Medical School Interview Thank-You Letters: What you Need to Know

November 24, 2022


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 6/16/22

After going through the extensive process of sending your applications, receiving your MCAT exam results, and completing your interviews with admissions committee members, you’re probably aching to know if there’s anything else you can do to better your chances of acceptance. 

While it’s true that much of the heavy work on your part is complete, taking that extra step by sending a medical school interview thank-you letter is a small yet powerful way to stand out among equally admirable applicants. 

And, considering the significant annual increases in the number of applicants in recent years, it would be folly not to punctuate your medical school interview with a follow-up thank-you note that will exemplify your special initiative and professionalism. 

There’s nothing to lose by sending a thank-you letter, but there is a small yet significant advantage to be gained. This post will explore the qualities of an effective medical school interview thank-you letter, as well as the many minute considerations that surround such a powerful, gracious gesture.

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What are Med School Interview Thank-You Letters?

A medical school interview thank-you letter is exactly what it seems to be: a brief, professional and personalized note articulating your appreciation for the time and effort exerted by the admissions committee member during the interview process. 

Your letter must express your sincere gratitude more than anything else. Of course, you can subtly reiterate why you are a suitable candidate for the med school in question, but this more self-serving imperative should only background the central thankfulness of your letter.

Dr. Raquel D. Arias, the Associate Dean of Admissions at Keck School of Medicine, warns that “Applicants who speak in their own voice, without “spin,” [are] especially valued.” So, a med school interview thank-you letter is not an appropriate place to flex your salesmanship muscles to the point of straining them. 

A sincere thank-you is more than enough to reach your recipient. It will keep you fresh in his or her mind during the evaluation process. Many schools keep thank-you notes in an applicant’s file, where the correspondence is later read and considered alongside the rest of the applicant’s relevant information. 

In and of itself, the gracious gesture is a way to get a leg up over the competition.

Still, it’s one thing to have an advantage over applicants who haven’t sent their own thank-you letters, but it’s another thing entirely to one-up even those other hopefuls who likewise took the extra initiative. 

To stand out amongst the most diligent few, you will have to craft a thank-you note that impresses the committee through its professional voice, its clear articulation of your ambitions, and its ability to call to mind your unique interview experience.

When to Send an Interview Thank-You Note

By sending a post-interview thank-you letter, you display the kind of professional bearing that admissions committee members want to see from future students. In keeping with that professional conduct, you’ll want to be prompt and send a thank-you note to the proper recipients as soon as possible. 

Namely, you should aim to send off your completed and polished letters the immediate evening after their corresponding interviews or, failing that, at least within 24 hours of the interview.

Considering the fact that you will potentially send several personalized thank-you letters per interview, this time crunch may seem daunting. Still, the advantages of impressing the admissions committee member when your letter arrives before they have completed your evaluation will make it well worth suffering through the self-imposed deadline.

However, to meet your 24-hour goal, you’ll need to cut down on any extraneous dwell time. An effective way to save time is to obtain all the relevant logistical information you need prior to sitting down to write the actual letter. 

The first thing you should know is the name and contact information of the recipient of your thank-you letter. Aim to write a letter to anyone whom you’ve had a significant interaction with during your interview. Of course, this means you’ll be sending an appreciative note to any admissions committee members you’ve met, but also include any other helpful faculty, staff, or even students if there’s time to spare.

If you haven’t gone through the actual interview process yet, make sure you remember to politely request a business card or email address from your interviewers sometime before saying your farewells. You can also always consult school websites for faculty emails, or reach out to the admissions office to request any necessary contact information.

Handwritten vs Email Med School Thank-You Letters

Dr. Arias also notes that admissions committee members “infer the desired applicant qualities from both the content of the application and the care with which it is delivered.” This rule, pressing the importance of a quality delivery method, should also apply to your medical school interview thank-you letter.

So, is an email or a handwritten note more appropriate for a med school interview thank-you letter? Well, there’s much to consider when weighing the impressively becoming quality of a handwritten thank-you letter against the impressively speedy quality of an email. Let’s begin by exploring the pros and cons of a handwritten note. 

Handwritten Med School Thank-You Letters

It’s undeniable that immaculate cursive longhand on fine writing paper will stun any recipient before they even begin to scan through its content. The presentation of a well-crafted handwritten letter serves as an immediate, visual articulation of your sincere gratitude. 

In effect, such a letter suggests that the recipient is well worth the extra time and energy it took to perfect a physical thank-you note.

But therein also lies the issue with the handwritten method of communication: it requires much more time and effort than your 24-hour soft deadline may allow. This is because a handwritten letter is less streamlined than the digital alternative.

First off, a physical letter means you must spend both time and money on buying appropriate stationery. Lined notebook paper won’t suffice for a med school thank-you note, so you’ll have to invest crucial writing time browsing a stationery store for proper writing materials.

If you do choose to write your thank-you letter longhand, be sure to begin writing your early drafts in a word processor so that you can benefit from the easy structural and line editing only a screen and keyboard can provide. 

