is it possible to send an interview thank-you note too quickly?

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A reader writes:

I have a question about thank-you letters after an interview. In today’s world of cell phones being able to do email, I can actually have the thank-you letter sent before I even leave the interviewer’s office. I literally just said thank-you and shook hands three minutes ago, and am sending the thank-you email already?

I try to include a comment about the conversation to try and remind them or to stay on their radar, but for the most part I can have the thank-you ready to go in a minute.

I recently adopted the rule that I should wait until the end of the day to send the thank-you. What do you think is the appropriate time frame for thank-you letters?

Well, first, any thank-you note is better than no thank-you note, regardless of timing. But since you asked: Wait at least a few hours. Any time between say, 5 and 48 hours post-interview is perfect. (But again, I’m only nitpicking because you asked!)

The reason it’s not ideal to send it just minutes after leaving the interviewer’s office is because it can feel a bit perfunctory — you haven’t even had time to reflect yet, you probably had the email or a template all ready to go before you even came to the interview, and you’re just checking off an item on your to-do list. And that may all be the case, but if you’re obvious about it, it feels less genuine.

From the interviewer’s perspective, the thank-you note doesn’t just signal manners; more importantly, it signals interest. I want to know that the job candidate went home, thought about what we talked about, digested it all, and concluded that she’s still enthusiastic about the position. That’s what getting a thank-you note tells me — as long as enough time has passed for that to be realistic.

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. Revanche

    I thought it was really weird that 80% of my recent candidates didn't bother to send any kind of thank you, recently, much less a too-quick one.

  2. Peter

    To Revanche: I think people generally do not send a thank you note after interview because at that point, it's actually employer's task to followup — to deny the candidate or to schedule more interviews or to send an offer. So the candidate is waiting for the hiring manager / recruiter / someone at the company to contact them. Because that's what's generally agreed at the end of the interview — "we will get back to you by the end of the week".

    The thank you note after the interview — well, I'd feel that I might come across as too eager, and be seen as someone who is trying to get an edge in the decision process.

    So I generally send a thank you note only after I've been declined — to show that I appreciate the time the recruiter and the people at the company devoted to me, and to show there are not hard feelings, and to show that I still might be interested.

  3. Phideaux

    Many of the positions I hire for are entry level and/or low skill positions, so in a lot of cases, a semi-legible application is the best I can hope for, let alone a thank-you note, but I do get them. The last positions I hired for, I received some thank-yous, and two of them were e-mails minutes after the interview was finished. For me, the thank-you didn't have much of an impact. It all kind of blended together, as if the note was just the thank you at the end of the interview. It didn't make me think back to them after I've had some time to go through all of the interviews. Incidentally, the person who did get hired sent a thank-you the day after the interview, and she was hired in part because the note jogged my memory about her and her accomplishments.

  4. Paul D

    I have to admit I would never have thought of sending a thank you letter after an interview if it wasn't for this blog. My initial reaction was that it smacked of desperation. Or of sucking up to the (potential) boss. But after thinking about it some more I reckon it's sound advice. The key is that the letter has to be (or at least appear to be) sincere – not just a stock e-mail that you send to every employer.

    If the company went out of their way during the interview – giving you a tour around the office or paying your travel expenses – then this should be easy. For plain vanilla interviews (maybe over the phone or a quick HR screen) it could be quite difficult. But I think you have to go sincere or not at all. Stock e-mails (and after 3 minutes what else could it be?) can do more harm than good. Like any correspondence with a company this is a chance to make an impression so why waste it?

  5. Erika Roe

    Once I went for an interview on campus (I work at a university) and by the time I got back from the interview I already had a thank-you note from my interviewer. It made me feel like I wasn't quick enough!

  6. Ask a Manager

    Peter, I've actually never heard anyone say that a thank-you note looks desperate or too eager! (If for no reason other than the fact that every job hunting manual or advice-giving authority recommends them as a standard part of the interview process.) The time to send it is definitely BEFORE rejection, when it can play a role in helping you get the job.

    I would also disagree that it's totally in the employer's court to follow up after an interview; if you haven't heard from them by the timeframe they gave you, you SHOULD follow up with them!

    I've written about the difference between enthusiasm and desperation here — might be useful:
    http://askamanager.blogspot.com/2008/04/enthusiasm-when-job-searching.html

  7. Class factotum

    We interviewed two women for a customer service position. We only interviewed the second one to make it look good because we were so sure we wanted to hire Janet, who was the secretary to a broker we worked with and whom we had all known for a few years.

    The second woman, Cheryl, wrote a thank you note to everyone who interviewed her. Janet did nothing.

