As the candidate selection process comes to an end and you narrow your options to one top contender, you’ll need to prepare to make a formal job offer. Generally speaking, most offers are extended first over the phone or in person and then via formal written documentation, like a job appointment email.
In other words, don’t write a first interview letter assuming your recipient will jump at the chance to meet with you or talk to you. This relationship is in its earliest state right now, so above all, your letter should reassure your candidate that the company is a great place to work, the position is appealing, and your interest in the candidate is genuine and personal.
That means, for one, you’ll need to customize your letter for each interviewee. Just as a demanding message can be a turn-off, so can a cookie-cutter message. As you write a first interview letter, put yourself in your candidate’s position and recognize that your offer likely isn’t the only one on the table – so they’re under no obligation to accept your request.
Here are a few simple steps and tips that can keep you on track as you write a first interview letter or template.
How to Write a First Interview Letter
1. Organize and format.
Before you write, have a clear understanding of where your document will take you. Prepare to keep your entire message under one page, and plan to write a short, friendly introduction, followed by an announcement of your invitation, followed by the details of the meeting, and finally, a resource where your reader can obtain further information.
2. Begin with a greeting.
As you write your first interview letter, start by thanking your reader for showing interest in the job and the company. You can draw this message out or keep it contained within a single line of text, but your tone should imply one important detail: You know that your reader may have plenty of job search options and you appreciate the time and attention they’ve devoted to your enterprise. Something as simple as: “Thank you for submitting your resume and applying to join the Qualco Team!” Or: “Thank you for responding to a call from our recruiter!”
3. Deliver your invitation.
Whether your recipient accepts your invitation or not, it’s always nice to be invited to something, and an invitation is always (in some form) a gesture of generosity. At the same time, your invitation should be humble. You’re not issuing a summons or an imperious command. Don’t order your reader to report to the appointment and don’t act as though you’re offering a valuable gift. Simply allude to the mutual benefit of a potential relationship.
Here’s an example of a DO: “Your background is impressive and your resume suggests an alignment with the needs of our open position, so we’d like to invite you in for an interview at our corporate office in Busyton.”
Here’s an example of a DON’T: “We’re offering you a one-time-only opportunity to attend an interview with our management staff. We expect to see you in our corporate office where we will determine if you have what it takes to work for us.”
4. Provide clear instructions.
It’s considered polite to offer at least two potential meeting times so your guest can easily work the interview into their schedule. Offer two (or more) time slots, two potential days in which your interviewee can choose a time, or a suggested time that you leave open to renegotiation if your reader can’t make that appointment work.
While you do this, be clear. Don’t confuse your invitee. State the location of the interview session, complete with street address, so your reader can look up directions and transportation options. If you’ll be reaching out by phone, clarify which party will be expected to make the call—you or your invitee.
5. Ask for confirmation.
In a friendly and welcoming tone, ask your reader to contact you (or someone else) by email or phone to confirm that they’ll be attending the interview. Provide the contact addresses and appropriate hours in which this person will be available to respond to requests. Your simple message might sound like this: “You appear to be an excellent candidate for this position, so we sincerely hope you’ll consider this opportunity. If you have any further questions about the interview session, the position, or the company, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me using the contact information below. We look forward to hearing from you!”
6. Sign off politely and prepare to follow up.
Close your letter with a respectful sign-off and signature, complete with your own job title or role in the company. Provide contact information as promised by your earlier paragraph.
After you write a first interview letter and send it off, don’t simply assume that the candidate will take action without further prompting. If you don’t hear from your recipient within a few days, reach out to them again. If you’re truly interested in obtaining the best talent in the marketplace, don’t allow your message to slip through the cracks. Sometimes the best candidates are those who are busy or those who are are sifting through multiple offers, and these candidates may need prompting and follow-up.