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How to Write a Thank You Note

6 Must-Know Rules for Applicants

In the fast-paced environment that field medical affairs can be, taking the time to write a thank-you note may seem frivolous. But this isn’t the case. While you may have a history of writing thank you notes and often not receiving a response, this doesn’t mean that your interviewer doesn’t take notice. Emailing a thank you note will show good follow-up (an essential function of the MSL role), will remind the hiring manager of who you are in what could be a very deep candidate pool, and, if done well, could flat out help you rise to the top of the candidate pool. How to write a thank-you note – 6 must-know rules for applicants’ reveals what you need to know. Let’s review!

Write one

Rule number one of writing any thank you note is to not neglect this act of etiquette. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a hiring manager won’t notice or won’t care about which candidates do or don’t write a thank you note. Even if you personally think that thank-you notes aren’t important, there are plenty of hiring managers that do, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

You spend so much time preparing for an interview and trying to make a good first impression, why throw that all away by making a bad last impression? Even if you’re on your third phone interview with a member of the MSL team, write a thank you note.

Use proper spelling and punctuation

This seems like a no-brainer but you would be surprised at how often typos work their way into a thank you note. Keep in mind that how you follow-up with a thank you note is how the interviewer will assume you follow-up with your thought leaders in the field. Always read through the note a couple of times before sending it, especially if you’re typing it on your phone. You never know what erroneous autocorrects may have been made while you were typing.

The sooner the better (but not so quick that they’ll think you had it prewritten)

There is no need to wait 24 hours or any other predetermined amount of time before sending your thank you notes. Outside of sending your note so instantaneously that it appears pre-written, it is best to send it as soon as possible. It shows that you are the type of person that is quick with your follow-ups with your KOLs and it shows that you are generally prompt in completing tasks at work. Also, think of how good it will look if you are the third person a hiring manager phone interviews but the first to get your thank note sent over.

Be conservative

No matter how well your interview went, even if it seems like your interviewer is your new best friend, the thank you note needs to stay professional. Don’t let the content stray from job-related topics – you don’t need to rehash any personal stories that may have come up during the conversation. Again, how much you stray from the boundaries of professionalism could be seen as a predictor of how professional you stay with your KOLs.


There is an unscientific middle ground that your thank note should meet at length. You don’t need to write a full-page but a simple “Thank you for your time today. I look forward to hearing the next steps.” isn’t sufficient, either. Make the note succinct enough that you can be sure its recipient will have the time to write the entire note but make it long enough to include the key components, which leads us to…

Express gratitude, reference something positive from the conversation and express interest

These components are what make up the “formula” of an effective thank-you note. Tell your interviewer that you appreciated the time and information they shared with you during your interview, reference something from the interview (perhaps a pleasant surprise you learned about the company or some interesting news about a pipeline product), and, most important, express a genuine interest in the position. A candidate with all the right experience will only go so far if the hiring manager doesn’t think they’re actually excited about the position.

Are there any other rules you follow for your thank you notes?



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