    We decided Cheryl was the one we wanted representing the company to our customers. She got the job. Thank you notes can make a difference.

  8. Charles

    This is totally anecdotal and it goes against sound job seeking advice; But, I have never, NEVER gotten a job that I have sent a "thank you" card to. Never!

    One HR person even called me when she received the card to ask why I sent them (I sent a thank you card to each of the three people that I interviewed with). WTF?! I told her, as the card said, to thank them for their time and consideration. (I, of course, said it much nicer than that!)

    So, I think a thank you card is nice; But, despite claims to the contrary, I'm not so sure that it helps in landing a job. As I said, this was just anecdotal and against sounds job seeking advice.

  9. Anonymous

    I also would have thought before reading this post that sending a thank-you note for an interview was a bit weirdly over-persistent if the employer had said they would contact me next. Kind of like trading your number with a suitor, him saying he'll call you in a few days, and then you texting him later that night to say, "Thanks for the good chat tonight! Hope to talk to you soon!" It's certainly sincere and thoughtful, but it also smacks of a bit of desperation to me.

    I've never sent a thank-you note before and had someone missed the memo that this was standard advice given to job-seekers. Now that I have a job where I do hiring work, I get one every once in a while and I've always perceived them like the candidate is trying to force my hand or spur me to quicker action by inserting themselves back into dialog with me. It's not something that really irritates me, but I also can't say I've ever gotten the impression the person was merely polite and interested rather than making a calculated/strategic move to try to edge out the other applicants. Depending on the job that kind of calculating strategy may be a positive, neutral, or negative.

  10. Anonymous

    To anonymous right before me: I'm sorry but who could possibly not know that thank you notes are recommended by every job advisor out there? If you've read even the smallest amount on job searching, you'd know this. To think that there's someone doing hiring who penalizes candidates for sending thank you notes is shocking to me. Do your homework about the field you're in!

  11. Anonymous

    I wonder if this is a cultural thing? As someone who interviews in the UK I neither expect nor get thank-you notes (the only real exception being after final interview stages, and that tends to be when Ive given feedback). Id probably find it a bit odd and a bit try-hard to be honest.

  12. Heather Moore

    oops I screwed up my comment above.

    here's what I was going to say:

    Every job I've gotten I've sent a thank you note. And I send a hand written thank you note. I have it ready to go (ie I address it in the car and write it) and mail it so it goes out in that day's mail. It will get there the next day.

  13. Shawn

    I work as an HR Specialist/Recruiter for a nonprofit. I think AAM's advice about not sending the note right away is spot on. Doing that makes it look insincere. A good thank you note doesn't come from a template and can't be written in advance.

    I don't ever expect thank you notes. No one is penalized for not sending one. If I had to guess I probably get them from 10-20% of candidates I interview. I've never directly or consciously recommended a candidate for hire based on the thank you note (or lack of). A thank you note, no matter how nice, doesn't make up for being a poor fit.

    However, I do think sending a good thank you note can help differentiate between two qualified and hireable candidates.

    Notice I said a good thank you note. A good thank you note isn't really about thanking someone for the interview, although it will say that in there somewhere. It's not about forcing the hand of the employer, nor is it about simply reiterating your interest in the position.

    It's more about continuing to build that relationship by giving you an additional opportunity to be likable, show you understand the need of the employer, and show you have thoughts on how to best fulfill that need.

    It's amazing how many candidates go through the selection process without ever understanding what the job/company is really about. This happens even though we repeatedly work to explain the job/company (I'm sure not all companies do this). It's refreshing to see a candidate who "gets it."

  14. SamShapiro

    I always send a thank you email and sometimes a hand written note. A agree that 5 minutes after the interview is just wrong but later that evening or morning is perfect. I think it shows interest in the position.

  15. Anonymous

    Not all job seekers will send thank you notes post interview, and not all HR people send out the dear john letter. Ignorance goes both ways.

  16. Karl

    I like sending the two-stage thank you (send an email that evening so they get it while they're making a decision, and mail a note a day or two later), but it depends on the situation. If they respond to the email and invite me to another round, I might hold off on the paper note until later in the process.

    I don't think I've ever gotten a job or a consulting gig from sending notes, but it's good form.

  17. scott

    As an interviewer, I was always impressed by candidates that sent me a thank you note.

    The interview process is a process where you make a very important hiring decision from a very small snapshot of a person.

    In my opinion, the candiate that sends a personal hand written thank you note quickly after the interview gets "big bonus points" over a person that send an email thank you or no thank you at all.

    I'm looking for a candiate that makes an extra effort without being asked – and sending hand written thank you notes to every person that interviewed them is a great indicator that they are the type of person that I want on my team.

