This is one of the toughest questions to think through during your in-house counsel job search (or any professional job search, for that matter). Should you send a follow-up note – either by email, or hand-written – after you interview?
There are different schools of thought here, but I’ll give you my personal opinion: I would not. And here’s why: if you are professional, respectful, and courteous during the interview, and the interviewer’s mind is made up one way or another, a thank you note can’t help you. It can only hurt you.
For example, say you draft up a thank you email and, inadvertently, make a spelling error. Or spell the interviewer’s name wrong. Or some other little thing goes wrong with the email. All of a sudden you’ve sunk your own battleship when – in some cases – the decision to bring you back was already made in your favor! In-house counsel positions are highly coveted and the competition is always fierce. Don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when you need every advantage in order to move on to the next round.
Now, in a real “do as I say, not as I do” type of teachable moment, I will confess to you that I have, in fact, sent follow-up thank you emails before.
Sometimes I used my gut and felt like it was called for (the interview clearly didn’t go that well, and I had nothing to lose, or the hiring manager told me I should come back and meet with the business).
So, here are a couple of sample template emails that you can use to thank your interviewers if you find yourself in a similar situation (or if you just don’t agree with my philosophy on this):
[Name of your interviewer],
Thanks for taking the time to speak with me yesterday. I am very excited about the possibility of joining [name of company] and working with you. I look forward to meeting [other team members/business or ops people, etc.] as we discussed. If there is any additional information I can provide to you, please let me know.
Here’s another version I’ve used (specifically if you are a law firm associate looking for your first in-house gig, as I was when I sent this email).
[Name of your interviewer],
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. I am very excited about the possibility of transitioning into an in-house position with a company like [insert name of company]. Please let me know if there is any additional information I can provide to you. I look forward to hearing from you.
These are both very short, very sweet, and right to the point. I don’t think it makes sense – if you do decide to send a thank-you email – to write much more than this. Again, this is not the time to be wordy or try and show off – you can only hurt yourself, as in all likelihood the decision whether to bring you back for a second round interview has already been made.
You should take cues during the interview too. Sometimes the interviewer or hiring manager will ask you to return for a follow-up meeting. And some companies don’t run their recruiting centrally, so you won’t be dealing with an HR business partner. In those cases, I think it can make sense to follow up with an enthusiastic and genuine note of thanks in order to keep the ball moving.
What do you think?