Even then, it’s likely that you’ll have to go through several passes at handwriting the letter since there is no room whatsoever for illegible or even semi-legible print. Also, note that it takes 15 seconds to write in clear longhand a sentence that takes a mere five seconds to type.

Then, after all that time and effort, a physical thank-you note entails mail delivery, which is all too prone to unexpected delays and even lost items. Your best bet is to hand-deliver the letter to the admissions office yourself, though that isn’t always a viable option with more distant schools.

While a handwritten medical school interview thank-you letter certainly stands out, it also entails a whole host of often problematic micro-considerations. If you feel as though you’re able to circumvent the special challenges a handwritten note brings, it will make for an impressive gesture. 

Still, the visual appeal of such a letter will almost certainly come at the cost of a later-than-optimal delivery to your recipient.

Email Med School Interview Thank-You Letters

An email interview thank-you letter lacks the visual and tactile delightfulness of its handwritten alternative; it has less of a chance to stand out by virtue of its appearance alone. 

However, this should not entirely dismiss the email thank-you note. The ease of writing, editing, and sending that is natural for a digital letter can help make up for its lackluster appearance through more polished text and a speedier, more reliable delivery method.

When drafting email thank-you letters, you’re able to create a template that will hasten the writing process, allowing you to personalize each of your letters by simply altering a few crucial names and clauses. The digital medium also means you can easily fix typos, structural issues, and grammatical issues. The result is a thank-you letter with more well-crafted content.

Once the expedited writing process is complete, an email thank-you letter can be sent directly and immediately to your recipient’s inbox, without any risk of unforeseen delays or missing messages.

Though an email may not dazzle as readily as a handwritten note, the more refined quality of the email’s written content and its reliable, instant delivery method more than make up for the visual blandness of Times New Roman on a screen. 

At best, a handwritten yet late thank-you note is a superficially beautiful thing. A prompt and polished email, on the other hand, evinces the professionalism and initiative that admissions committee members actually take into consideration.

Structure of a Medical School Thank-You Letter

When planning out the structure of your medical school interview thank-you note, it’s a great idea to begin by crafting a letter template. This way, you’ll avoid the grueling process of having to reconstruct the general structure of each and every one of your thank-you notes. 

A template allows you to tweak and personalize each letter through simple line editing techniques, dramatically cutting down on dwell time and ensuring all your letters get sent within your 24-hour deadline.

Yet even with the aid of a template, you must carefully consider the proper structure of a thank-you letter — the kind of calculated and flowing structure that will best express your gratitude and professional bearing to the recipient. 

That is the delicate balance that must be struck with your letter: a tone that is both formal and emotionally evocative. These two sentiments can only be expressed alongside one another through a solidly woven letter structure.

The Greeting

Since this is a formal letter, you’ll need to use the proper letter format. That means your interview thank-you letter must open with a respectful yet not overly familiar greeting. 

Don’t overthink this stage of your letter. A tried and true “Dear Dr. X,” is better than any creative alternatives. Just make sure you always open with the word “Dear,” followed by the recipient’s relevant professional titles and surnames (never their first name).

Body Paragraph(s)

Now, on to the actual body of your med school interview thank-you letter. One of the best ways to communicate your respect and appreciation to your recipient is by keeping your letter brief, between 100 and 200 words. In doing so, you are saying that you value the recipient’s time and only wish to deftly express your gratitude.

This appreciative sentiment should also guide the general course of your letter’s body. It is always a solid approach to begin the letter with a direct thank-you for all the time and energy your recipient has invested in guiding you through the interview process.

You’ll want your interview thank-you letter to stand out and remind the recipient about their time interacting with you. The best way to accomplish that is by referencing your specific shared experience. 

Refer back to a memorable anecdote, piece of advice, or program detail that sets your shared experience during the interview process apart from all other applicants your recipient might have also seen. This has the added effect of assuring your recipient that you’ve paid close attention to the actual meeting, so much so that the particulars of the interview are fixed in your mind. 

Once you reference the particular conversation you’ve had with your recipient, it’s a simple thing to transition into a reiteration of your interest in the school, or better yet, a specific program. 

Reiterating your interest in a specific MD program not only demonstrates how serious you are about joining the institution’s academic community, but it also allows you to articulate your professional ambitions at the school and beyond. In no more than a sentence or two, you can try to sell yourself as a prime candidate.

The Sign-Off

As you near the close of your thank-you letter, you’ll want to keep the line of communication between you and your recipient open. This can be accomplished by a statement as simple as, 

“If you require anything else from me regarding my application, please do not hesitate to reach out through this email address.” 

Doing so may help the recipient help you, inviting them to contact you with any information that might increase your chances of acceptance.

Much like your opening, your closing needs to reiterate your profound appreciation. Another message of thanks should immediately precede a professional sign-off, keeping with proper letter format. This sign-off should include your full name and any appropriate professional titles.

Tips for Crafting a Post Medical School Interview Thank-You Note

Though your medical school interview thank-you letter should only run between 100-200 words long, you still have to balance many little considerations to craft an impressive correspondence. Here are some tips to keep in mind while writing:

Be Thankful Yet Professional

Remember that the main intention of a thank-you letter is to say, “thank you.” Be expressive in your gratitude while also balancing that sentiment with a more formal voice. Remember, admissions committee members are notably interested in how you can conduct yourself as a rising professional.

