The interview process for many mid-management and senior-level positions can be lengthy, depending on the role you're seeking and the organizational structure. A recruiter might contact you for a preliminary telephone screening to verify your interest; however, there might be two to three face-to-face interviews following that initial conversation. Where thank you letters are concerned, you can't go wrong if you exhibit professional courtesy during every step of the process.
Employers' recruitment and selection processes ensure wise hiring decisions. Many hiring processes consist of two interviews -- one by telephone and another face-to-face -- to select candidates for certain positions. However, the higher the position, the more likely you are to have a series of face-to-face interviews. In-person meetings with decision-makers serve two distinct purposes: They get an opportunity to explore whether you can perform the job functions, and assess whether your professional values align with the organizational culture.
Writing a thank you letter after each interview is imperative. That said, you needn't send lengthy thank you letters that reiterate the skills and expertise you would bring to the organization. That needs to be part of your thank you letter after the first face-to-face interview, because it's the interview primarily focused on your job knowledge and qualifications. After your second interview, demonstrate professional courtesy with a brief thank you letter to recap the conversation and restate your interest in the company. Also, include a sentence or two about how your professional values parallel those of the organization.
If your second interview was a lengthy meeting wherein you discussed particular challenges of the job, feel free to write a longer thank you letter that expresses your appreciation and also describes how you intend to approach the challenges of that position. This kind of extended thank you letter is what Virginia-based career coach Wendy Enelow refers to as a "second-tier marketing tool." It demonstrates that you've given serious thought to how effective you can be in the role, and in effect, closes the deal on your candidacy. Enelow is the author of more than two dozen books containing advice for job seekers.
When in question, err on the side of being overly courteous than not courteous enough during your job search. You'll never go wrong with exhibiting professional courtesy every step of the way. However, if you neglect one simple courtesy in your dealings with an important decision-maker, there's a possibility that it could cost you an employment offer. A thank you letter does more than reinforce your interest in working for the organization. It's how you express appreciation for an interviewer's time. Therefore, when you interview more than once, it's entirely appropriate, and perhaps expected, for you to say "Thank you" each time.
If your second face-to-face interview is before a panel of decision-makers, send separate thank you letters to each member of the panel. Change the wording to make each letter slightly different to demonstrate that you paid close attention to each panel member's questions and comments. For example, if John Smith discussed collaboration with his sales team and Mary Doe emphasized the importance of your willingness to relocate frequently during your career with the company, insert a line or two about each interviewer's specific interest.
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