It was 2002 and I was coming off what I thought was a pretty strong interview for a great job opportunity. I mailed off my “secret weapon” – a hand-written thank you card the day of my interview and crossed my fingers.
A couple days later I got a call from the employer. “We appreciate you coming in, but have offered the position to someone else. You interviewed strong and we noted your thank you card – no one else did that,” the employer said.
For the third time in my career, I went from being rejected for a job to a few days later being offered that same job because the person ahead of me had a change of heart or circumstances.
Was it all because I sent thank you notes following job interviews? No, obviously other stars need to line up – you can write a beautiful thank you note and still be a lousy candidate (I’ve been in that boat, too).
But when you’re a strong candidate and things are pretty equal – as often is the case for dental hygienist job interviews – who would YOU hire: The five people who didn’t go the extra mile to send a thank you note, or the one person that did?
The only reason a thank you note after a dental hygienist job interview is a secret weapon is because most won’t do it. Here are five key elements for sending one:
When to Send?
Immediately after you interview. In fact it have it ready in your car, addressed and stamped so the employer can get it the next day. Alternatively, you could drop it off later that day or the next morning . The point is you want to get to them before the make a final decision. Some have used e-mail. It’s better than nothing, but not as good as a physical note.
Typed or Handwritten?
If you have bad handwriting (as in some say they can’t read it), I would type it. But handwritten always looks better, more personalized.
What kind of paper?
A small box of pre-printed thank you cards that look professional work great.
What should you include?
Your business card, if you have one.
What should you write?
This depends on your interview, so here are some scenarios, but keep it short and succinct (2-5 sentences).
Scenario 1: You feel like you may be lacking in a key area
Focus a comment or two on your biggest strength. Draw their attention away from the weakness. If you are certain you will not get an offer, then take a gamble and address it, coupled with how you will make up for it. Example: “I recognize I only have one year of professional experience, but I also have four years of dental assisting in my background and worked closely with the hygienist observing and learning during that time.”
Scenario 2: Things were left unsaid
Sometimes there are things you wish you would have been asked about because you had something really strong to say. A thank you card is a great way to share it.
Scenario 3: When everything went well
If you feel your interview was good then reinforce your strengths. Example: “Thank you for the opportunity to interview with you today. You mentioned the importance of finding someone nurturing for your patients. My co-workers have said, my strengths include treating patients like family. I think you have a wonderful office, and I would love to help continue the success you have achieved.”