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Your Closing Argument

You’ve just had a very productive interview with a great company and received positive feedback. It’s clear that you are a good fit for their needs, and you believe that you are among the final contenders for the position. What do you do now? Do you just sit by your email for the next week or two and wait for the Powers that Be to make their final decision?

That would be a serious mistake. To put it in legal terms: You made your opening statement (submitted your resume), presented your case to the jury (completed an interview), and called your witnesses (provided references). Are you really going to rest your case without delivering your closing argument (follow-up letter)? I sure hope not.

You still have one last important function to perform before you can await the jury’s verdict: Craft a killer follow-up letter to email to your interviewer.

Why Send a Follow-Up Letter / Thank You Letter ?

There are many reasons why you must send a letter following your interview. The first and most basic reason is that it is polite to thank your interviewer(s) for their time and for considering your candidacy for the position. In addition, sending a post-interview letter reflects your professionalism and demonstrates that you have an understanding of business etiquette. But if that’s the only purpose of your letter, then you are missing a golden opportunity.

The real purpose of sending a follow-up letter is to take one last step to cement your messaging. Here is what you can accomplish with a powerful letter:

  • Reinforce your key qualifications. Now that you have had the benefit of interviewing with the company, you have a clearer understanding of their goals and the true nature of the role you are hoping to fill. Use the letter as a vehicle to draw a close connection between your qualifications and the company’s requirements.
  • Address their concerns. During the application process, interviewers may have mentioned concerns they have in bringing you on board. Did you assuage these concerns on your interview or are there still lingering doubts? You can use your letter to state convincingly why these concerns should not diminish your candidacy.
  • Demonstrate your interest. All things being equal, employers will tend to choose the candidate who wants the job more than his or her competition. If your letter discusses why believe you are a perfect fit for the company, and how you believe you are aligned with the company’s mission and culture, then this can separate you from the pack. Motivation counts.
  • Tie it all together. Just as an attorney wraps up the case and leads the jury toward a specific conclusion, so too will your follow-up letter. Here is your chance to state confidently that choosing you would be a win-win scenario.

Additional Tips on Your Follow-Up / Thank You Letter

There is not one specific formula or layout you should use for every letter you send. The most effective follow-up letters are completely custom to address the specific needs of the company and the interviewer. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when crafting your letters:

  • Be brief: State your points and end the letter. Make sure every word counts. Do not waste your interviewer’s time with fluff or irrelevant details.
  • Do not be presumptuous: While you want to project confidence, do not overstep your boundaries and act as if you already have the position. Show respect for the interviewer and the process at all times.
  • Don’t leave anyone out: Did you have multiple interviews with multiple interviewers? They each deserve a letter. Get email addresses for everyone involved in the interviewing process. If you have had one group interview with multiple people, it may be acceptable to send one email and cc all interviewers. Use your judgment.
  • Be timely: The best time to send a letter is immediately following the interview. While you do not need to shoot off an email from your phone in the prospective employer’s parking lot, do not let too much time elapse before writing.

One last tip: You should begin writing your follow-up letter during your interview. Take mental notes of the points and concerns most important to your interviewers. If you approach your interview with this final step in mind, writing a powerful follow-up will feel natural and effortless.

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