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Top 7 Tips for Writing Your Post-Interview Letter
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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You feel relieved, and even quite confident. Your job interview went well. As you replay it mentally, you cannot think of much you would change. Your extensive preparation enabled you to answer the interviewer’s questions with poise and credibility.
What you do next could separate you from the rest of the applicants, if you do it well. I’m referring to writing your post-interview letter. Here are the top 7 tips to keep in mind.
- SEND A HARD-COPY LETTER, NOT AN E-MAIL
Yes, e-mail has become a universally accepted vehicle for business correspondence. We love e-mail’s obvious advantages—does not have to be lengthy, almost no expense other than the composer’s time, reception can be verified, and style and format can remain simple.
However, the abundance of e-mails professional people read daily might easily reach one or two hundred. Not only will your e-mail risk getting swallowed up in the vast volume of messages, your post-interview response will look rather ho-hum.
But a hardy copy letter will stand out prominently. And that, of course, is your number one goal.
- BE PROMPT
Employers give top ranking to action-oriented job seekers. So if you think “Oh, I’ll get a letter to them next week,” you might as well not send one.
If your job interview happens in the morning, do all you can to get your letter to the post office before closing time. When the interviewer spots your letter on her desk the next day, your ratings will rise.
“But,” you wonder, “what if the interviewer doesn’t have time to read my letter that day? After all, he sure looked busy before, during, and after my interview. My guess is he wouldn’t see it until a couple of days later.”
That poses no problem. You can bet the interviewer will note your letter’s date. So you will still convey the impression of immediate follow up.
- KEEP YOUR LANGUAGE SIMPLE, NOT STILTED
Contemporary managers might have started their careers when more pompous writing styles dominated work place correspondence, but most of them are happy those days have disappeared. You will strike them as obsolete if you resort to grandiose language.
In his stimulating autobiography, The World is My Home, James Michener—one of the world’s most widely read novelists—said he tried to follow the pattern of Ernest Hemingway who achieved a striking style with short familiar words.” Michener added: “Good writing, for most of us, consists of trying to use ordinary words to achieve extraordinary results.”
This means we should say “fortunate” rather than “fortuitous,” “peaceful” rather than “halcyon,” and “serious” instead of “egregious.”
- GIVE THE READER VISUAL BREAKS
While you are correct in limiting your letter to one page to indicate your respect for the reader’s time demands, you are not expected to use every available line on the page—as you did when you wrote frantically in those college exam booklets.
For an example, note the format of this article. The paragraphs are short, so as you read you see ample “white space.” This makes the article easier to skim quickly for your first reading, and find the main points you want to read thoroughly.
Also, check your favorite newspaper and magazines like People Weekly. Here too, the stories and columns generally allow sufficient visual breaks for readers.
- PERSONALIZE—AND PERSONALIZE SOME MORE
One of your major aims is to assure the interviewer that you are not sending a canned letter, with only the recipient’s name and address changed. Probably that could make a worse impression than not writing at all.
Here’s how to achieve the personalization:
Instead of “I enjoyed meeting with you and your team,” write “I enjoyed meeting with you, Evelyn, and Maurice.” In place of “at your company” say “in the Richard Williams Conference Room.” Rather than “You are a recognized leader in this industry,” write “I remain impressed that Forbes Magazine featured you as the second largest software supplier in the United States.”
- KEEP YOUR PROMISES REASONABLE
After a successful interview, you feel tempted to emphasize emphatically that the organization will benefit from hiring you. That is appropriate for your follow up letter. However, stay within the bounds of moderation and modesty.
To illustrate: Your interviewer will welcome, and even expect, your self-promoting comments. Even so, you could come across as cocky and brash if you write, “When you hire me as your sales manager, you can get ready for a 50% increase after two quarters, and more than 100% by the end of the fourth quarter.” Besides sounding arrogant, those promises could return to jeopardize your credibility later.
A more sensible statement: “My sales record with Procter & Gamble since 2003 reflects that I am well prepared and qualified to head your sales team toward closing more sales.”
- INCLUDE A HAND WRITTEN P.S.
Have you noticed what you are most likely to read first when you open a letter? Chances are strong that you might read a handwritten P.S. first. Why? Because the ink bears a sharp contrast to the standard type in the letter’s body.
Plus, you sense once more that the writer has taken another step to become informal and personal, without violating good taste.
The most impressive P.S. will be brief. Perfectly acceptable to use a phrase instead of a sentence: “Great restaurant for lunch, fine choice.”
Bill Lampton, Ph.D.--author of The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication, Change Your Life!--"Helps You Finish in First Place," as a Speech Coach, keynote speaker, and seminar director. Visit his video blog for additional articles and brief instructional videos: http://thecompletecommunicator.com Call him: 678-316-4300
Article Submitted On: September 10, 2009