    In other words, sending a hand written thank you note is a very effective way to differentiate yourself from other candidates in a very positive way. Many times I've heard other interviewers say, "Did you see that note from Amy – that was really nice."

    The hand written note also has the advantage of being a letter that someone must open and hold. It won't get quickly deleted like an email.

    When I was interviewing for jobs a couple of years ago, I made a major effort to send hand written thank you notes and I got very positive feedback about that. If nothing else, they really remembered me.

    With my wife's advice, I used some distinctive but professional personalized note cards from fabulousstationery.com that added another level of "differentiation" to my notes. I got many comments about that – especially in my 2nd round of interviews.

    To summarize – send a hand written note the same day you have the interview to everyone that you talked to – via US Mail. The timing will be perfect. The note will arrive just as their recolection of your interveiw was starting to fade. Doing so will automatically put you in the top 5% of the people that interviewed for the job.

  18. Anonymous

    I want to know who started the trend of sending thank you notes out to employers following an interview. While I know what to write in one, to me, it's rather awkward. The interview is a part of the hiring process, and the interviewee has plenty of chances to thank the interviewer during the meeting.

    But since it's a "rule," I follow it.

    I have to agree with Anon 5:48 in which s/he states it goes both ways. We don't get a "thank you for your interest in our company" too often, and furthermore, there are some companies who never respond to you after an interview. It should be a two way street, and everyone should be impressing everybody, no matter which side you are on.

    Since some of us have been sharing personal experiences, the one time I didn't send a thank you (because I was reading the interviewer's body language which should a complete disinterest in the interview), I got the job. And then there was an interview I had and I still don't have an official word saying "sorry but no" even though their silence says everything – that was complete with a thank you note and a subsequent follow-up.

  19. Anonymous

    HR people are too busy to pick up the phone, actually read a cover page of a resume ( I read a study that showed only 20% hr managers bother reading cover letters) or return phone calls, I can't see how a thank you note is going to be a influencial factor to getting the job? Probably ends up quickly in the trash, shredder or delete box.

  20. Ask a Manager

    Okay, you guys who are arguing that people shouldn't bother with thank-you notes because HR people are too busy to do their jobs or because they sometimes suck at following up themselves are missing the point. There are PLENTY of annoying and unfair things about the hiring process. No one's arguing that there aren't.

    But if your goal is to get a job, you should do the stuff that most people in the know agree helps make you stand out as a good candidate. Why would you want to NOT do something that takes 5 minutes just to stand on principle? Even if it doesn't make a difference, why wouldn't you want to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job?

    Do some hiring managers/HR people ignore thank-you notes? Sure, I'm sure they do. Do some pay attention to them? Yes. You don't know which type you're dealing with, so I'd suggest increasing your odds and taking the 5 minutes to do it.

    It kind of blows my mind how many people write to me looking for some kind of "gimmick" to get a hiring manager's attention (when there's no such thing), but then aren't willing to send a freaking thank-you note, when it's generally appreciated and considered a nice thing to do.

  21. Anonymous

    Isn't it just common courtesy to thank someone for their time whether they've spent 15 minutes on the phone with you or 4 hours in a face to face interview? Are you desperate when you send a thank you note when someone sends you a gift? What's more valuable then someone's time? I appreciate getting them and I always send them. My .02 on the subject.

  22. Karen F.

    Do thank you letters work? You bet they do. In fact, most of today's hiring managers and recruiters expect you to send a thank you note. Alison wrote about this in an article titled 21 Things Hiring Managers Wish You Knew Do they think it's a desperate act? I don't think so…unless your application reeks of inexperience and the other red flags you know are there when you sent it in. And they will see that as they review your qualifications. For some of the folks who managed to snag the job without one, kudos to you…but for the rest of the world handed out to a recruiter or hiring manager who is waiting for your thank you note in the mail, (as one poster said) it's better to have it than not, as it's good form.

    Karen, The Resume Chick (on Google or Twitter for questions, comments or violent reactions)

  23. Adie Lee

    Great post and debate! I've always sent thank you notes. If you spend time talking with me, it's worth my time to spend five minutes on a nice, hand written note. One company I interviewed with specifically mentioned that out of all the candidates they interviewed, I was the only one who sent a thank you note. How do job seekers miss that this is something they should totally be doing?

  24. Kelly O

    I can't believe this debate is actually going on.

    The recruiter/hiring manager has taken time out of his or her day to talk to you about filling a potential need. If you need a job (or want a job) it seems like simple common courtesy to thank that person for taking the time to meet with you. Arguing the details of whether email or handwritten notes are necessary is one thing, it just seems like an easy assumption that you would want to be as polite as possible to the person making the hiring decision.

