The Art of the Thank You Note

Congratulations! Exploring the interview thank you note means that you’ve either had a phone or in-person interview, and that in itself is worthy of celebration. Now, in order to positively seal the memory of you in the hiring manager’s head, a perfectly crafted thank you note is essential.

The Opening

It may seem obvious or like an afterthought, but correctly addressing the hiring manager’s name, or whomever you met with, is essential. Erring on the side of formality is better, too. You may have overhead colleagues address the hiring manager by a nickname or shortened version of their name, but this is best left for once you have been hired.

A good rule of thumb is to use the name that appears in the person’s email signature.

The spelling of the name is highly important as well, as this shows attention to detail and attentiveness.

The Content

The overall goal of the thank you note is to thank the person or people who took time out of their day to speak or meet with you, while also conveying yourself as a competent and engaging candidate. The sentences you write should be genuine and authentic; not boilerplate language that is recycled for use after each interview. Briefly touch on why you can see yourself in the role and the skills and experience you would bring to the table along with how your personality would be a good culture fit for the organization.

The Timing

Due to the fast-paced nature of the job market, it is imperative to send the thank you note on the same day as your interview or, at the latest, the beginning of the following day. You want to remain top of mind with the hiring manager(s) who may have met a few people that same day.

When a great candidate sends a heartfelt and timely thank you note expressing continued interest in the role, organization and potential colleagues, the positive benefits cannot be understated.

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Interview Wardrobe 101

Preparing for an interview can be stressful. Not only are you focusing on impressing the hiring manager(s) with your skills, experience and personality but you have to assemble the perfect outfit that conveys that you are a competent and polished professional. Don’t allow your clothing to be an afterthought because if they were not appropriate, they will do the talking for you long after you leave.

Dress to Impress

It is no secret that you want to dress to impress for your interview not only for the hiring manager(s) but everyone else that you meet, from the receptionist to the C-suite executives you may pass in the hallway. “Who is that?” asked by the CEO as he happens to pass in the hallway about you will get you noticed quickly.

The Suit

Wearing a suit should be considered standard for an interview. If the position is in a corporate law firm or professional service environment, you will fit right in. If the role is within more of a creative company, you will stand out as a candidate who takes their job opening seriously and intends to make a good first impression. For men, the suit should be accompanied by a matching tie and dress shoes. For women, it can be paired with an appropriate shirt and business shoes; a dainty, understated necklace can tie everything together.

The Iron

Remember, if your clothes are not pressed, the effort you put in to assemble the perfect outfit will be lost. Trying everything on beforehand and setting them aside in your closet will save you the stress of finding out last minute that the suit you wanted to wear should have been dry cleaned after your cousin’s wedding!

Accessories

For women, the dainty necklace can add a nice flair to your outfit and showcase a pop of style. A professional watch can also be a nice choice. Other than additional small rings and possibly a thin bracelet, jewelry and accessories should be kept at a minimum as you don’t want them to serve as a distraction. When writing notes during the interview, you don’t want your chunky bracelet to clank repeatedly on the table. Nor do you want to be fidgeting with your necklace that has gotten tangled in your shirt.

For men as well as women, keep your phone on silent and in your purse or pocket. Making sure you remove sunglasses from the top of your head is also paramount as it can really have a negative impact on some hiring managers. Keeping the amount of items you walk in with to a minimum is also important, as you want to give the impression that the interview is a central part of your day and not part of a longer string of appointments or interviews.

Colors

A good rule of thumb is to stay away from overly bright colors and or garish patterns in your outfit. The color palette of white, blue, black, beige, brown and red is a safe bet.

There are a lot of things to consider when mulling over a job change or accepting your first job. Conducting the interview in a fantastic and appropriate outfit will put the odds in your favor as you impress everyone with your personality and skills!

Ace That Interview

Whether you are pounding the pavement for a new job and/or career change or just want to brush up on your interview skills, Friedman Williams believes that preparation for an interview, whether in-person or via phone, can exponentially increase your chances of moving on to the next step in the hiring process.

