You have probably heard the advice that you should send a thank you email or a letter after an interview. I don't disagree with this, but how will this help you get the job offer you want?
A decision to hire you is often made during the interview or immediately after the interview. There is nothing wrong with being professional by sending a thank you note after the interview, but I have never had a hiring manager change his mind to hire me (or anyone I know of) because of a thank you note that was sent after the interview. Sending the note certainly made me feel good since I was thankful for the interview, but mostly because I was following the advice that I got from just about everyone that I should send a thank you note after the interview. It was the right thing to do.
My suggestion to you is not to do that. If you want to be a real professional job interviewer, email a thank you note to all who are going to interview you before you show up for a face-to-face interview.
You want to do it is since it makes you look different among other candidates and you will also get a chance to establish your credentials before the meeting. It is much easier and acceptable to state your credentials in a written form than doing it by phone or face-to-face. Written form saves you from coming across like you are bragging. You don’t want to brag and, at the same time, you don’t want to show up at the meeting as a “cold” candidate that they know very little about. You want to exert your influence before the interview, not after.
This is borne out from research done by Robert Cialdini, professor of psychology at Arizona State. For her book, “Reinventing You,” the author Dorie Clark had a conversation with Robert Cialdini where he talks about the reason for sending an email (or written word). Clark writes that “It turns out— for whatever quirk of culture— that you can get away with writing self-promotional things that you simply can’t say in person.”
It allows you to set the agenda on what you want to discuss, highlight your background and ask what you want the interviewers to address so the conversation is mutually beneficial. Note, you want this note to turn the interview into a conversation and avoid an interrogation.
Here is a typical note I would send:
As you know that we are scheduled to meet a week from today to discuss the Alliance Manager position.
Briefly, I have helped several companies (similar to yours) build and manage strategic alliances that led to significant revenue growth. To explore how I can do the same for you, please let me know if there is anything specific you would like me to drill down regarding my background, knowledge or expertise.
The specific area that I would like you to spend some time on is how your company makes sales and services organization work together with strategic partners while mitigating sales conflicts. This is always a big challenge that often prevents companies from leveraging strategic partnerships to generate growth.
Lastly, whether we get an opportunity to work together in the future or not, I want to thank you ahead of time for giving me an opportunity to discuss this position with you; hence, I am looking forward to meeting with you next week.
This letter takes care of three things: you don't have to send a thank you note after the interview, it establishes your credentials and it sets the agenda for the meeting. In a sense, you have told the interviewer why this meeting is taking place and what you are looking to get out of it. You are telling them that they better be prepared for the meeting. You have just taken a proactive action to make the meeting productive for both you and the interviewer.
Importance of a written word from a classic novel
You never want to underestimate the importance of the written word. This works today as it did in the past. For example, in the classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, somewhere in the middle of the novel, Elizabeth Bennet (the second of the five Bennet sisters looking to find a good husband) is very angry at Mr. Darcy (a potential mate that Elizabeth dislikes for being arrogant) for his role in preventing his friend, Mr. Bingley, from marrying Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, and his bad treatment of George Wickham, an acquaintance of Elizabeth Bennet.
To explain the situation from his side, he hands a letter to Elizabeth Bennet when she saw him going for a walk. In the thoughtful letter, he acknowledges and apologizes for his role in preventing his friend, Mr Bingley, from marrying Elizabeth’s sister, Jane. His reasoning was that he did not think that Jane was that interested in his friend Mr. Bingley and did not want to see him get hurt by falling in love for Jane. Another reason he cites honestly is that he has some some reservation about her Elizabeth’s family. All he was doing was trying to protect his friend.
On his role of ill treatment of George Wickham, he sets the story straight. He informs Elizabeth that Wickham was supported financially (three thousand pounds) by him to study law. but he was irresponsible and lazy in making a living from practicing law. Another reason that severed the relationship between the two was Wickham taking advantage of Mr. Darcy’s younger sister (who was fifteen and ten years younger than Mr. Darcy) by plotting to elope with her primarily to gain access to her money. Mr. Darcy found about Wickham’s plot two days before it was supposed to take place and was able to prevent her sister from eloping. Understandably, thereafter Mr. Darcy has not had any relationship with Wickham. This is the first time he has mentioned this to anyone about Wickham,, unlike Wickham who tends to badmouth Mr. Dacy to others.
The reason I am mentioning this is that this was the turning point of this novel that changes Elizabeth’s view of Mr. Darcy and seems to better understand his actions and motives. Mr. Darcy was able to explain his point through a letter that he could not speaking to Elizabeth Bennet face-to-face. This changes the entire narrative of this classic novel and results in a happy ending.
If a written word can work for Mr. Darcy through Jane Austen, then it can work for you too. Do not underestimate the power of the written word.
As I often say, an interview should not be looked at as just another interview, but it’s your doing the job. It should mimic how you would do a real job, so why not do the same during the interview process? There is nothing gimmicky about this, but just doing your job. If you do it well, you are likely to walk away with a job offer.