Overcoming Obstacles

Lesson 4: Following the Interview


  • Students will recognize the importance of following up after an interview.

  • Students will identify the elements of strong thank-you letters.

  • Students will write thank-you letters.

  • Students will recognize the importance of follow-up telephone calls and will practice such calls.


  • Session 1: Two boxes containing the same item, one beautifully wrapped and the other covered in tattered newspaper (Starter)

  • Session 1: One copy of the “Interview Thank-You Letter” activity sheet for each student (Part II)

  • Session 1: One copy of the “Parts of a Business Letter” activity sheet for each student (Part II)

SESSION 1 | Starter (3 minutes)

Hold up the wrapped boxes. Ask students which of the presents they would want to receive. Students will respond that the beautifully wrapped package makes a better impression. Reveal to the class that both boxes contain the same item, but, as the class noted, the beautiful wrapping is more desirable and makes that package more appealing.

Explain to students that when they close an interview and follow-up, they need to make a good final impression. Explain that it just might make them stand out from the crowd.

SESSION 1 | Part I: The End (20 minutes)

Purpose: Students learn the importance of interview follow-up.

1. Students identify the final steps of the interview process.

Explain that the next step of the interview process is to find out when the company expects to make a decision about hiring. Suggest that students ask an interviewer one of the following questions before leaving:

  • Would you like me to follow up with you next week?
  • Can I expect to hear from you or may I contact you?

Explain that if an interviewer states that they will call, students should make clear when and where they can be reached.

2. Students learn to conclude their interview with a thank-you.

Tell students to imagine that they answered every question well during an interview because they were prepared. Ask students to describe what they would do as the interview is ending.

Remind students that their interviewer has taken time out of the day to find out more about the student, so it’s important to acknowledge that. Elicit from the class that this is the time to thank the person for the opportunity to meet with them and learn about the company. Point out that this is an appropriate time to shake hands again.

3. Students practice what to do at the end of an interview.

Ask students to find a partner. Explain that the pairs will have five minutes to practice the following steps to ending an interview well:

  • State when and where the employer can reach you.
  • Ask about making a follow-up telephone call.
  • Thank the interviewer for their time.
  • Shake the interviewer’s hand.

Have the partners take turns playing interviewer and interviewee.

When students finish, ask them to identify what was done well and what could be improved.

SESSION 1 | Part II: Thank You, Thank You (25 minutes)

Purpose: Students identify the elements of strong thank-you letters and incorporate these elements into their own letters.

1. Students recognize the value of thank-you letters.

Explain to students that even after they have left an interview, there is still more they can do to increase their chances of landing the job. Ask students to identify a step that they could take to impress an interviewer. (Students should say they have to write a thank-you letter.)

Tell students that the best time to write the letter is immediately following their meeting, while the details of the interview are still fresh in their minds. They should send out the letter a day or two after the interview.

Ask students to identify the purpose of writing thank-you letters. Establish that thank-you letters are an opportunity for students to emphasize their strengths as they relate to a job, add any information that they may have forgotten to mention, express appreciation to the interviewer, and reiterate their interest in a job opening.

2. Students identify the parts of a thank-you letter.

Distribute the “Interview Thank-You Letter” activity sheet to each student. Ask students to study it carefully and identify the parts of the letter.

Help students identify the heading, inside address, salutation, body, complimentary closing, and signature. Students should also recognize that they should use a computer to write their thank-you letters.

Distribute the “Parts of a Business Letter” activity sheet to each student. Read the explanations out loud. Explain to students that they are to keep and use the handout to help them write business letters in the future.

3. Students examine the content of a thank-you letter.

Explain to students that a good thank-you letter has the following content:

  • A thank-you comment
  • Confirmation of interest in the job
  • Reiteration of how the student’s strengths and talents relate to the job
  • Any further information that may be helpful or important
  • A specific reference to the interview
  • A statement confirming the student’s willingness to answer any other questions
  • Follow-up information about where and when to contact the student

Ask volunteers to read the corresponding sections from the sample letter.

