How Do I Get an Address For That Thank You Note?

College Interview Thank You Letter

By Peggy Wallace, Making Conversation
05/06/2015
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When you interview with an alum, you may be responding to a phone call setting up the time and place. You may only have their phone number. How do you get their contact information (e-mail or snail mail address) for your thank you note?

First, before you meet anyone for an interview, Google or search LinkedIn for their name. It is a standard part of good preparation. Even though you do not reference something you found out about them online; this knowledge may assist you in moving the conversation in a positive direction. After all, if they are a doctor/lawyer/engineer and went there as an undergrad, and you too want to be a doctor/lawyer/engineer, isn't that a fertile field for discussion? Wouldn't it be a shame if you never asked them what they do now? A good interview is a good conversation. It is a mutual sharing of information. It is perfectly logical that your shared interest would likely be discovered, you are just helping it along.

Two scenarios:

Most likely, it was a great interview and you really established rapport. Your talking points naturally flowed in the conversation and their recounting of fond memories of their college experience made you feel like old friends. In fact, you really aren't even sure of the spelling of their last name. (This can be obviated by asking people "might I get your last name again?" or asking for the "correct" spelling. People ask me is it "Wallace" or "Wallis" all the time. There are many alternative spellings for even the most ordinary name, Smith, Smyth.) At the end of the interview ask, "If I have additional questions, may I contact you?" They will be flattered and usually offer their business card or give you their e-mail. If they don't offer their card or e-mail, and say "Oh, just call me," you might say, "I don't want to disturb your day, would there be an e-mail address?" If they say, oh, no problem, "Call any time!" Fess up. Don't make them uncomfortable. "I'd like to reflect on what we talked about and write you a thank you note, you've been so very generous." Or in the alternative, you can take the uncertainty out of the equation and your first question could be, "If I have additional questions, may I contact you by e-mail?" Of course, this way you cannot send them a snail mail note, but the e-mail will work well.

Unlikely, but it can happen, it was a rather perfunctory or rushed interview. You suspect that the person won't really want you to get in touch with them. You did not establish rapport. You feel very uncomfortable asking for their card. Or, if you ask to get in touch, they say, "oh, contact the admissions office." Indeed at this juncture you are past uncomfortable, so drop it. The next morning contact the admissions office, explain the situation in its best light (you did not get contact information) and ask them if you can send him a thank you note "care of" the admissions office. Taking the initiative might burden the overworked folks in the admissions office; however, they will be positively impressed by your class and grateful, respectful attitude.

What happens when you meet someone through the admissions office and you don't get their information? Let's say you lose that piece of paper that had your overnight host's e-mail or your tour guide's school e-mail address. Same situation, contact the admissions office. You are trying to do the right thing and as busy they may be, they will respect your good manners. BTW, if ever there were a good reason to be organized and carry a portfolio with paper and pen, this would be it.

In this connected world, there are many avenues to pursue to find information. Most people are aware that information can be accessed through careful internet research, so they shouldn't be too surprised when they get a thank you note.



Article by Peggy Wallace, founder, Making Conversation

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