourself for not thinking of it during the conversation. So just about everyone who would read that is nodding their head in understanding/sympathy.

      2. Xavier Desmond*

        My thoughts too. Having a thank you note that was this long could be awful if it was not so substantive and engaging.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I mean, that’s true of everything. You don’t want to send fluff or something dreadfully dull, regardless of length or type of communication.

    2. LSP*

      You took the words right out of my mouth. I second everything in this comment.

      So say we all!

  2. OrigCassandra*

    Thank you, OP and Alison. I am very bad at this exact kind of communication (in cover letters as well as post-interview emails), and I appreciate the example greatly.

    1. Threeve*

      Me too. It’s especially interesting to see an example of something so leadership-forward.

      It’s sometimes hard to tread the line between “I’m assertive and will be a good manager” and “I will be IN CHARGE and convinced that I have ALL THE ANSWERS.”

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        In my experience, great leaders don’t have all the answers and know they don’t; instead, they hire and build a team they trust to find and implent the right answers.

    2. hayling*

      Agree that it’s so helpful to have a good example when you’re trying to write things like cover letters and thank-you notes.

  3. HS Teacher*

    This is thinking outside the box done well! Congratulations on getting the job!!

  4. Triumphant Fox*

    I love that this is so concrete. It hasn’t really occurred to me to both summarize our conversation and provide a springboard for further discussion in a thank you note, but that is so smart. I find it difficult sometimes to remember details from interviews I’ve done (as the hiring manager), even if I took copious notes, and then effectively compare candidates. I’m usually focused on a few key factors because that’s all I can really do to try to compare apples to apples, but I can see how having a great summary from a candidate would really cement the great parts of their candidacy while they are fresh. This is like getting a second chance at a cover letter once you have a lot more information.

    1. Marie*

      Agreed! Your last sentence nailed it, and is a great way to think about thank-you letters.

    2. Junior Assistant Peon*

      I hadn’t considered this approach before. I always thought it was better to send a very brief thank-you email to avoid looking like one of those overly persistent types. Triumphant Fox raised a great point that it can function like a second cover letter, connecting the dots between your resume accomplishments and the job requirements (and even more effectively than your initial cover letter since you’ve had an in-person conversation and better understand what they’re looking for).

      1. JSPA*

        It would be overly-persistent if the tone were not so helpful / collaborative, and if it didn’t so emphatically hand the ball back to the hiring manager.

        additional references that might be more applicable, if you’d like;
        available to come in, with a different focus, it would be helpful;
        best of luck, regardless of what you do.

        It all avoids, “hire me because I’m the superstar you need” for “newly-relevant information, in case it would be of help.”

  5. Anon Anon*

    Thank you so much for posting this. As a hiring manager, while post interview thank you notes/follow-up communication don’t land someone the job, for me when I receive them especially good ones they can help reinforce my opinion and/or provide additional clarification.

    Plus, I like to know that the person who was being interviewed was clearly paying attention and was thinking about their skills and how they might contribute. The AAM audience tends to be the type of candidate who cares about this sort of thing, but I’ve interviewed more than one person who didn’t seem to care about getting the job. To the point where a qualification for hiring is that the potential applicant appears to want the job I’m hiring for. Not want a job at the company, or want their foot in the door, is actually interested in the specific job they are being interviewed for. The example not you shared would help reinforce that desire to me.

    1. HR Jeanne*

      Agreed. And I like that is shows the candidate continued to think about the role and the business after the formal interview, and was willing to share her ideas. I think this is a great example of how to continue to market your candidacy. I would be impressed if I read this thank you.

      1. HR Jeanne*

        I don’t know why that “thank you” is at the end. I must have typed automatically! Weird.

        1. Lynn*

          I think when you wrote it you meant for “this” to be an adjective and “thank you” to be a noun, and when you re-read it you read “this” as a standalone noun. In the words of my 9th grade English teacher, beware the naked “this”!

    2. Friendly Comp Manager*

      This is very true. I don’t have a ton of hiring experience, but when I did hire, there were two equal candidates, as in I was having a hard time choosing. What pushed me to hire one over the other is the thank you notes one of them sent: timely, detailed, and thoughtful. She has been an amazing hire and has been with me for almost 4 years now! Her thank yous (to me, my boss, and others she talked to) were the deciding factor for me. The other candidate sent absolutely nothing, even after talking to my C-level boss, and that detracted “points” for her — it may seem like a small thing, but in our line of work, follow-through and relationships are critical, so it told me a lot.

  6. OtterB*

    I did something similar, in pre-internet days when it was harder to research an organization ahead of time. I sent a followup letter saying, in my interview we talked about X, but I was reading the material you gave me on the plane on the way home and see that you are expanding into Y. I have a strong background in Y and here is the Table of Contents and summary of a report on Y that I worked with a team to produce.