4. Students write a draft of a thank-you letter.

Instruct students to use the remaining class time to draft thank-you letters to their role-playing partners from Part I.

Explain that they will revise and polish their letters in the next session.

SESSION 2 | Part I: Thank You, Thank You (continued) (20 minutes)

Purpose: Students edit and revise their thank-you letters.

1. Students polish their thank-you letters.

Have students work with a partner to revise and edit their thank-you letters. Ask students to exchange drafts and read the letters twice. First, have them read for content and meaning. Then, have them read for errors in spelling, mechanics, capitalization, grammar, and business-letter format. Instruct them to write suggestions and corrections neatly on the draft.

2. Students write a final draft of their thank-you letters.

Ask students to write a revised copy of their thank-you letters. Suggest that students keep their revised thank-you letters as a model to modify and use after a real interview.

SESSION 2 | Part II: Make the Call (25 minutes)

Purpose: Students learn the importance of follow-up telephone calls.

1. Students learn the purpose of a follow-up phone call.

Explain to students that a follow-up phone call has a purpose similar to a thank-you letter. Ask students to identify how the two are similar. (Students should mention these similar components: an opportunity to emphasize their strengths, provide additional information, express appreciation, correct any false impressions that may have been created in the interview, etc.)

Have students suggest possible topics for discussion in a follow-up telephone call. (Students might suggest: ask if the interviewer received the thank-you letter; ask if the interviewer has any more questions; reemphasize strengths and talents; express continuing interest in the position; correct or improve any impressions that were not favorable.)

2. Students practice follow-up telephone calls.

Have students work in pairs to write scripts for follow-up phone calls. Allow students 10 minutes to use these scripts to practice placing the follow-up phone calls.

Have two or three pairs who did especially well present their phone calls to the class. Ask students to critique the performances and point out what was done well.

SESSION 2 | Conclusion (3 minutes)

Ask students to explain the roles of thank-you letters and follow-up phone calls in interviews. Elicit from students the following key points that were taught in this lesson:

  • In ending an interview, it is important to be confident and to thank the interviewer for their time.
  • A post-interview thank-you letter provides an opportunity to reemphasize strengths and to clarify any points made during an interview.
  • A follow-up phone call is an opportunity to express continuing interest in a position and allows an interviewer to ask additional questions.

Student Assessment


  1. List three things you should say or do at the end of an interview.
  2. Why should you write a thank-you letter?
  3. What should be in a thank-you letter?


  1. Why should you make a follow-up phone call after an interview?
  2. How are follow-up phone calls and thank-you letters similar?
  3. List four possible questions or topics to discuss in a follow-up call.

Extensions for Lesson 4: Following the Interview

Using Quotations


“A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls…just to save it from drying out completely.” —Pam Brown


Have students talk about the “mulch” of friendship and the ways in which this idea can be applied to business relationships.

Addressing Multiple Learning Styles


Have students write rap lyrics that reiterate their qualifications and thank their interviewer.

Have volunteers read or perform their lyrics aloud. Have students explain why reiterating their qualifications is important.

Writing in Your Journal


Have students write about the importance of a thank-you they gave or received.

Have volunteers share their work in small groups.

Using Technology


Have students visit www.cover-letters.com. There are many sample letters on this site, including various thank-you letters.

Have students summarize one letter from the site, stating why they think the letter would (or wouldn’t) help the writer get the job.



Have students write a thank-you note to a mentor or community member who has made a presentation to the class.

Have volunteers read their letters out loud and talk about how important it is to let people who’ve been helpful know that their efforts are appreciated. Tell students to exchange and proofread their letters.

Additional Resources


Have students review The Art of Thank You: Crafting Notes of Gratitude by Connie Leas to investigate how to write thank-you notes.

With the class, chart similarities and differences between personal thank-yous and those written for business purposes.

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