    Besides, it has nothing to do with how that person reciprocates for you. You do the right thing because it is simply the right thing to do, not because you expect anything in return. It's not as satisfying as being demanding or pitching a hissy if you don't feel you've been treated right. But it's the right thing to do.

    I'd rather stand out because I sent an unexpected thank you note than because I sent a fake severed hand in a box (or whatever gimmick of the week you want here.)

  25. Anonymous

    Sending your email as you're walking out the door is simply strategy and not sincere, I'm sure hiring managers see that. It's an ongoing topical debate because job seekers are tired of being ignored after the interview. You have either impressed the panel at the interview or didn't, a stupid note is considerate, and good etiquette but please don't tell me it would be a factor to getting the job. What do HR managers do with those " awe wasn't that a nice thing to do" notes? Put them in a keepsake box? Have an email file in their overloaded email folder of thank you notes? Give me a break, these go right into delete or the shredder.

  26. Class factotum

    making a calculated/strategic move to try to edge out the other applicants

    That's the whole point.

  27. Anonymous

    One thing I always tried to do when sending a thank you note was to bring in some aspect of the conversation from the interview. Often there was something we talked about that deserves further attention. I remember talking with one hiring manager about using a specific technology and discussing how they might want to consider developing it in a particular way. In the thank you note I included a link to a white paper I found about how that technology was used in a relevant industry.

  28. Anonymous

    For those on this board who say it's for the employer who took time out of his/her day: while that's true, at the same time, it's a part of their job to fill a position. How are else are they going to do it besides putting the resumes on a dart board, taking their chances that way? That's one thing you can thank them for, but I would emphasize more about choosing me than taking time out – because it's either me or someone else who is taking them away from their usual tasks.

    I guess it's a debate because not everyone does it – either people don't know or people just don't do it.

    Anyway, I agree with the Anonymous above me – mention some points brought up in the interview to show you've been thinking about it or use it as a time to mention something you might've forgotten. Of course say thank you, but think about it as a last second chance to say what you have to say. I don't think that's being desperate.

  29. fposte

    Anon 3:13: Sure, you either impressed somebody in the interview or you didn't. But other people impressed them too. I'm with Shawn–we don't refuse to hire people who didn't send us a thank you note, but sending one can definitely put one candidate ahead in an otherwise even race, and it certainly helps keep a candidate in our memories should another position appear, as it sometimes has.

  30. Anonymous

    If you are sending a thank you letter within minutes of the interview, you are missing the point. They aren't supposed to be an auto-response.

    You need to take the time to reflect on the interview. The letter is a time to reiterate why you are perfect for the job, and highlight anything you might have forgotten to mention or feel you didn't emphasize adequately. If you send a letter that you wrote before the interview, you are missing a golden opportunity–and the last opportunity–to sell yourself.

    I think a speedy thank you letter is worse than none at all. No thank you letter shows that either you have poor manners, or possibly nothing at all, depending on the employer's expectations. A hasty boilerplate note shows that you think so little of the company of the job that you can't be bothered to spend a few minutes to draft a few sentences about them specifically.

  31. Anonymous

    To me it would be like getting a christmas gift from the convenience story. You shouldn't have. No really, you shouldn't have.

  32. Anonymous

    48 hours is to long. As someone who just recently hired several new Account Executives 48 hours response was unacceptable.

  33. Mike

    I recently had some interviews, and what I did was write the notes that evening, and they went out in the next day's mail.

    Also, I keep seeing advice to continue to sell yourself in the thank you note, and this seems incredibly disingenuous to me. I could be way off here, but I figure that the time for that is in the cover letter, resume and interview.

  34. Anonymous

    Mike – aren't you "selling" yourself through the whole process? Just by sending a thank you note, you are still impressing the person who is making the decision. In many instances, if you don't send a thank you note, then you aren't "selling" your interest and might be disqualified. It's not disingenuous at all.

    What do you write in your thank you notes to make you think this way?

  35. Anonymous

    This discussion was pointeed out to me today. It's very interesting! As a former hiring manager, a handwritten thank you note was an extra plus for a candidate, but that lack of any such note was more detrimental to stronger candidates than helpful to poor ones. A note is a common courtesy and another chance to sell yourself, show your interest, and come across as an articulate winner. I agree they should not be stock (pre witten either). They should be timely to the decision process. I sent one myself by email only when the hiring manager was leaving on vacation the next day, and told me he'd be mulling over the candidates while away from the office. I believe a well written, sincere, smart thank you note will never hurt you.