    Worked for me.

  7. Ali G*

    This is similar to how I got the job I am in now. When I interviewed, I was asked a question and I just completely mis-heard what they were asking. I could tell my answer wasn’t great by their reactions and so of course I mulled it over and over all the way home. Then the light bulb went off and I totally got it! I did something very similar to this LW and I even got a reply thanking me for a thorough follow up!

  8. Hiring Mgr*

    My problem is I’m so good in the interview, there’s never anything I’ve missed that I can add later in this context.

    Just kidding – this is a great example of a follow up note. There’s no reason these type of things have to always follow standard convention every time.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      But that does happen! Not so much that you’re so “good” at interviewing, but that you had a good interview.
      What if you feel you did cover everything, asked the right questions and had a great conversation?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You still build on the conversation. This is just one example. You can do something similar in other circumstances.

        There’s another example in this piece I did for NYMag (although note that I cut it down for that article — the original note, which was excellent, had more specific details in the second paragraph, and ideally you’d want 1-2 more sentences there with concretes):

        1. irene*

          I referenced that article of yours when I wrote the follow-up email for my current job! On my second or third day, my supervisor mentioned offhandedly how much she liked it and how frustrating it was that she couldn’t reply back to continue the conversation further. (Per HR hiring rules – which I had been expecting!)

          I basically did the thing where I wrote a second coverletter based on new information, mentioned some deficits I had thought about and ways that we could tackle them, also referred to my weakness in one job duty (no substantial experience) – but how my other skills were strong and would compensate and i was eager to learn/improve, and finally made sure to highlight something specific and not necessarily job-related from our conversation to demonstrate that I was engaged and paying attention, etc.

          I figure with the hiring process being so nerve-wracking, it helps so much to have the script or guidelines to structure the resume, emails, etc, no matter how confident I am in my skills and interview performance. It felt a little calculating, but I reminded myself that I was just doing a post-meeting follow-up and making sure that everyone was on the same page about our needs and expectations. It’s all part of showing myself as a good candidate because I really needed a job, but also making sure that we want the same things and will be a good personality match with the team.

          Thank you so much, Alison, for sharing these examples and writing the articles! They taught me what to do and got me praise. :)

      2. Observer*

        Not every follow up has to be that format. But, a substantive comment about the conversation is generally possible.

      3. PlainJane*

        Hmm. I’d guess that, if you’re excited about the job after a great interview, you could talk about the things that excited you based on those great questions you asked–“I was intrigued by what you were telling me about the new llama combs you’re developing. I’ve did more reading on that on the commute home and…”

        Something like that.

      4. Triumphant Fox*

        But it good be more of a summary pitch. The below sounds a little ridiculous with placeholders, but basically – remember what we talked about? I’m awesome at these things and here is why I’m excited about the job. It doesn’t have to be something you missed or more details, but those can be effective if you have them.

        Thank you for the opportunity. I was excited to discuss the upcoming Y project and how my skills in A, B and C would apply. I see a lot of overlap between my experience at my current company working on D and the possibility for expanding my focus on F and G, which I think will be crucial to making Y a success. I appreciate your time and hope to hear from you soon.

      5. CircleBack*

        A couple times I’ve included a link to a relevant article or resource based on a discussion during the interview. E.g. “We discussed how the requirements for X have been changing over the past couple years – here’s a resource I’ve found helpful / here’s an article that I found to be a great summary of the challenges and how to start addressing them”

  9. MissDisplaced*

    This is interesting and congratulations on the OP for getting that job!
    I’ve always been under the impression your thank you notes should be short. I don’t know that I would write something quite so detailed in most cases, but I guess it depends on a) how much you want that particular job, and b) is there something you feel you missed or left out of the conversation during the interview that shows you can solve their problem(s) with the skills you’d bring. In this case it did work beautifully because the writer thought of a great example of her skills once she left the interview and had a better sense of what they were looking for.

    I’ve certainly responded in this manner in a few cases, with varying success. If the fit is right in the first place, and the interview really knows what they want in a candidate, it can work fairly well. But other times, even if you thought you had a great interview, you might get crickets. I guess that’s how it goes though.

    1. Anon Anon*

      I think like many many cover letters that you tailor this post-interview communication to the situation. So for some situations the post-interview note may be shorter, as there are fewer things to highlight and others it may be longer.

      I also like reframing this as post-interview notes, because I think that highlights that this is a professional communication. So there is no need to breakout the thank you cards and write something by hand. Email is appropriate.

  10. Aquawoman*

    I also loved the “Naturally…” because hasn’t that happened to all of us? It’s such a universal experience that I think it immediately makes the reader identify with the LW.

