Interviewing & Thank You Notes

Interviews

The definition of interview is "to see each other mutually." Therefore, it can be said that the purpose of an interview, especially as it pertains to job searching, is to provide as much information about you as a potential employer needs to know (and that you need for them to know), and to acquire as much information as possible about the employer, so that each of you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you are the right person for the job.

Your resume has made it through the screening process, and the employer is looking for someone with your credentials - the objective part of the process is finished. Now the prospective employer wants to meet you in person. From this point forward, all decisions about you are going to be purely subjective. The first impression you make on the interviewer is of the utmost importance. They will notice immediately if you are dressed professionally, speak articulately, seem confident, knowledgeable, alert, motivated, etc. It is perfectly normal to be nervous before such an experience, but if you come prepared you will soon feel at ease and be capable of handling the interview as a conversation.

In preparing for an interview, make sure to refer to the CSO's Interviewing Guide for helpful preparation tips, sample questions that might come up in an interview, and more. 

Thank You Letters

Thank you letters are written expressions of your appreciation for the time, information, and/or recommendations given to you in a formal or an informational interview, during a particularly helpful phone call, or even through a great e‑mail message. Thank you letters are appropriate to send to employers, potential employers, contacts, professors, and anyone who has helped you with job leads, recommendations or suggestions for your job search.

Do thank you letters after a formal employment interview make a difference in whether or not you will be hired? Probably not. It's unlikely that a thank you letter would persuade an employer to hire you when they wouldn't otherwise do so. Thank you letters can even work against you if they contain misspellings or grammatical errors.

However, because it's the polite and respectful (and professional) response to give after an organization has taken the time to interview you, thank you letters are recommended in the later stages of the job search. In fact, there are employers/interviewers who may believe that you are not interested in the job if they don't receive a thank you letter.

Because applicants in the legal arena usually meet with several attorneys and staff within an organization, the question of whether a thank you letter should be sent to each individual often arises. This is strictly up to you. If you had great conversations with each interviewer and would like to comment on those, you might want to write to each individual. However, in this case, each letter should be different. Do not simply send the same letter and change the name and salutation. If you prefer, you may also choose to write to just one individual. In this case you might want to choose the attorney who shepherded you through the process; the attorney with whom you spent the most time; the person with whom you seemed to have the best rapport; or the attorney who had identified him/herself as the senior member of the hiring committee. When writing one letter to one organizational member, also ask him/her to convey your thanks to the other attorneys with whom you met and name those individuals.

A thank you letter may be in the form of an email or a hand-written note. Again, no typos!

Qualities of an Effective Thank You Letter

  1. A thank you letter should be sent in a timely manner. Don't let writer's block get in the way of your quick response! Sending out a letter within 24-48 hours is best.
  2. The letter should be brief, well‑written, and thoroughly proofread.
  3. The letter should convey your sincere thanks. In addition to expressing your thanks for the employer's time and information, it's ideal to refer to something you especially enjoyed talking about in the interview. You can also mention your continued interest in the organization if the letter is following an employment interview.