  36. M

    I am rather surprised that this debate is going on. I do think that sending a thank you note 1 minute after an interview is not a good idea, because it's common advice to write a thank you note, so when you send a note so quickly it shows that you are just following advice and doesn't seem very sincere.

    However, I disagree quite a bit that a thank-you note in general is unnecessary. Thinking from a common courtesy point of view, it is just polite to send a thank-you for someone's time. Especially nowadays, where there is so much competition for a job, a thoughtful thank you can differentiate you from the many other candidates. Sometimes the interviewer is not taking notes, so how are they going to remember how you did in the interview? It is up to you to remind them of how well suited you are for the job by addressing specific issues that came up in the interview. I think it is sad that the HR person asked Charles why he sent a thank you note – it shows how rare his polite gesture was. I also think he shouldn't regret it at all – why should he be sorry for a polite gesture? As for appearing to try and get an edge – of course you want to get an edge… you want the job! If the thank you note ends up in the garbage, or the email is trashed – that's not something you have control over. At least you are not eliminated from consideration because you didn't send the note.

  37. Louis

    Maybe it's a cultural thing.

    This blog is the first place where I've heard of post interview thank you note.

    I'm in the IT field in Montreal. Over the past 5 years I have interviewed more than 100 peoples for various position in my team.

    I have NEVER received ANY thank you note after an interview.

    If I were to receive one, I would probably file the candiate as a wierdo or a suckup depending on the tone of the letter… It wouldn't make me not hire a top candidate, but it would definitly be a turn down in case of a close race.

  38. Anonymous

    You claim elsewhere that an interview is a two-way street: the company and candidate are interviewing each other.

    I agree with that.

    However, this being the case, it is no more reasonable for the company to get a thank-you note than the candidate.

    If anything, the candidate has done more that would *merit* thanks than the company. The candidate has, for instance, traveled to the place of convenience of the company. The company did not travel to the candidate.

    I have sometimes been struck by the arrogance of interviewing managers who have forgotten this basic reality.

    They think I am trying to sell them myself. But I am actually rejecting them increasingly over the course of the interview, because I can see the mismatch between their sense of entitlement and the nonexistent logical justification for it.

    Any manager who is suffering from entitlement to such an extent as to expect a thank-you note is not a manager for whom I would ever want to work.

  39. Ask a Manager

    Anonymous @4:53 — I think you're missing a big point here, and that's what convention is. There are a lot of etiquette conventions that don't make strict sense, or that you could argue against. But the fact is that this IS convention (at least in the U.S.; can't speak for other places). It IS widely recommended to candidates. It IS widely considered appropriate and appreciated and something that makes a candidate stand out.

    Most hiring managers appreciate candidates who demonstrate that they understand etiquette and business conventions, whatever anyone's secret opinions of those conventions may be.

  40. MrsPost

    I've found that a lot of my interviews tend to be over the telephone and sometimes with a group of people. I have absolutely no idea how to contact them individually.

    Also, the hiring managers and HR people are geographically diverse as well. I honestly don't have physical addresses for them.

    Even for in-person interviews I'm lax and don't send a physical thank you note. Typically I only have the direct contact information for the HR person so I'll send a follow up e-mail and ask that they extend my thanks and appreciation for being considered.

    As nice as a physical thank you note is my skills deals in going paperless so it would be a bit hypocritical to send a 'dead tree' note when I could do the same via e-mail.

  41. Anonymous

    @AskAManager: I get that point.

    However, we are no longer living in the nineteenth century, and etiquette is a trivial issue compared to real-world business value.

    Consider that any company interviewing candidates has, by definition, a problem it needs to solve: finding someone to perform tasks.

    Failure to solve that problem will take a business toll every day that it goes unsolved.

    A candidate, however, may or may not need a job at all.

    Most of my interviews have involved no need on my part whatever. I was there to explore a possibility — the end.

    Now, if I don't get an offer in this scenario, what happens to me? Not a thing. I had no need to be there in the first place.

    But what if the company continues to pay more attention to absurd etiquette than solving its business problems? It tanks.

  42. Melissa Cooley

    Anonymous said: "48 hours is to long. As someone who just recently hired several new Account Executives 48 hours response was unacceptable."

    I tend to agree — 24 hours would probably be a better turn-around time on the thank-you letter.

    That being said, I once was asked by a job seeker who had an interview the previous week and didn't send a thank you afterward if she should bother sending one at all. I advised her to do so; even if she was out of the running for the current position, it could help with future openings (she was at least showing some courtesy by doing it at all).

    Less than a week later, I received an excited note from the job seeker — she got the job. Yes, her thank-you letter was late, but it paid off!

