As job candidates complete interviews for positions, it is common for them to send a thank you note. But do you know the proper response to interview thank you email? Do you have to respond to the candidate?
The short answer is, yes, you should respond. The long answer includes more exploration of how to respond and what to avoid in your response. Like everything you do when it comes to professional correspondence, a polite and personal response to an interview thank you email is best.
In years past, a candidate might have mailed a handwritten thank you note after an interview. But today, it is more likely they will send one through email. Because email correspondence can feel more casual, it is important to keep things professional.
Most recruiters and executives know that thank you notes give job candidates another chance to make their case. They can highlight their strengths for the job. They can also use a thank you note to followup on something discussed in the interview.
In a similar way, employers can use their response to the thank you note to followup. But you are keeping your hiring options open. So, you do not want to sound too optimistic or pessimistic in your response to the candidate.
It is also important to remember that job applicants have many choices in this market. The vast majority of small businesses note they are getting few, if any, applicants for jobs. You want to make sure you make a good impression as a prospective employer.
Here are some tips to consider about your response to interview thank you email.
Always respond to a thank you email
First, just to be clear, you should always respond to a thank you email. This is the most courteous and professional thing to do. At the very least, acknowledge that you received their email.
It doesn’t matter if you have made up your mind or are still interviewing job candidates. A response to interview thank you email shows you are courteous and respectful. Your response indicates your gratitude to the candidate for applying for the job.
You should also acknowledge the gesture because not all applicants do it. A recent survey found that less than a quarter of applicants sent a thank you note after an interview. But 80% of human resource managers said a thank you note is helpful when reviewing candidates.
Offer a quick response to an interview thank you email
It is important to respond to the thank you email as quickly as possible. Your response should not take a lot of time, so do it quickly. Ideally, your response will be within 24 hours of getting the thank you email.
If you are away from the office and cannot respond that quickly, explain the situation. Let the candidate know that your response was delayed because you were out of the office.
Acknowledge the candidate
Remember, this is a professional and courteous email response you are writing. Start by thanking the candidate for sending the note. It is a nice personal touch to thank the candidate by name as you start your response.
In this email response, you will likely take a more professional tone. You can use a courtesy title and their last name for a more formal response. Let them know quickly that you appreciate their courteous email thanking you.
Perhaps a simple “you are welcome” can start your response to interview thank you email. You might also want to reiterate that you appreciate their work and commitment.
Identify yourself clearly in your response
You should make sure in your response that you are clearly identified. You want to make it easy for the candidate to find your contact information in the response.
You can consider including your name in the email subject line. You could also add your name and contact information to the top of your email for easy reference. The idea is to make it as simple as possible for the candidate to access your information.
Keep your response brief and positive
It is true that job candidates often see the thank you note as a way to gauge their prospects. Perhaps they will receive a response that encourages them about the job. But you should make sure to remain positive without leading a candidate on about a job.
The best approach is to simply keep your response to interview thank you email brief. You can maintain a positive tone in your response without hinting about the candidate’s chances. Thank the candidate for their time and let them know you appreciated meeting them.
While your response should be professional, that does not mean it should be impersonal. Use a personable tone when responding, but do not be too casual or familiar.
You should not feel as if your response needs to be several paragraphs. It is fine if it is only one sentence.
Consider your response a chance to followup
Some job candidates will use their thank you email as an opportunity to ask questions. You should respond as briefly as possible to any questions asked. If you are not able to answer certain questions, let them know.
You might also consider using your response as a way to provide additional information. For example, the candidate may have asked questions during the interview you could not answer. You can include those answers in this follow-up email.
You can also include any additional information that you did not discuss during the interview. This is an opportunity to provide new information or elaborate on something referenced earlier. For example, you can include details about what is next in the process.
Avoid these things in your response
It is important to treat this correspondence as you would any professional exchange. The fact that it is in writing should prompt you to be even more cautious. Do not become complacent in your approach because your response is in the form of an email.
Do not hint in any way to favorable or unfavorable impressions about the candidate. Your response should be narrowly focused on the actual interview exchange. Simply acknowledging the time they gave preparing for and attending the interview is enough.
Do not make any reference to other candidates in any way. If the candidate asks if there are others being interviewed, all you need to say is the process remains open. You also should not reference any urgent internal need to fill the vacant position.
Review your response carefully
Before you hit send, make sure you review your response to interview thank you email. Make sure it is clear that this is your response. Consider changing the subject line on the email if you want to emphasize something, such as important followup information.
As with any professional correspondence, make sure you correct any grammatical errors or misspellings. Double check the spelling of the candidate’s name to ensure you used the correct name. This type of error may make the candidate unnecessarily worried or offend them.
Remember this when responding to a thank you email
Again, it is important to keep the response professional. While you may have enjoyed a playful and pleasant interview exchange, keep your written response professional. It is not appropriate, for example, to use emoticons in a professional response.
This can be a concern if you know the candidate or have a personal relationship. It is even more important in that case to maintain a professional tone in your response to interview thank you email.
Examples of responses to thank you emails
Here are a few examples of responses you can consider to thank you emails. For a brief, polite response:
- “I had a great time as well. It’s good to come across new people and learn new things. We will reach out if we have any questions.”
If you are responding to a thank you email that includes a questions, consider:
- “Thank you for your generous response. It was a pleasure for me too! As to your questions, yes we do offer overtime opportunities. If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out.”
If you are using your response to answer questions and provide additional information, consider:
- Thank you for such a nice response. We appreciate the time you gave us for the interview. We loved the meeting as well and we are grateful to know that you enjoyed the experience. As for your question, yes, we do offer overtime opportunities. Also, you should know that our interview process includes two more meetings that we will schedule at a later date. Thank you for your time. Let me know if you have any more questions.”