You’ve heaved a great sigh of relief and now the very first thing you should do is a personal debriefing with yourself, while the interview is still fresh in your mind. Most people don’t do this and miss out on documenting things that can really help in future interviews. You should do this within an hour or two after you’ve completed your interview. Don’t wait until a day or two later to do this personal debriefing because you almost certainly won’t be able to remember everything once it’s no longer fresh in your mind.
You should first write down the names and titles of everyone you met, if you didn’t do that during the interview itself.
Next, write down your thoughts about how you feel the interview went. Did you feel you were well prepared? Were you able to answer their questions in terms of your experience and accomplishments, tailored specifically for that job?
Write down all questions you were asked that you found difficult to answer, or that you didn’t expect at all. Then, develop answers for those questions in case they are asked in your next interview.
Finally, write down any additional information learned about the company and the job. Even if you don’t get this job, it will help you on future interviews.
You next step is to send a thank you letter to the Hiring Manager and anyone else who may have interviewed you. This shows that you understand basic business etiquette and have good attention to detail.
As to whether you should send your thank letters by U.S. mail or by email, the answer I’ll give you today is different than the answer I would have given a few years ago. Today, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to send a thank you letter via email. Even for non-IT positions, it shows you’re comfortable with technology.
Also, the email will get there immediately, while I’m still contemplating which interview was best. A letter sent via U.S. mail may take a day or two, and then another day or so to get through my mail room. By then, I may have already decided who to call back for further interviews (or who to hire!).
Just make sure that your email is written the same way you would have written a hard copy letter. Pay attention to proper grammar, spelling, etc. Don’t write it in the abbreviated way that most emails are written.
Actually, what I really recommend is that you send an email thank you immediately, and then drop another thank you in the U.S. mail. This gives you two shots at getting my attention and tells me that you are thorough and really want the job. Very few applicants do this and I always remember the ones that do.
For the paper thank you letter, do not – let me repeat, do not – hand write it. No matter how good your handwriting may be, this looks like you rushed it off and couldn’t take the time to do it properly on a word processor. It also gives the impression that you aren’t comfortable with using a computer, which is a deal-killer for almost every type of position today.
Some advice you read may still say that a hand written thank you letter gives it a “personal” touch. This may have been true many years ago. Today, hiring managers expect to see printed, well written letters.
I’m out of room in this post, so I’ll reserve for next time the discussion of how long you should wait if you don’t hear anything after your interview, as well as the right way to follow up.