  43. Peter

    Hello AAM, Anonymous,

    I think it is a cultural thing. I'm in Europe as well, and thank you notes are not "taught" here, I did not really hear about people sending them, and I never get one when I do hiring.

    So maybe it can be summarized as: If you seek job in the US, note that thank you notes are the norm; especially Europeans should be aware of this. In Europe, however, it might not be the case. So American person applying for a job in Europe or with European company might want to think a bit whether the thank you note is appropriate.

    I wonder what expectations are in Asia. ;-)

  44. Peter

    Not related to the thank-you note topic, but I really like the image Anonymous has painted about the candidate increasingly rejecting the company, or the position, during the interview.

    This has happened many times to me. Been hunted by recruiter, sweet talked, opportunities presented, the I've travelled to the company office for interviews after some phone screens, and I've seen myself getting less and less interested in the company from the very moment I entered the company building.

    Disorganized interview schedule, interviewers who did not have my CV in front of them, people who did not know what position I'm being interviewer for. And this were some of the big names in the industry. I would be ashamed if my company did something like that to candidates.

    In situation like this, missing thank-you note wouldn't probably even be noticed.

  45. fposte

    Anon 4:53: Entitled? I guess on the same basis that I'm entitled to value cover letters that have the correct polite address form and to value applicants that demonstrate an understanding of courtesy and professionalism in their interviews. I'm in a service-based field–if they can't do that, they *can't* solve my problems. I think it's not coincidental that in the last hiring round, our two candidates that we immediately identified as our front-runners at the end of interview day were the two that we subsequently got thank-yous from. Obviously it's not a convention everywhere and plenty of people get jobs without it, but it's actually a useful indication of the possession of a skill set that's valued in many positions. Which we judge, because in that situation, we actually *are* entitled to do that.

    And yes, we do notify all rejected applicants and thank them for applying.

  46. Anonymous

    @Fposte: The distinction between a cover letter and a thank-you is very simple.

    A cover letter summarizes the candidate's qualifications for the jobs. That information is directly relevant to any hiring process.

    A thank-you letter, on the other hand, is supposed to express the candidate's thanks to the interviewer — whether or not any thanks are merited or justified.

    If key tasks of the job include kissing ass and ignoring reality — and for many managers, that is certainly the case — I suppose such a thank-you note might be relevant as a reflection of the candidate's skillset.

    Otherwise, the thank-you note exists largely to stroke the ego of the interviewer.

  47. Ask a Manager

    Anonymous, I really don't think that's true — about it serving largely to stroke the interviewer's ego. For me, I consider thank-you notes to serve the function of telling me how interested a candidate it is in the position, and that he/she cares about presenting the best possible face to her candidacy.

  48. fposte

    Anon.: I didn't say the *existence* of a cover letter, I referred to those with the correct polite salutation. And signoff. Those don't explicitly describe fitness for anything. Neither does a handshake or a "Good morning."

    Nonetheless, they're meaningful indications of the applicant's possession of a skill set, just like the thank you note. I'm sure there are fields where that skill set isn't particularly significant. Ours isn't one of them.

  49. Anonymous

    I think it's a matter of taste more than convention. I work in a very small (<10), casual office where the staff are all under 35. When I'm screening resumes, I'm choosing someone with whom I'm going to be working very closely. I'm impressed by a candidate who takes my cues about culture at the workplace they're applying to be a part of (and assume they can and probably will take my behavior as typical of what culture they'd get working here). For instance, most of my job applicants address me as, "Dear Ms. [Last name]." When I email them to set up an interview, I address them, "Dear [First name]." Most candidates mirror this and their reply is "Dear [First name]."

    I haven't gotten a thank-you note yet. But that's OK, because we're a small office of young people who don't care much about convention. If you're applying to a law firm I'm sure the tastes of the hiring manager are different than if you're applying to an independent record store.

  50. Anonymous

    I sent thank you notes for the wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, I sent a thank you to my cat sitter for taking such good care of my pets while on vacation. But this thank you to HR BS leaves me completely speechless. The arrogance of HR Hiring Managers is unbelievable. If you are easily influenced by a templated thank you note, then you are a fool. And there has not yet been a response about what HR people do with all those lovely handwritten, templated, letters/ emails? Soon job seekers will be expected to bring gifts and/or leave a tip as if a job interview ( that the job seeker was invited to attend) was some kind of service. I am done with the BS business of the thank you note!

  51. Ask a Manager

    I had no idea this post would generate so much controversy.

    For the record, no one is saying that a thank-you note would influence you to hire someone who you wouldn't hire otherwise or who wasn't strongly qualified. And no one is saying that the lack of a thank-you note would make you change your mind about hiring someone you otherwise planned to hire. However, when you have two equally strong candidates to choose from and you're torn, if one sends a thoughtful post-interview note and one doesn't, then that's going to be something you think about.

