Today, I’ll provide the tools to properly close an on-site interview and push your candidacy toward the “hire pile.” Pay attention, and keep this article for your records, as you’ll undoubtedly be referencing it in the near future.

An element of the employment process that surprises job seekers is what most hiring managers consider after the initial phone screen and on-site interview: Does a candidate send a follow-up/thank you letter that reinforces their interest in the position?

This key strategy is not nearly as complicated as preparing for a phone screen (“Brush Up on Phone Interview Skills,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 20, 2009), or successfully impressing your panel during the face-to-face interview (“Proper Interview Preparation Pays Off,” Daily Nexus, Oct. 30, 2009), but if executed correctly, can secure you a second interview or launch your first career right out of college. Two steps are involved: 

The first is to gather your interview panel’s contact information. After you meet with each person on the hiring team, ask for his or her business card and best contact e-mail and phone number. Regardless of how you feel while interviewing, ASK. The speed at which you’ll be able to follow through will beat out your competitors.  

Next, you will need to send a follow up e-mail 24 to 48 hours post-interview. Staying fresh in the hiring team’s mind is key, as they hold round tables (a fancy HR term for a meeting to discuss potential new hires). In this meeting, they’ll review the top three to five candidates in the running and decide on second interviews or presenting an offer. This follow-up e-mail should have the following elements: 

1.) Spelling, punctuation and grammar. An e-mail with one typo, poorly written phrase or single period missing can kick you out of the running. No joke. Use the spell check function on your e-mail. Re-read, double, triple and quadruple check everything.
2.) Be short and succinct, yet potent. Don’t blabber on about why you need the job. Every word, phrase and sentence should have meaning. 
3.) Express your appreciation for the time they spent interviewing you. Show gratitude.
4.) List positive characteristics proven in previous work experience and explain how they directly relate to the position you’ve applied for. What can you bring to the table that others lack?
5.) Repeat your interest in the opportunity and back up your reasoning. Did something about their company culture spur your interest?
6.) Recap a few things discussed during the interview. This shows attention to detail and will impress the hiring team.
7.) Close with your best contact information. Provide a phone number and e-mail where they can reach you quickly.

Each letter should be tailored individually with these seven elements in mind. Stay professional, and use your own methods when composing the follow-up/thank you e-mail. Be creative and sell yourself. To close, here is an example of a follow-up e-mail I sent to a previous employer. Use it as a guide, not a template, to help you get that much closer to a successful job offer! 

Dear Esther, 
I am writing to extend my appreciation to you for taking a few moments out of your busy day to speak with me this afternoon! Stacy gave me a very well rounded perspective of what expectations are present in the administrative assistant role, and I appreciate your ability to increase my awareness of what great leaps and bounds your center has taken!  

After the conclusion of the interview, I feel even more confident that my background matches the candidate expectations, including room for growth and personal development, which I will dedicate on my own part. 

I want to strongly express that I am still highly interested in the opportunity and would love to be considered as a full-time, long-term employee. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly at 510-717-8696. I look forward to hearing from you and Stacy!  
Peter Cheng