What to Avoid in Your Interview Follow-Up Email

After an interview, it’s generally a good idea to send a short but thoughtful follow-up email to your interviewer(s) to not only thank them for their time, but also to reiterate why you’d be a good fit for the role and team, and remind them of where you shined in the interview. These thank you notes are generally pretty innocuous and thought of as a bit of a formality, but there are a few ways they can go wrong. Here are five things to avoid in your interview follow-up:

Spelling or grammar mistakes

This should go without saying, but just because you had a strong interview doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gotten the job. An oversight like a spelling error or the wrong company/role (if you’re sending multiple thank you’s) could indicate that you’re not very detail-oriented—or perhaps worse, that you don’t care much about the outcome of the interview. Before you hit send, triple check your note for any errors to avoid coming off as careless.

Apologies or excuses

Thank you notes are not the place to make up for poor interview performance. If it didn’t go well, the reality is that either 1) the team will make the decision not to proceed with your application, or 2) they’ll choose to ignore your mistakes or weaker answers because of your other answers and qualifications for the job. Further, bringing weak points up will just draw attention to them as the team is evaluating the various candidates you’re competing with for the role. Instead, focus your messaging on where your application stands out and any unique qualities you will bring to the company.

Salary, timeline, and role concerns

Even if you’re concerned about what the salary offer might be, it’s best to reserve this conversation until after an offer has been made, as bringing it up before then might push the team to extend an offer to a different candidate who might be more accepting of a lower salary. The same goes for things like start date, contract length (if it’s not a full-time role), and any concerns you might have about the suitability of the role (unless they’re significant enough to make you question the role in the first place).

One exception might be if you receive another job offer with a set decision date. Including this shorter timeline in your thank you note may help to push the decision forward—and companies will generally understand that the situation is out of your hands.

The same note to multiple interviewers

It can be tempting to copy and paste the same note to all of your interviewers, particularly if you’ve spent a day there and met with multiple people. But it’s not uncommon for teams to share the follow-ups they receive internally, so take the time to personalize each message. If you’re sending multiple thank-you’s, not every note has to reiterate why you’d be great for the job; perhaps you bring up an interesting point one interviewer made, while you remind another of a specific skillset or experience you’ve had that makes you a strong candidate. 

That said, don’t use the extra time needed to personalize thank you’s as an excuse not to send them to all of your interviewers. Even if you have one key contact such as the hiring manager or a recruiter, anyone who took the time out of their day to meet with you deserves a short follow-up email. 

Any other superfluous information

An interview follow-up is meant to serve as a thanks and a reiteration of your skills and excitement for the job—period. Other information, such as sending over references or asking about reimbursements for interview expenses (if this was something that was agreed upon in advance)— can distract from the key points. Additional issues or questions can be addressed in future emails or phone calls, so keep your immediate communications clear and focused on the take-home point: The strength of your application and interview. 

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.