The Thank You Note
It's called a note, but it's really a formal business letter. As soon as you've had an interview you need to prepare a thank you note and get it to the recruiter within 24 hours. Why 24 hours Because hiring decisions are often made within 24 hours of the interviews, barring a specific delay such as a decision-maker going out of town. The candidates may not hear the decision until some time later, after it has been rubber stamped by all those along the paper trail, but it was probably made early.
Why a thank you note In The Interview Kit author Richard Beatty expresses the importance of this final step, "Courtesy can go a long way in enhancing your image as someone who is polite and considerate. It's utterly amazing to me how many employment candidates have spent a full day in interviews where a lot of valuable time and energy was expended on their behalf, yet they fail to express any appreciation for the employer's efforts (p. 204)."
Shannon Whelan's Career success: the Canadian guide, a top source no matter what country you're in, goes further by suggesting how the thank you note can be used to enhance your chances of getting a job offer. "This gesture is courteous and shows that you're genuinely interested in the position. It also provides you with yet another opportunity to briefly extol your key strengths (p. 86)."
Use the thank you letter to reinforce your interest in the position and your desirability as a candidate. You can also use the thank you letter to mention things that you forgot or that didn't come up in the interview. You can even address any concerns brought up by the recruiter(s) during the interview by offering assurance of your suitability.
Thank you letters should be as well written as cover letters. If possible, drop the letter off yourself at the main reception of the company to ensure that it gets there before the hiring decision is made. Try to have it arrive first thing the morning following the interview to ensure it is read before the decision-makers have a chance to meet.
If you were interviewed by more than one person you should send a thank you letter to each one. You should have collected business cards or written down their names on your note pad. If you aren't sure, call the company the receptionist or anyone in human resources should be able to give you the proper spelling and titles of those who interviewed you.
If you get a job offer
Consider the offer carefully, then start asking questions of yourself and if necessary of your recruiter. You might just accept the offer immediately, but the employer will probably give you a little time to think it over before expecting a yes or no from you. During that time consider all the factors affecting the job. The book How to Win the Job You Really Want suggests, "The first step toward making an objective evaluation of your offers is to formulate your personal job criteria." The author suggests the following items for consideration: job content, compensation package, soundness of the company, quality of the organization's products or services, reputation of the organization in its industry, people, time requirements, its corporate culture, quality of the organizational management, physical environment, long-range benefits and geographic location (p. 197).
If you decide to accept the offer, get it in writing as soon as possible even if it's an email that you can print off. Many job offers are made over the phone, but most employers will follow up with a written offer. If a letter isn't mentioned ask, "Will I be getting a written offer " If the answer is no, then take notes of the offer made over the phone and write it yourself. Prepare a letter to the employer responding to the offer. Begin with, "I want to confirm our telephone conversation of yesterday in which you offered me the position of___." Follow by writing down the details given to you over the phone, and confirm your start date, location and hours of work. End with a request to have the employer correct the information if it isn't accurate. Get this to the employer as soon as possible; it should prompt some sort of written reply and the two together will act as a contract.
If you haven't had a tour of the company, ask if there will be an orientation that includes that. If there won't be an orientation, ask if a tour could be arranged on your own time to familiarize yourself with the organization and its facilities. You might also arrange to meet your immediate supervisor and co-workers in advance of your start date.
If you don't get a job offer
Try to find out why. Maybe it was something you said or did, or maybe it wasn't. It's possible that there were deciding factors that had nothing to do with your qualification or interview performance. Maybe the position was given to someone with a lot more experience. Maybe the position was filled internally by moving someone from another department or branch. Maybe there was a part-time employee, contractor or co-op student in the position already who was taken on full-time.
If it was something about you or your performance, try to find out. To some people this seems to be an unimaginable thing to do voluntarily. You're already disappointed, do you want to be disillusioned about yourself too but if you want to get your career off the ground, you need to know what's holding you back as soon as possible. Use any feedback you receive to improve your chances for the next time.