  52. Anonymous

    Never in my 48 years, have I been to an interview after which I sent a thank you… nor would I ever have thought to do so…

    This entire thread, in fact reinforces my inclination never to do so…

  53. Anonymous

    Why has it reinforced your desire not to send one? With hiring managers say it can make the difference in choosing between two great people, why wouldn't you send it?

  54. Anonymous

    Is the statistic true that 80% of all candidates do not send a thank you letter to an interviewer? If so, then 80% of all candidates are pretty clueless.

  55. Anonymous

    What about my time? I thank them at the end of the interview and shake their hand. I thank them for inviting me for a face-to-face interview. Why should I send a note to thank them for their time? I took a day off to go the interview, who is going to thank me for that? They don’t even bother letting me know in the time frame they promised. I know it’s difficult to tell someone they didn’t get the job, but why don’t they follow that common courtesy so I’m not on the phone every week calling them trying to figure out if they had made a decision and if I should stop hoping.

    I don’t know…to me it seems enough to thank them at the time of the interview and be done with it. If I didn’t make enough of an impression, a note will not make a difference. I’ve interviewed for many different jobs and the ones I followed up with a note never offered the position. One job…I got the offer 2 hours after the interview…didn’t even have time to send a note…

  56. Anonymous

    I always send thank you notes around 24-48 hours after an interview, it is my personal rule of thumb and it has worked out for me. However, I had a 2nd interview yesterday late afternoon and before I even got a chance to send a thank you note to all the interviewers, I already got a job offer. I’d still like to send thank you notes to those who took the time to speak with me, but what do I say? Suggestions?

  57. Emz

    This is the response İ had to a thank you email.I think its a no because they have already made the decision and they will call me fir the negative impact?
    You’re very welcome. Thank you for taking the time to come in to the Cerner offices. It was great to meet you. I have forwarded your thanks on to your interviewers.
    I will be in touch later in the week when I will be able to give you some feedback from your interview.
     
    Please let me know if there is an further clarification you need at all.
     

  58. Anonymous

    I have to disagree with the people who say that the candidate is the one who should get the thank you e-mail.

    Yes I understand that the candidate has to go to the employer, sometimes in a different city/state. And if the interviewer is a halfway decent person then they will take that into consideration.

    But the big picture is that, regardless of how you look at it, you are asking them for money. Whether or not you decide that their ethics and hiring process agrees with you should come later. A thank-you note is always appropriate.

  59. Sam

    I just stumbled on this thread looking for advice on whether 26 hours was too slow to send a thank-you, and I find it very interesting. Maybe it is a cultural thing (I’m Canadian), but I’ve always heard that thank-yous (usually via e-mail for me because I’m in a technical sector that devalues paper-based communication) is just a way of continuing a polite relationship with at least some people you’re likely to be working with/for.

    For instance, my interview yesterday was with the person who would be my manager. Taking 5 minutes to e-mail and thank her for giving me a tour of the company and really explaining both the position and her goals for it and the person she wants to hire is just a way of being polite, like saying “thank you” to a friend for coming to a party, or attending an event. After all, if she does hire me, I would like for that relationship to be polite and friendly. Also, a lot of the jobs I’ve interview for and worked in have required a good deal of client interactions, where that kind of polite friendliness is very much worthwhile.

    In the end, I usually just ask myself if I would send a friend an e-mail the day after they spent an approximately equal amount of time and effort with me. If I would, I send a thank-you to the interviewer, emphasizing things I really appreciated from the interview. That generally means that 10 minute phone or online/e-mail questionnaires don’t merit thank-yous, but in person interviews, especially ones of more than 30 minutes or when the interviewer goes above and beyond just asking questions of me, do.

  60. Lomax

    Interesting that this is mostly in reference to the HR people who conduct interviews rather than the various other manager/execs you might interview with directly.

    What if you are not given email contact for your interviewers (i.e. the would-be manager or his/her boss)? To me it seems a little weird to go digging up emails of people unless you were given the green light, meaning business cards were exchanged. Even weirder to go writing them personal letters.

    Basically it sounds as though it’s a convention for HR folk, but situationally appropriate for non-HR decision-makers.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Actually, no, I’m nearly always referring to hiring managers, not HR, unless otherwise stated — because I come from the hiring manager side of things, not HR. The advice here about thank-you notes is about hiring managers.

      1. Lomax

        Okay, what I said applies to Hiring Managers, not HR.

