Interview Etiquette: What’s With All the “Thank Yous”
By Yevgeniy Grigoryev on August 28th, 2012
Once in a while we all have to face the interview gauntlet. Granted, grad-students and post-docs go through interviews as often as white Christmas in Hawaii… Ok, maybe not as rarely as in white Christmas in Hawaii but these particular groups interview on average every 4 to 5 years. Once you realize that there is an interview looming in the near future, you probably try to brush up on your interviewing and people skills. One intriguing aspect of the interview etiquette is that it can closely resemble an animal planet episode that describes courting rituals among birds. Yes, there are many unspoken rules, many things that can create a favorable impression of you and many things that can ruin your chances of ever getting that job. One mystifying aspect of job interviewing I wanted to cover today is the infamous “Thank You” note.
Interview etiquette essential: The thank you note
So you managed to survive the interview and the employer tells you they will contact you in a week to update you on the interviewing process. What happens during this week? Complete radio silence? You wait for the call, a week passes, two weeks … could you have done anything to keep the communication open? Instead, you are frustrated and stressed… Ok, let’s not panic and just review one aspect of the post-interview etiquette called the “Thank You” note.
Firstly, what is this mysterious “Thank You” note and do you really need it? When you go for an interview, the employer looks for more than just your advertised job skills. They also look at how well you interact with people and how you fit in with the rest of the team. Having good manners and people skills is something that the potential employer looks for in each candidate. A Thank You note thus serves several purposes.
Show your manners and express appreciation for the interviewer’s time.
Simply, you send a “Thank You” note right after the interview to each interviewing member to express gratitude for the time they allocated to interview you. Interviewers have to re-arrange their working schedule to accommodate you, so be polite and show you manners. People like to work with well-mannered employees, considering that manners are becoming antiquated in this world.
It is a chance to re-assert your interest in the position.
Were you enthusiastic and excited about the prospects of working for that particular company during the interview? In case you had a mortified look on your face, this is your chance to stress why you are interested in the position.
It is a chance to emphasize why you are a good fit for this position.
Be aware that the same people will probably interview dozens of other potential candidates for the job. You want to make sure that they remember you. Send them a note that states precisely why you are a perfect fit for the job. Remember what it is you said to each interviewer and customize your card for each person. Mention what stood out in your memory specifically with that person.
It is a chance to clarify your responses.
Did you stumble during one of the questions? Acknowledge it in your note and clarify the answer. It can impress the interviewer that you actually took the time to figure out the right answer.
Keep you note brief and focused. Firstly, thank the interviewer for their time. Then re-affirm your interest in the position and state why you make a great fit for this job. Mention what it is they said that made you feel like this is the right company and the right job for you and why you are the right candidate for them. Lastly, clarify any questions and again thank them for the opportunity.
Yevgeniy grew up in New York, but decided to transplant himself to the West Coast for his PhD studies at the Scripps Research Institute, where he studied mechanisms of gene regulation in the immune system. Recently, Yevgeniy again found himself in New York City, pursuing a post-doctoral research project in oncology. Realizing that his true passion was writing, Yevgeniy decided to leave academia and pursue science writing as a freelancer to share his passion for fostering communication between the scientific community and the public. In his spare time Yevgeniy works as a Krav Maga self-defense instructor.
For more PhD Tales from the Couch, see Yevgeniy Grigoryev’s previous articles: