How To Write a Thank You Letter for a Less Successful Interview

Updated March 16, 2023

Interviewing for a new job can be an opportunity to make a good impression on the hiring manager and, hopefully, begin in a new role. Sometimes, you might leave an interview feeling that it was a less successful experience than you might want. Fortunately, writing a good thank you letter might be able to help you recover.

In this article, we explain how writing a thank you letter can help in this situation, with steps and and example for inspiration.

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What is a bad interview thank you letter?

A bad interview thank you letter is a letter you write to connect with a hiring manager after an interview that may have been less successful than you had hoped. You may have woken up late, had a headache, underdressed for the interview or felt nervous enough that it impacted your responses, for example. A well-written thank you letter can help you recover from these common and understandable circumstances. You might be able to explain the situation and express your appreciation for the interviewer's time and patience, even under less ideal conditions.

Related: What To Do After a Bad Interview

How to write a thank you letter after a challenging interview

If you have experienced a challenging or less successful interview, try writing a thank you letter to possibly help increase your chances of getting the job. Here are some steps you can use to get started:

1. Choose a format

First, decide how you'd like to send your thank you letter. In some situations, it makes sense to use an email. This might be the case if you have already been communicating with the hiring manager electronically or if you know they prefer this form of communication. You may also consider sending a handwritten thank you note. This is usually a less common form of following up after an interview and might help make a distinct positive impression to help balance the interview experience.

Related: Handwritten Interview Thank You Notes: Do's and Don'ts

2. Identify your goals

Next, identify your goals in writing your thank you letter. You might want to clarify the circumstances and challenges that may have made the interview less successful, for example. You might also want to request an opportunity to meet again and try a second interview. Think about the best possible outcomes and use those objectives to guide your writing process.

3. Brainstorm details to include

Carefully consider what information you'd like to include in your thank you letter. If you want to explain the situation that caused your challenging interview experience, decide which details are the most compelling. Try to include just enough detail to provide background on your circumstances, and keep those details as relevant as possible. If you want to request another interview, brainstorm words and phrases you can use to do so politely and convincingly.

Related: 15 Brainstorming Exercises To Generate Ideas

4. Organize your letter

Decide how to organize your thank-you letter. You might review your brainstorm notes to look for patterns in your ideas. You can use these patterns to sort your thoughts into paragraphs. You might also choose a structure, develop an outline and fill it with ideas from your brainstorm. Consider using your most compelling information first or last in the body of your letter, because your reader might be more likely to focus on information in those locations.

5. Write a draft

Use the information you've organized to write a draft of your thank you letter. Be sure to include the appropriate amount of detail, and add transitional words and phrases to help connect your ideas. Try to use language that is cordial, professional and relatable.

6. Edit and send

Clean, error-free writing can help show that you are serious about a job opportunity and that you pay attention to detail. Because of this, it's important to edit your letter. It may be especially important to proofread carefully if you have had a less successful interview experience because your goal is to make a positive connection to balance the impression from the interview. Consider setting your letter aside and returning to it later, to possibly notice any typos or errors. You might also ask a trusted friend or mentor to read your letter and offer suggestions before you send it.

Related: 27 Proofreading Tips That Will Improve Your Resume

Example thank you letter after a less successful interview

To further inspire your own writing, here is an example of a thank you letter to follow a challenging interview:

Dear (Hiring Manager),

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me for the position of a customer service associate with your company. I truly enjoyed discussing your company's mission and values, and I'm excited about how I can use my customer service skills and background to support those goals.

I wanted to thank you again for your patience. I am so excited for the opportunity to work with your company, it was hard to decide what to talk about first! I assure you, in a customer service setting you can expect smooth, clear and consistent communication with every customer I help.

I would be grateful to be considered for this role, and I am confident that my skills and years of experience will serve your mission well. Thank you again for your time, and I look forward to your reply.


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Tips for writing a thank you letter after a less successful interview

Here are some more tips for writing a thank you letter when you feel like your interview might have been less successful:

  • Follow up quickly: A prompt thank you letter can help show your hiring manager that you are efficient and conscientious. A quick follow up can be especially useful when you are recovering from a challenging interview.

  • Consider different forms of contact: Consider the right form of contact for your situation. Use an email or handwritten note if it makes sense to do so. A phone call may be appropriate in certain situations as well.

  • Include the right details: Be sure to include a balance of information to support your candidacy for a role, even after a less successful interview.

  • Proofread carefully: Keep your writing error-free to show professionalism and attention to detail.

  • Focus on the positive: Perhaps most importantly, be sure to emphasize your positive traits and qualities in your thank you letter. You may wish to even avoid mentioning minor errors and lapses to help highlight your best qualities.

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