After all that preparation and research, you’ve made it through the job interview. You’ve highlighted your skills, showed enthusiasm for the role and asked intelligent questions.

Now just don’t forget the next step: Sending a thank you note.

“They are required for all interviews,” said Mary Abbajay, president of Careerstone Group. “No one is not going to hire you because you sent a thank you. It’s never going to hurt you.”

Thank you notes not only show gratitude, but also keep you top of mind and provide another opportunity to re-emphasize your skills or follow up on something that came up in an interview.

“At the end of the day, we aren’t working with robots. Half the battle in the workplace comes down to interpersonal relationships and if you are already signaling that you care about relationships and not just a paycheck, it elevates you a little higher,” said Jena Viviano, a career coach.

Paper or electronic thank you note after an interview?

An email thank you note is perfectly acceptable, preferably sent within 24 hours of the interview.

Hiring decisions can occur quickly — especially in this job market — so make sure your note gets to the receiver in time.

If you really want to make an impression, send an email and follow it up with a written letter.

“When you really want to stand out, that is when you send the paper thank you note,” said Elaine Swann, founder of The Swann School of Protocol. However, the content of the email and the note should differ.

Who gets a thank you note after an interview

The interview process often means meeting with multiple people. That means you have to stay on top of everyone’s name and contact information.

It helps to ask the recruiter or hiring manager who you will be interviewing with ahead of time so you can do some research on each person and look up email addresses.

If you end up interviewing with people unexpectedly, offer your business card at the end of the meeting and ask for theirs in exchange, or request their contact information.

If you are meeting with several people individually, they each should get their own personalized note.

However, if it’s a group interview, it’s acceptable to send one note to multiple recipients.

“Don’t put everyone’s name on the [greeting],” advised Swann. “That’s where you reference, ‘to the team.’”

If you get home and realize you don’t have a name or contact, request the information from the recruiter or hiring manager.

Don’t forget to send a note to the person who helped coordinate the interview, thanking them for their time and effort.

What to say in a thank you note

Thank you notes don’t have to be long.

Start off by showing gratitude: Thank the person for taking the time and consideration, and then move on to highlight a specific part of the interview and show your interest in the role. Note how excited you are about the opportunity and why you would be a good fit. Finally, end by saying how you are looking forward to the next steps and share your contact information.

“Add something that will jog their memory about the interview,” suggested Swann. “Even if it’s something from some small talk about a particular sports team … put them back in the room with you.”

The interview went really bad…

Not all interviews go well. But you should still send a thank you.

“You still want to leave a positive and professional impact,” noted Abbajay.

The same is true if you eventually decide the job isn’t really the right fit.

“It’s fine to say that — and then even more important to send a note of gratitude,” she added.