  11. TimeTravlR*

    What a great way to continue the conversation! Absolutely worth a shot. I just finished three video interviews (I am on the hiring panel) and feel like two of them would benefit from some reflection and offering something like this. I know they have more to offer than they brought across in the interview and it’s a shame.

  12. Senor Montoya*

    OP, I think you handled the brain-fart exceptionally well: “Naturally, as soon as we got off the phone, I thought of a concrete example…”

  13. Houda*

    I think the less manicured tone of the note gave it a human-like quality. A variation of this would definitely get extra points from me since we all have our preferences.
    I am in strategy consulting and just finished an intense round of interviewing several candidates, all from the same MBA program. Perhaps it is the way they prepare together for case interviews, or that they go through all consultancies and get bored, but they come across as robotic.
    It can be mind-numbing to hear the same “May I take a minute to think through my structure?” then get the canned thank you email or thank you note as the text for a LinkedIn connection request.
    When I am asked to give feedback to candidates, I cannot even remember what they said.
    If I got a note like this one, at least I’d remember the applicant.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      lol! If you don’t want folks to give case interview answers, don’t give case interviews!

  14. Hiring Mgr*

    IMO the best interviews are conversations, not strict back and forth Q and A. I think one reason this note works so well is that it continues that convesrsaional tone.

    1. Health Insurance Nerd*

      I 100% agree! My best interviews- on either side of the table- have basically been structured conversations as opposed to just straight Q&As.

    2. Anon Anon*

      Yes! It’s a conversation to see if both parties think the role and the organization will be a good fit.

  15. Secret Squirrel*

    Wow I love this letter. It’s so positive and shows you were engaged in your interview, and invested thought into the discussion after you left. I like the conversational tone because you come off like a real person and not a robot, and it doesn’t sound forced or insincere. Congrats on the new job.

  16. Health Insurance Nerd*

    As a hiring manager, if I were to receive a thank you note like this from a candidate, it would absolutely move them up on my list (unless they were already at the top, at which point it would likely solidify my decision to extend an offer)!

  17. ASW*

    I took a similar route after the interview for my current job and I’m sure it helped me get the job. I was applying for a management position and after one of the questions, I started to answer and in my head, I realized what I was about to say could be taken to mean that I liked telling people what to do. That threw me off and while I don’t remember what I said, it wasn’t great. I was sure that had killed my chances. I addressed that in my thank you note by basically confessing to what I had thought my intended answer would sound like and that it threw me off and expanded on what I really meant to say. Months after I started that job, HR inadvertently gave me a copy of an email where my boss at the time (the person who interviewed me) had forwarded my thank you email to HR and said, “I’m sold!” So if you think you didn’t answer something well, definitely take the time to clarify while thanking them for the interview. It certainly can’t hurt!

    1. Triumphant Fox*

      I love stories like this. It makes me feel like there is more room in interviewing to recover, take stock and present yourself in a better light and land the job. There is so much pressure on the interview itself, I love hearing that you addressing the issue landed you the job.

      I’d want to work with someone who has the critical thinking and personality to communicate what they meant to say after the fact. As a candidate, I’d want to work with people who take in the whole picture and respond well to reaching out and explaining yourself, so it seems to be a win on both sides.

  18. Quinalla*

    This is great and something I’ve done (though not this well so glad for the post so I can improve) for interview follow-ups too. I’m definitely a processor/introvert/etc. where I do so much better after I’ve had time to think about things, so it has always been pretty natural for me to follow up like this with “Aha, here is something I thought about to expand on what we talked about!” I’ve also used them to ask a question that I thought of after the fact as well.

  19. Fabulous*

    This example is amazing. I’m a terrible note taker so I don’t know that I could recreate the conversation as effectively. But I love another commentator’s point that as a hiring manager they can’t always remember specifics either, so including any examples from the interview would probably help jog their memory regardless.

    Does it matter that the note seems a lot more jargony than what would normally be advised?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      re jargon, I suspect that has to do with how Alison has edited it to anonymise it, and that the original would have seemed smoother to the recipient.

  20. Greg*

    Great note. I’m not the biggest fan of the Five O’Clock Club’s methodology, but one piece of advice from them has always stuck with me: Don’t treat it as a thank-you note from a supplicant, treat it like a follow-up letter from a consultant: “Based on our discussion, you identified this challenge your business is facing. Here’s how I would handle it, and here is the backup to prove that I can do what I’m promising.” That’s exactly what she does here.

    I especially liked that she offered to provide references around the specific project under discussion. Most people’s references are that one former boss who really loved them, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s so much more powerful if you can say, “Oh, you know that particular situation we’re talking about right now? I happen to have a reference for that!”

  21. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Brilliant follow-up note example (and not kust because it seemed to help you land a follow-up interview).

    Thank you for letting AAM share it, OP!

