How Do I Thank the College Interviewer?

College Interview Thank You Letter

By Peggy Wallace, Making Conversation

The world is fast-paced. Take the time to stand out from the crowd and maximize your chances for admission with a written "Thank You."

You likely spent quite a bit of time worrying about and preparing for the interview. Hopefully, more of the latter than the former -- the better prepared you are, the less worried you will be. When the interview is complete and you have thanked them for their time and parted with another handshake, do you just exhale a sigh of relief, "Whew, that's done" and escape? You could. However, I strongly recommend that you take the extra time to thank the interviewer again in writing. Yes, in writing. This does not mean that you go overboard and send a gift, flowers, candy, bottle of Champagne or anything which could be misinterpreted.

The person with whom you interviewed took time from his or her day to meet you. Even if it is an interviewer's job or a volunteer's pleasure to do the interviews, people like to have their effort appreciated. It may not be what you say, do, or wear that makes the lasting impression. How you made the interviewer feel (I recommend respected), makes the big difference.

The Basics

A meaningful thank you note, one that contains substantive references to the specifics of the conversation (one or two, if you have them, is sufficient) and reiterates your enthusiasm about the school, will reinforce that positive impression you worked so hard to present. To be most effective, it must be sent promptly.

E-mailed Thank You Note

An e-mailed thank you is perfectly appropriate. But, wait until you leave their parking lot, so it can appear to reflect some careful, considered thought expressing gratitude. If you want to attach a file or reference something relevant, so much the better, e.g. some recordings of your original songs or a reprint copy of an article that was published. However, send the e-mail before the end of that day, or certainly within 24 hours. Most interviewers, including regional alums, try to write up their interviews right away. You want them to feel especially good about you, before they press "send" on their report of your interview.

Snail Mail Thank You Note

If you decide to send a note through snail mail, make sure they get it by the next day. A handwritten note makes a standout impression. It can be sent in addition to the e-mail thank you. Make sure that both notes reference different observations or impressions of the topics discussed during the interview and highlight different aspects of your enthusiasm about the school. If the interview was with someone at the school, your handwritten note may go into your file, assuming they are not TOTALLY electronic. If they are online only, they may scan in your handwritten note! The recipient is likely to fondly remember your extra effort when he or she is discussing the merits of your application with the admissions committee and, hopefully, advocating for your admission. I ask my clients to travel with stationery and stamps, so they can mail the thank you note before they leave town! You might want to avoid a postmark from your next location, particularly if it is a city with a rival school. Some additional snail mail tips include the following.

• Use conservative, quality blank note cards. A cutesy, funny or satirical card may be misinterpreted. If you want to add your personal style, get something with a quiet border or tasteful design.

• You do not have to go to their bookstore and buy stationery with the school logo on it. Some clients like this, but to me it seems a bit presumptuous. You most certainly are not expected to have formal stationery engraved with your monogram.

• Do an outline of the points you wish to make in the thank you note. Then do a rough draft so you have the time to review the word choice and sentence structure.

• If you are not used to writing on a blank note card, do a test run on a lined piece of paper and then put a blank lined piece of paper under the stationery. If it is cardstock, you will not be able to see the lines underneath, so mark every other line showing on the sides as a guideline so you can make sure your writing stays horizontal.

Of course, any gratitude would be appreciated by the interviewer. As a volunteer regional alum for UPenn for over 25 years, I interviewed many applicants for admission. I can count on one hand the number of thank you notes I received during all those years.

Show the good manners you learned when you were a child. Thank the interviewer in writing.

Present your best self by being authentic and enthusiastically showing your own unique personality; open doors by winning with words.

Article by Peggy Wallace, founder, Making Conversation