Four Thank You Notes that Fizzled, One that Sizzled

This month I conducted in-person interviews with five candidates for an opening on my communications team. Each person followed up with an email or a handwritten thank you note.

One of the notes said:

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me about the communications position. After speaking with you, I am confident that I would be an asset to your team. It was a pleasure meeting you and I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks again.

I received three more just like that. The names of those four candidates could easily have been interchanged and it would have made no difference. Those individuals filled their notes with bland cliches that failed to differentiate them from the other candidates. Unfortunately, the messages did nothing to remind me why they might be the best fit for the position.

With an opportunity to move our conversations to a deeper level, those candidates were content to communicate with trivial pleasantries.

On the other hand, the person I hired emailed a note on the same day he was interviewed. Though his message was lengthier than I usually recommend, in his case it worked. Notice how he continued our conversation beyond the point where we left off. He reminded me of key points he had already made and he even added new information. Here’s what he said:

Thank you for taking time to talk with me today. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and getting to know you better. Throughout the past few weeks I’ve done a lot of research not only about the American Red Cross, but also about you. Your blog is informative, educational, and very inspirational. Your writing made me want to keep reading post after post after post. You’ve gained a new follower!

From our conversation today, I understand you’re looking for a Regional Manager of Communications who will work with media relations, disaster response public affairs, and social media.

My background provides a unique combination of journalism, emergency response, and public information experience most others don’t possess. That background would, I feel, work well with your needs.

I have more than 12 years of TV news experience pitching stories in news meetings and seeing them through to the final product. Growing up, I’ve worked part-time for radio stations and written for newspapers. More than ten years of working in the Kansas City market allowed me to build relationships with an immense number of reporters, editors, and public information officers.

While I’ve responded to disasters as a journalist, I also have experience dealing with them through the eyes of an emergency responder. This has given me a perspective others don’t have. I’m comfortable working in these types of conditions and would enjoy knowing that the message I deliver for the American Red Cross will help people.

I have experience managing social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Social media is an ever-evolving method of communication as is my learning how these avenues can benefit us as communicators. Social media management is a skill set I’ve embraced and am excited about.

You’re incredibly easy to converse with and I know our talk went longer than expected. However, I wanted to convey experiences that gave you the opportunity to know me on a personal level as well as a professional one. In addition, I wanted to ensure you understood my high level of interest in the position.

I’d like to put my unique background to work for your organization while continuing to learn and grow with you. As one of your favorite quotes so eloquently expresses, “Everything happens for a reason.” I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Too often candidates view a job interview as a hurdle they must overcome. The real winners, however, are those who see the interview as a springboard to propel them into a deeper conversation. A well-written, differentiating thank you note can extend the life of an interview, and that can make the difference between victory and near-victory.

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