How to Prepare Beforehand:

  • Fully read and absorb key content on the company’s website, including:
    • Office locations and ballpark number of employees
    • Names and titles of senior management
    • Names, titles, and background of people you will be interviewing with (including their LinkedIn page!)
    • Mission Statement
    • Company history
    • Recent important news, press releases and/or events
  • Have fresh copies of your resume and any other requested documents
  • Reflect and refresh yourself on your job history and experiences. Have examples prepared of your ability to overcome adversity, work independently and in a team environment, and specific ways your skills and experience match the job
  • Refresh yourself on what your day-to-day is like in your current job and what you are truly an expert in (could be technical skills as well as situational)
  • Have a compelling and sincere reason as to why you want this position at this company. The hiring manager will respond to personality, energy and motivation as much as how technically able you are.
  • Prepare a few questions so you come across as engaged and interested in both the role and company.

Day-Of Essentials

  • Have your resume and any other requested documents with or in front of you
  • Wear a suit, even if it is a phone interview. This will make you feel more confident and in turn your speech and language will come across at a higher level than if you were sitting on your couch in sweatpants.
  • Do not arrive more than 5-10 minutes before the interview and treat everyone you meet with a friendly demeanor. You never know if the hiring manager(s) will ask the receptionist his/her opinion of you or how you behaved.
  • Great the hiring manager with a smile and firm handshake. If a phone interview, smile and answer “This is {your name}.”
  • Answer every question to the best of your ability and do your best to let your personality, ambition, motivation and technical skills match you to the role and company.

 Make Your Impression A Lasting One

  • Follow up with a thank you note for each person you met during your interview. Reiterate your interest in the position and company and why you see yourself successful in their culture and environment.

Position Profile: Executive Assistant

Basic Scope of an Executive Assistant’s Duties:

  • Serve as gatekeeper to executive with both people and information
  • Manage communication and correspondence with a highs sense of confidentiality
  • Timely alert executive with relevant news, updates and messages
  • Manage complex calendar, meetings and itineraries
  • Serve as host to visitors of the office
  • Manage transportation and trip details as well as updates and changes
  • Manage finances by drafting expense report and other necessary financial reporting
  • Think ahead and present suggestions and tips to executive to ensure seamless flow of daily tasks

What are the usual requirements of an Executive Assistant?

  • Bachelor’s degree, dependent on the organization
  • Strong written and verbal skills
  • Strong organization and resourcefulness
  • Ability to think on your feet and be a problem solver with minimum instruction
  • Sense of decorum and confidentiality
  • Strong ability to multi-task and be proactive
  • Software and other technical skills will vary depending on the organization but often include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook
  • Flexibility to work after hours and be reachable when necessary

How does an Executive Assistant differ from an Administrative Assistant?
An Executive Assistant has an enhanced role and directly supports an executive of the company as the first point of contact for the executive’s office. The scope of duties is often more complex and rigorous and focused on one executive, as opposed to an Administrative Assistant supporting more than one person. The Executive Assistant is also privy to a larger scope of sensitive and confidential information about the organization and executive and will need to exhibit a high degree of decorum and professionalism at all times. Depending on the organization, an Executive Assistant may mentor and or supervise Administrative Assistants within the same department as the executive.

What education is usually required or most beneficial?
This all depends on the organization itself and the type of industry but generally speaking, a Bachelor’s Degree is usually preferred or required. If the job description notes that a degree is required, there is typically no room for negotiation. In terms of specific areas of study, all education can be relevant and useful if presented the correct way. If a candidate has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and applies for an Executive Assistant role at an accounting firm, that will be of interest to the employer. If a candidate is a recent graduate with a Bachelor’s in English and conveys strong writing ability and communication skills in the interview, that is relevant and helpful.

What is a typical salary range?
Salary can vary greatly depending on the organization and industry. For example, a nonprofit will pay a lot less than a law firm or financial sector organization. What a candidate should keep in mind when considering salary is how the overall quality of life will be in the position relative to the salary, such as benefits, commute, etc.

What will give me an edge when interviewing for an Executive Assistant role?
Prior Executive Assistant experience is always helpful and a plus, but the necessary qualities and characteristics of the position must be conveyed in the interview. Supplying these through exact examples of past experiences and work product is the goal. With such a key position as this, oftentimes personality, presentation and demeanor are as important as technical skills. If the executive doesn’t feel he or she can trust you with sensitive information, you will not be offered the role.