Edit for Grammar and Spelling Several Times

Irene Tise, the admissions officer at Wake Forest School of Medicine, warns that “There are no excuses for punctuation and grammatical errors.” A single typo or misplaced comma will fracture an admissions committee member’s faith in your attention to detail and even call into question your sincerity. 

No matter how many times you write that you are thankful, the sentiment is destroyed if a single thank you is misspelled. Such an error suggests your recipient isn’t worth another editing pass.

To avoid such a blunder, go through your written thank-you note and edit it several times. Use some tried and true proofreading techniques, such as:  

  • Reading aloud
  • Having a trusted secondary reader proofread for you
  • Reading through the entire letter backward

This last tactic may sound odd, but it’s an effective way to catch typos you may have missed in your first few read-throughs.

Personalize Each Letter 

More than anything, you want the admissions committee member reading your letter to feel the sincere gratitude you’re trying to articulate. This can be achieved by manufacturing the letter to appeal to that particular recipient, namely by referencing specific anecdotes or other conversation details unique to your shared meeting.

You may want to tweak the letter template you’ve made to personally appeal to each of your individual recipients. Just be sure to get all the proper names and details changed and sent to the right person.

Use the Thank You Letter to Footnote Your Interview

Writing a post-interview thank-you note is a great way to supplement your actual meeting with the admissions committee. It provides you with the chance to elaborate on any additional, salient information to help an admissions committee member give you a glowing interview evaluation. You can hint at some additional experience related to your professional ambitions or reiterate your special interest in a particular program.

Still, you must avoid making the bulk of the thank-you letter about yourself. Devote no more than 1-3 deft sentences to selling yourself, retaining most of your 100–200-word limit to express your thankfulness.

Write with the Particular School’s Mission Statement in Mind

Medical schools are often transparent about their conception of the ideal alumnus. In every part of the application and interview process, you must assure the medical school that you have the potential to become the exact type of future alumnus they desire. 

Check the school’s website to research its mission statement, then write a thank-you letter that makes a connection between your own experience or personal values and the ostensible values of the institution. For instance, if your prospective school aims to make the world a better place, feel free to briefly mention some relevant volunteer experience.

Med School Follow-up Letter FAQs

A perfect medical school interview thank-you letter is achieved by many small things done right. For your benefit, we’ve put together a list of questions you may have regarding the all-important small things, with answers on how to get them done the right way.

1. To Whom Should I Send a Post-Interview Thank-You Letter? 

You should prioritize sending a thank-you letter to any and all individuals who conducted your interview. This means you’ll be sending a note to admissions committee members and perhaps some faculty and staff, if applicable. 

If you have some extra time, don’t hesitate to send a letter to anyone who may have helped you through the interview process, even helpful students. This will serve as your first step into that particular academic community. 

2. Where Can I Find the Contact Information I Need? 

Before saying farewell to your interviewers, request a business card or email address so you know the best way to reach them. If you forget to get their contact information during your interview,  you can always check through school websites for faculty and staff emails or simply reach out to the admissions office and ask for any needed contact information.

3. Is It Necessary to Send a Post-Interview Thank-You Letter?

A medical school interview thank-you note is not an official requirement for acceptance. However, there is so little to lose by sending an appreciative email and so much to gain. 

When weighing your application and interview details against that of another equally adequate applicant, a gracious thank-you letter could be the small yet fateful difference that convinces an admission committee member to favor you.

4. Should I Write a Handwritten Thank-You Note?

A handwritten letter is sure to impress any recipient, though it is a more time-consuming and less reliable medium than a simple email. A handwritten letter entails purchasing sufficient stationery, a more difficult writing and editing process, and delivery through a physical mail service which is prone to delays and missing items.

If you are going to write a handwritten letter, aim to personally hand-deliver it to the admissions office of the appropriate school. If this isn’t possible, a sincere and well-crafted email is more than adequate.

5. Are There Any Other Post-Interview Materials I Can Send?

When waiting to hear back from a medical school, you can always update the school on any recent work or volunteer experience that may help them review your interview evaluation in a better light. This also has the added benefit of reasserting your interest in that particular medical school. 

Additionally, you can send a message called a letter of interest which more directly reasserts your interest in the school and argues why you’d make an optimal student. Or you can send a letter of intent, which serves as a promise that you will prioritize enrollment in that particular school above all others, should you eventually be accepted.

6. What Other Resources Can I Use to Write a Well-Crafted Thank-You Letter?

Using these Med School Interview Thank-You Note Examples for reference will dramatically cut down on dwell time, ensuring you can send all your thank-you letters within an impressively prompt timeframe.

Final Thoughts 

After your medical school applications and interviews, it’s natural to feel as though there’s nothing left to be done but wait and hope for the best. The truth is, there is so much more you can do to express your special initiative and increase your chances of acceptance. 

A small, sincere thank-you letter may not seem like much, but it will put you an inch in front of your competition, and a single inch may very well be the deciding difference.

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