Thank you notes for aviation interviews: a good idea or bad?

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For those of you who are old enough, you’ll probably remember Thank You Notes as something you were forced to do after birthdays and Christmases when you were little.  A task that has sadly been overtaken by phone calls, text messages and emails, Thank You Notes for most people are either something they’ve never done or something that they are grateful has fallen out of fashion.  However, Thank You Notes can be a really useful tool when it comes to standing out in a crowd after an aviation interview.

Picture the scene; you’re the interviewer or the person responsible for making the decision about who to choose after a long session of interviews.  At interview there were two candidates that stood out from the rest.  Those two candidates had very little between them and you’re really struggling to choose.  Then your pile of mail arrives and in amongst it is a well thought out, and appropriately worded Thank You Note from one of the candidates.  In that Thank You Note, the candidate politely thanks the interviewers for taking the time to interview them and also neatly covers off a topic that they felt they didn’t address too well at interview, with a slick, impressive and commercially astute reply.  Yes, you get it and you don’t need me to point out that one of those candidates has suddenly swung things very firmly in their favour. 

In this setting a Thank You Note isn’t just a polite way of showing that you have real compassion and professionalism, but it also helps you win the heart and mind of your interviewer, leaving you ahead of the crowd.  It mightn’t guarantee you the job of course, but even if you don’t get that job, it does stand you in good stead for future vacancies that may arise.

However, a poorly written Thank You Note can do you more damage than good.  If you try to adopt a standard style of Thank You Note to fit every interview situation, you really could end up shooting yourself in the foot.  So, if you are going to use a Thank You Note to help you stand out in the mind of the interviewer, here’s what you need to bear in mind:

  1. Be specific.  Make sure it refers specifically to the interview you’ve attended.  Avoid general Thank You Notes at all costs because they are likely to make you look lazy.

  2. Don’t backtrack.  It’s rarely a good idea to use a Thank You Note to try to right wrong doings at interview.  If you’ve made a real blunder at the interview, don’t try to paper over the cracks with your note.  Instead, either choose to not send a note on that occasion or use it to highlight one of the strong points of your interview.

  3. Get personal.  Make sure your note is appropriate for the person and the company you’re sending it to.  Taking into account the personality of the interviewer and the culture of the company will help you tailor the note more appropriately.

  4. Be timeous.  If time is of the essence, take the chance to send your note by email as well as by post so that if fast decisions are being made, you won’t miss the boat.

  5. Last chance corral.  If you have anything that you didn’t get the chance to say at interview that you think might have swung chances in your favour, use your note as the time to say it, but say it softly and humbly.

So, are Thank You Notes a good idea after an interview?  In our mind, they can do you lots of favours if you plan them well, but like anything in your job hunting armoury, if badly done, will stand out like a sore thumb.  As a result, we’d suggest you go with your gut feel on the appropriateness of a Thank You Note for the people and the company, and if you decide to go ahead, invest the time required to make it a memorable one!

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