The Interview Thank-You Note

Writing an Interview Thank-You Note:

The other day a former colleague contacted me via twitter with a question:  what are my thoughts on interview thank-you notes. The conversation went something like this:

Colleague: Been reading your posts about job interviewing. I’m on the job market. How do you feel about follow up, hand-written thank-you notes to the search committee? They seem awfully precious to me, but lots of people do it now. Is it now required?

Me: To be honest, I hate interview thank you notes. I find them the epitome of sucking up and have always given the writer something of a downgrade when I receive one. But I’m not sure this universal. Perhaps it is the cynical New Yorker in us?

Colleague:  I’m so happy to hear that. I’ll ask around. Honestly, I can’t imagine that if a candidate was so great ppl want to hire her that they wouldn’t because she didn’t send a precious hand-written interview thank you note. I don’t like to receive them either.

How Do Others Feel About Interview Thank-You Notes?

Was it just us who felt this revulsion toward the post interview thank-you note? I decided to poll the ALA Think Tank, a Facebook group with over 15,000 members, about their thoughts on the post-interview thank-you note. I simply posted, “What are your thoughts on the interview thank-you note?” I received 22 responses, the overwhelming majority were pro-thank you note.

But, these replies were largely written by job-seekers as opposed to people doing the hiring. Job seekers tend to feel that hiring managers love thank-you notes and in many cases, it is the interview thank-you note that clinched the job offer for them. Only 4 replies were obviously from hiring managers. One wrote, “I notice when I don’t get one.  If the candidate was outstanding it is ok, but with a marginal candidate, it might make a difference.” Really? I personally wouldn’t hire a marginal candidate under any circumstances. A polite marginal candidate is still a marginal candidate. Another wrote that it’s a nice touch but it would only stand out in her mind if only one candidate failed to write one. A third said she noticed if she didn’t get one. The fourth hiring manager wrote, “I don’t care about them at all and wold not give any weight to whether a candidate sends one or not.”

I also received a handful of responses to the query when I posted it on LinkedIn–and every one was pro thank you note. So, what’s an applicant to do? You have no way of knowing if someone you interview with loves thank you notes or, like my colleague and me, finds them a bit distasteful and sycophantic. But maybe we just find them that way because we have only ever received sycophantic thank you notes? Perhaps if I received a genuine, authentic thank you note, rather than one that was pro-forma, I would be impressed by it, too. And this really is a question, not a snarky comment on any specific thank-you notes I received. My advice is to write a very heart-felt, genuine thank you note: sit calmly and quietly and think about what it is you got out of the day. Write an honest, genuine note of appreciation and gratitude. And probably, rather than writing a formal, hand-written note, send it via email. When it comes down to it you really don’t know how the person who interviews you feels about interview thank-you notes. Writing a genuine, informal note can’t hurt, right?

How Do You Feel About Interview Thank-You Notes?

What is your opinion on post interview thank-you notes? Please share your thoughts by clicking on the speech bubble to the right of the blog post title (or click “leave a reply” at the end of the post), then click the tiny orange speech bubble to the left at the bottom of the post. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *