You are here:

Resume Help/What to say to the main interviewer?


QUESTION: According to a book I read, in a group of interviewers, then there is always a person who is the main decision-maker.

This book said, after the interview, you should send a detailed email/letter to that decision-maker. In the email, you not only thank you for his time but also repeat the main points why you are the good candidate:

-I have done this
-I have done thatů

Do you think I should follow this advice? I have drafted such an email but feel it may be too long and I am not sure if anyone is interested. If he already likes my answers, then surely he already makes the decision? If he thinks my answers are not enough, then such an email is futile?

What do you think?
Thank you


You bring up a number of good points for discussion here so I'll take them in the order you've presented them.

First, I would dispute the statement that "there is always a person who is the main decision maker" if it is a committee situation.  I have interviewed hundreds of candidates over the years and most of the situations were as part of an interview committee.  In some of those groups, I was the committee chair and in others I was simply one of the panel members.  But in 100% of the cases, there was NEVER a situation in which one person's opinion counted more than any other person's.  Now, I readily concede that this is only my own personal experience and that there could be panel interviews where one person would dominate the decision-making process.  But my point here is that you cannot assume that, in a committee interview, one person's input is going to count for more than another person's viewpoint.  That may be the case - or it may not.  And no matter which scenario is the true one, you, as the candidate, will never know what is really going on.  No one is ever going to tell you ahead of time, for example, "we are a group of six, but this guy has the main say over who we hire."  

As to your second point, I agree with whoever wrote the book you read: you should send a letter.  However, in my own books, I specify a method by which you should do this.  When you get the call to schedule the interview, among other things you should find out how many people will interview you; how many people are a part of the actual interview.  Normally it is HR that makes the call for the scheduling, but it might actually be a committee member or the committee chair.  Pay attention when the individual introduces him- or herself over the phone.  Write the name down.  If it is HR, write that name down also.  In 45 years of doing this sort of thing, I have never had the person making the phone call refuse to tell me how many people would do the actual interview.  If it is one person, ask for that person's name.  If it is multiple individuals, ask if the caller will give you the committee chair's name.  Sometimes they will, sometimes they won't.  In my experience, the HR person will give you the name if s/he knows who it is (sometimes they don't).  If you get a name, write it down.  

You should then research this person.  Find out everything you can, download photos, news articles, awards, career history, etc.  Then - and here is the critical part, the point at which I would differ from the person who wrote the book you read - write the letter before you leave for the interview.  Thank that person (the single interviewer or committee chair) for the opportunity to interview, for the time given to you, and simply state that you will look forward to hearing from them on whatever date they gave you for their decision (you DID ask when they were going to make a decision - right?) and then end the letter.  I would not reiterate your qualifications.  Make it a simple letter of thanks, put it in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and the first thing you do when you leave the interview site, mail it.  If you can hand it to a secretary to be put in the person's mailbox, so much the better.  If not, then put it in the mail immediately.  You should have identified the closest mail drop to the interview site as part of your pre-interview reconnoissance.  Your letter of thanks will probably be the first one received, will be appreciated as good manners, and could help your chances when the time comes for a decision.

I disagree that it is okay to send an email.  Email is, by its nature, impersonal.  You need to make this letter a personal expression of your gratitude.  Email is also just another bit of clutter in a busy person's already-clogged inbox.  It is possible that your personal letter may be the only bit of personal mail that person gets all day - and, trust me, it will be appreciated.  In all the years I did interviewing, do you know how many letters of thanks I got from candidates?  Zero.  So, be a hero and send the person a letter because the chances are that your competitors for this job won't do it.

If you have already drafted long email, delete it.  Write the letter and get it out today.  Make it very simple and brief.  It is a "thank you" and nothing more.  The last thing anybody wants is an overly-verbose thank you letter.  It defeats the very purpose of the document.

So, you asked me what I thought.  I think I have given you my thoughts - and experience - on this point.  If I have missed anything, feel free to contact me here at AllExperts or at the email address below.

Best wishes,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


I agree with all of your points.

However, in my situation, this was a telephone interview as we live in different countries. So I think the email is the only option.

In this case, then how long should the email be?

Thank you

Hi Ben,

From the context of your previous question, I thought you indicated this was an interview panel, but perhaps I misunderstood your question.

In the case of a phone interview, a brief email would probably be appropriate.  However, the length suggestion still stands: make it a brief thank you of three or four sentences.  Nothing more.  

Hope this clarifies things.

Best wishes,

Resume Help

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

Past/Present Clients
Thousands of individuals

©2017 All rights reserved.