First of all, definitely send a thank you note. Not 30 minutes after the interview; it will seem insincere. But no later than 24 hours.
As for the content – show you were listening. Highlight anything they said that left you with a 1) strong positive impression of the school, and 2) anything you felt particularly resonated with your values or strengths.
In addition, note something you might have forgotten that you think is important now that you’ve reflected on the conversation. A datapoint you think would help establish fit/rapport.
I encourage my applicants to be as specific as possible. For example, “When you mentioned XYZ, I thought to myself XYZ.” It will be more meaningful than a generic statement such as, “It was great to hear that the culture there is collaborative.”
When it feels natural, quote or paraphrase them to show you are capable of listening to other people and their experiences. This makes you more attractive as a learning team member, because nothing is worse than having a self-centered learning team member. A lot of these alumni are, in part, out to protect the experiences of their future alumni.
And finally, many people ask me what it means if they don’t get a reply to their thank you note. Have they been dinged? Or if they do get a reply, does that mean they are in?
Well, if they send back something like, “Rooting for you!” it might be unlikely they submitted negative feedback, unless this person is a straight up sociopath. But I don’t want to scare thank you senders who don’t get a response.
Many interviewers feel it’s important to be proper: avoid any illusion of bias or “hinting.” Writing back might not seem proper to them. They are afraid of attracting an applicant-stalker. Who knows.
But, keep in mind they might smile to themselves when receiving your note. In sum, write the note. It’s a way to solidify your value proposition in their mind and to show them you “get it” when it comes to the business world and being civilized.
What To Write in a Thank You Note?
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