  22. Alex*

    Oh man, this is such a good example. I’m so glad this writer allowed you to share it. I’m not expecting (fingers crossed!) to be job searching for a while, but it’s good to have such useful, concrete examples in my back pocket.

  23. stitchinthyme*

    I had a dilemma about writing a follow-up note a couple of weeks ago: I wasn’t all that sure I actually wanted the job, and I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to be convincing. So I just didn’t bother. (End result: according to the recruiter, they really wanted to make me an offer, but the higher-ups cut the budget for the position such that it would have ended up being a $40K pay cut for me.)

    1. Kelly L.*

      I did this once. The interview convinced me I wanted to stay as far away from this employer as possible, so I blew off the thank you in the hopes they would quickly forget I existed!

  24. anon for this*

    Thanks for sending in this example! It does help me understand what a follow-up letter can do, although I always find it hard to come up with anything very concrete to write about. I think this is laregly due to the nature of my work (in-house book editing) which is essentially exactly the same position in every publishing company I’ve applied for.

    The interview is pretty much the hiring manager describing a list of the job requirements of an in-house editor, all of which I have years of experience with as it’s exactly the same as my current job. So it’s not like the interview gives me any additional insight into the position or anything to build on in an email … it’s basically, “So, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about the position, which is identical to my current position. It reminded me a lot of my current position, because that’s essentially what it is.”

  25. Kendra*

    This happened to me too! Twice! In one, I’d made a mistake while explaining a technical device, and in the other (this one really stuck with me) they found an *error in my Master’s thesis during the interview* . In the first case, I wrote my thank you and said “I realized I misspoke while I was describing X. As I’m sure you know, it’s features are actually Y and Z.” In the second case, I corrected my master’s thesis and sent the corrected paper to the company along with a thank you note. In both cases, I was offered the job.

  26. Thank You Note Writer*

    Thank you to everyone for all the nice words!

    1. I totally used the example in the The Cut article that Alison links above in the comments to help me write this thank you note; you can see my first and second paragraphs are really modeled on it (showing I understand the challenges of the job and also some indication about how I would tackle it/had experience with some similar challenges)

    2. I also felt really weird about sending such a long thank you, in addition to feeling weird about saying “uh I blew this, but here’s a better answer”. (I guess I feel weird about many things.) Full disclosure: I have never asked my boss if this thank-you made any difference in the hiring process – is this why I made it past the phone screen to the in-person? I have no idea. I had so many rounds of interviews that I sent a lot of thank yous, but of course the later ones were much briefer and “thank you for your time – I am still interested, I think we have covered everything but let me know if there is anything else I can address” etc.

    3. The jargon is industry-wide and very very common; I asked Alison to change one acronym that is specific to my company

    1. Bazinga*

      Thanks so much for sharing this with the AAM commentariat. It’s really a great letter and went a direction I wouldn’t have thought of. But even if you don’t miss mentioning something in the interview, this is a great way to summarize what you talked about, and show that you were listening and gave the interview some thought. Well done!!

  27. Tiny Terror*

    Are post interview notes/thank-yous the norm anywhere outside the USA? I ask as I’d never ever heard of the concept till I started reading AAM (from NZ).

    1. Anon Anon*

      I am not sure, but I suspect if you asked a lot of people in the US they wouldn’t describe them as being the norm either.

    2. londonedit*

      Definitely not the norm in the UK. I’d never heard of them either until I started reading here.

    3. Oska*

      Norway here: I asked the people who had interviewed me for my current position about this, and they said it would have come off as weird. It’s definitely not the norm here.

  28. Courageous cat*

    This is written so well that it’s depressing because I don’t think I could ever strike a tone perfectly like this, haha. This takes a little bit of talent to word correctly.

  29. Swishy-fins*

    And on the subject of thank-you notes, please send them via email and not postal mail. I recently ran a search; one finalist’s handwritten note arrived after we had already made our decision about who to hire.

  30. For Shame*

    I forgot to write a thank you note due to a major covid-19 announcement. Still got the job, thank goodness.
    Wouldn’t have written as nice a letter as this anyways!

  31. TheMonkey*

    Heh–no way I could steal this or even part of it as my field of expertise is so far removed from whatever this LW does as I have no idea what she’s describing, except that it sounds like she did a great job and has people that will testify to that (awesome).

    Which goes exactly to Alison’s point about tailoring things to your own situation and using your own voice. :)

  32. Annie*

    This may be a good style of thank you note to the hiring manager, but as a very busy HR person with over 1200 employees in my division, I’m just going to be frank here – I’m not reading all that. I don’t have time.

    +1 for sending a thank you note, but the length and detail doesn’t make you more likely to get a job when it’s a behavioral-based interview.

    Just remember it’s a great idea to send different thank you notes to the different people you speak with over the interview process. (In the same way your resume should be customized to every job you apply for.)

Comments are closed.