Thank You Notes

Not All Thank You’s Are Created Equal

You step out of your on-campus interview and you think it’s gone well.  You established good rapport with your interviewers.  The conversation flowed easily, and you think you have a good shot at a callback interview.  Someone told you that you should always write a thank you note to your interviewers.  But should you really?

Having interviewed hundreds of law students over the years on campus, I can tell you that a handwritten thank you note is not worth the time it will take for you to write.  By the end of the interview day, the interviewer will have a pretty good idea about who to call back.  The handwritten note will arrive far too late to make any difference.

So that leaves whether you should send an email (and not a text – see our prior blog post) thanking your interviewers.  Does it really make a difference?  I have never received an email from someone who was solidly in the “no callback” category that somehow convinced me to change my response to “callback.”  However, I have received well-written and thoughtful emails that have swayed me to give a callback to someone I was on the fence about.

What are best practices for sending thank you emails?

First, immediately after you’ve come out of your interview, take a minute or two to write down or put into your phone some notes with highlights of your conversation.  This will help ensure that you don’t forget something important as you proceed through the chaos of the interview day.

Second, take any down time that you have during the interview day to compose thank you messages.  The sooner you can send a message, the better.

As I mentioned before, the interviewers are actively forming their mental callback lists throughout the day, so waiting until the end of the day is not ideal.  The lawyers will be checking their email throughout the day to make sure they are being responsive to client requests, so they will see your message relatively quickly.

Third, the message itself shouldn’t be more than 2-4 sentences.  You don’t need to compose a lengthy literary masterpiece.  Sorry to say, but your interviewer won’t have the time to read through your novella.

Finally, be thoughtful and personal with what you write.  You should absolutely tell them that you appreciated their time out of their busy schedules to speak with you.  You should absolutely tell them that you are excited about their firm.  However, stopping at these kinds of generic statements is a wasted opportunity.

This is where the notes you took down earlier come in handy.  You should recap the most important highlight of your interview but also couple it with a reminder or pitch about an important attribute of yours.

It’s one last opportunity for you to leave an impression that you are the type of candidate they want to join their ranks.  See our prior post about the Six Attributes that law firms are looking for ideas on the types of attributes that matter.

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