How to Write Practical Post-Interview Thank-You Notes

Regardless of where you are in the process, preparing to become a PA often involves a lot of hurrying and hustling followed by long stretches of waiting.

Like when you send out dozens of shadowing requests then patiently await the responses. Or when you spend weeks or months preparing your CASPA application and personal statement then, after you submit, hold your breath for what feels like years waiting for interview invites. Or when you know you nailed an entrance interview and use the weeks that follow to obsessively check your phone for missed calls, hoping for an offer.

While those waits can feel like endless stretches, there are ways to spend at least some of them in productive endeavors that serve your overall mission of becoming a PA.

Following PA program interviews, writing interview thank-yous is an excellent way to spend your wait, assuming you can uncross your fingers long enough to knock them out.

In this post, you'll learn how to approach post-interview thank-you notes as well as exactly what to say in them.

Whether to send thank-you notes

Most questions around sending post-interview notes are not about how to write them or who to send them to but, rather, whether to do them at all.

Let me start by saying interview thank-you letters are not likely to increase your chances of getting into PA school. And they should not be a last-ditch plea for why you're a good candidate.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't do them!

Notes of appreciation are a social grace — something adults should send after any type of interview. Gratitude shouldn't be contingent on an offer. Other humans deemed your experience worthy of a more in-depth look and wanted to get to know you better. They spent time and effort to meet you. Thank them for that.

Too many candidates debate over whether or not to send thank-yous for so long, that the window to do them slips away. Use this to your advantage.

Many interviewees will not send a note of thanks, so sending one can only work in your favor to demonstrate you're a considerate person who might be nice to be around.

What to send

You'll find some strong opinions about whether a hand-written card or email is best. I've seen arguments that PA faculty members may be a little old school and not great with email, and, therefore, that a hand-written note is best.

 How to Write Thank-You Notes After a PA School InterviewlBe a Physician Assistant

I think this is a bit much.

Faculty members aren't ancient and are often not much older than applicants. As practicing PAs, they’ve operated electronic medical record systems more complicated than the programs used in the first space shuttle launch. It's a bit condescending to believe that they can't handle this new-fangled email technology of the early '90s.

The person receiving your email or note is giving out neither bonus points nor demerits for your choice of communication medium.

So, I believe the choice is simple. If you expect the committee to make a quick decision, try to send an email to ensure it gets there promptly. If you know the decision may take a bit longer, you can choose to send an email or a physical card, whichever you prefer.

One suggestion I've seen from those in the only-a-physical-card-will-do camp is to hand-deliver thank you cards immediately after an interview is complete.

Though this plan solves the problem of a delivery delay, throwing a hot-off-the-presses thank-you card into the hands of your interviewers 10 seconds after your interview is complete runs the risk of seeming as if you put 10 seconds of thought into it.

Don't overcomplicate it: email for fast decisions, your choice for slower ones.

Who to thank

Who you choose to send your thank-yous to can differ depending on the format of your interview.

If you met with faculty members in a one-on-one style interview, you should send each faculty member you met with an individual a note of thanks.

But, if you had a panel or group interview and writing a thank you to each person feels forced, then a different approach may be appropriate. If you shared more information or connected with someone in particular, feel free to send them a personal note and, perhaps, a group note for everyone. Or just a group note for everyone if you had no notable connection.

If your interview was a bit less personal and you're struggling to think of who you'd write a note to, there are still options. Most interviewees communicate with an admissions counselor or a program coordinator when they receive the interview details. Send this person a thank-you for their help.

They probably don't get many thank-you notes from applicants for their work, especially if they are not part of the actual interview. But, this person will likely be the one you follow up with later for any updates you want to share or receive.

Lay the groundwork for this future exchange by expressing your gratitude for their efforts. You can also ask if they wouldn't mind acting as a point person for a group note — send them a personal thank-you as well as a group thank-you to be shared with your interview committee.

What to include

After taking too long to mull over whether to send thank-yous, not being sure of what to write is the next most common reason to abandon the effort.

But, no one expects (or wants) a long-winded thank-you, and writing a focused, concise note is simple.

Before we cover what a thank-you should include, let's first discuss what it definitely shouldn't include.

Your note of thanks should not act as a substitute for any information you neglected to share during your interview.

Because a thank-you note doesn't serve to increase the odds of your acceptance, it should not be used as a means to tell your interviewer something more. Attempting to do so turns your thank-you into one that is self-serving when the note should merely be a conduit for your appreciation.

Plus, rather than trying to turn your note into an advertisement for why you're a good pick and, instead, focusing on gratitude simplifies your message and makes the writing of it more manageable.

Let's start with a general thank-you that can be used for individuals or groups.

[Interviewer name],

Thank you so much for meeting with me on [interview day]. It was a pleasure to learn more about the program, and I am excited about the possibility of joining [school name] and training to become a passionate, committed PA who is ready to serve my community and advance the profession.

I look forward to hearing about the next steps, and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

You can essentially copy and paste this structure for any interview thank-you that you might need. But, if you want to highlight particulars about a one-on-one interview, you can pepper in a bit of detail from your discussion.

[Interviewer name],

Thank you so much for meeting with me on [interview day]. It was a pleasure to learn more about the program and hear about [the student participation in the free clinic/opportunity for an international rotation/co-learning opportunities with other health professions students/whatever other specific came up during your discussion], and I am excited about the possibility of joining a program that shares my value of [community service/personal growth/group learning/other value that aligns with the program-specific highlight].

I look forward to hearing about the next steps, and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can provide additional information.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

Lastly, be sure to thank the person who provided you with the details and instructions leading up to your interview.

[Program coordinator/admissions counselor name],

Thank you so much for setting up my interview and for your communication around my interview on [interview day]. I understand coordinating the details for all the interviewees is an undertaking, and I appreciate your efforts in making sure I had all of the information I needed for my big day.

I am excited about the possibility of joining [program name] and hope to have the opportunity to [meet you/see you again] in the future.

Sincerely,

[Your name]

When to contact programs

Sending your thank-you notes should be viewed as the equivalent of a balloon release — they go out into the world, and hopefully, someone sees it, and it makes them happy.

It's okay that you never know if that's true. You shouldn’t expect a response, and also shouldn’t follow up to see if someone received your note.

However, there are a few instances when it's okay to follow up with programs after an interview without hounding that poor admissions coordinator whom you just thanked. Those reasons include:

  • Legit updates: you’ve completed a required prerequisite course or other admission requirement and need to update the program.

  • Your notification date has passed: a program said they'd let you know by mid-November and it's now November 27.

  • It's been over three months: if a program didn't provide a definitive "we'll notify you by" date and at least three months have passed, you've been patient, and it's okay to check in if you haven't been told not to do so.

Notice, "just curious" isn't on the list. You will be curious. And even if the post-interview wait is four days, it will still feel like a long time.

But if you've completed and sent off all of your post-interview thank-yous and you're wondering how to spend your time, improving your application is a worthwhile way to use it.

Growing your experience will help you to either have a more meaningful update for when you follow up with programs on the selection status or better prepare you for your next application cycle, should a future one be necessary.