        The point is, general conventions for hiring managers won’t apply to non-hiring manager interviewers. In some cases it could be seen as inappropriate unless you are given the “in” to contact them directly.

          1. Lomax

            What is not typically true?

            It’s been established that it’s not appropriate in all situations, e.g. interviewing outside of the US. It’s also been established that it is an expectation of hiring managers. It’s a logical conclusion that it’s not a given that it should be done with those who are not hiring managers.

            I’ve had interviews with people of whom I was given no info besides a first and last name and title. No email, or mailing address. They were anything from potential peers to managing execs. I could use basic common sense to email or snail mail them, but the point is, it wouldn’t be expected, because it isn’t convention for them. And if that’s the case, I could do more harm than good.

            Ive interviewed candidated, and if someone “figured out” my email or mailed me it would instantly make my hackles go up. i cant be the only one.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s not typically true that general conventions for hiring managers won’t apply to non-hiring manager interviewers, or that it’s likely to be seen as inappropriate unless you are given the “in” to contact them directly. There are occasional exceptions, but that’s true of everything.

              Obviously the advice I give her isn’t true throughout the world, in different cultures. I’m writing for a U.S. audience and giving advice from a U.S. perspective.

              1. Lomax

                I didn’t say “likely”. I said it “could” be seen as inappropriate. If the “rule” is that it’s almost always appropriate to find email addresses or send written thanks even when no such opening is given, in all industries and at all levels, and regardless of the type of interview or who you are dealing with, I guess we have to agree to disagree. I’m not sure how you could know that this is a good idea unilaterally.

                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Of course. Anything could be seen as inappropriate by a recipient who operates well outside typical norms. I suppose I could write that as a caveat here on every single post, but that would be silly.

  61. Amelisa

    I can’t imagine not sending a thank you after an interview, but maybe it’s based on the level/position you are interviewing for. I actually came across this blog because I was unsure if 48 hours was too long, but now I feel good about the timing. My issue is that it is for a company I’ve previously worked for so I’m at a loss as to how to address the letters (emails, really). Dear Ms. XXX, is far too formal, Dear , is a little odd. No salutation is strange too.

    To address another issue that came up, I am sending an individual email to each person I interviewed with. I think 10 minutes to follow up is polite and shows my interest.

  62. Interviewing in Philly

    I am shocked that so many ppl feel that a simple “thank you” is outrageous. Apparently we all did not learn this in school or read the same “how to” books. Here is the reality….it is THEIR world and we want a job from THEM. As much as I value my education, experience and talent, I’m not doing them a favor by showing up. I want them to hire me because I believe in the organization and want the opportunity to continue my career there. But there are other educated, experienced and talented candidates. So….I play the game. Yes, it is a game. I’m not selling out, but I am putting my best foot forward — in fact…both feet!) I send a well-crafted resume and cover letter. I need to stand out from them, so I will do the song and dance. I talk nice in the phone interview. I dress up for the in person interview. I research the company and prepare notes and questions to take with me. I engage in brief small talk to break the ice. I take extra copies of my resume for them in case someone in the interview doesn’t have one. And when it’s over I say “thank you” and I follow up with emails to each person, highlighting something in the conversation where we connected. I want them to see that I am professional and know how to handle myself in business and when I represent them to the public.

    The thank you can be used to add in something you wish you had said in the interview. It is also another example that you understand effective written communication. And yes, I’m going to tell you that I think I’d be a good addition to your company. It’s not arrogant or desperate, but confident.

    This is not that deep. This is the stuff I learned in high school. Act nice and be professional to get the job. And yes, send a thank you note. Hello….email is FREE. Really, get over yourself and send the note.

  63. newbie and confused

    If your interview is scheduled for Friday afternoon, when would you say is the ideal time to send a thank you e-mail? If I wait 5 and 48 hours post-interview, I’d be sending the e-mail either late in the evening, say 7-8 pm, or on the weekend.
    Is this considered okay? Please advise. Thank you!

  64. JCC

    The United States is a nation of leasers and renters, with limited unemployment insurance, and high personal debt.

    This means, that anyone who is unemployed is at an extreme bargaining disadvantage, because the longer they remain unemployed, whether hamburger flipper or well-paid business executive, the more likely it is that their savings will run dry and they will be thrown out on the street, chased from bus stop to bus stop by the police with charges of public vagrancy whenever they try to get more than a few hours of sleep at a time. That is why all the courtesy goes to the employer rather than the potential employee. ;)

    Now, there is an exception to that, and that is when a company is trying to recruit someone away from one of their competitors. Then it’s all flowers and chocolates; in some ways the more indifferent the employee seems to their advances, the harder they will work to woo them, thinking that the employee’s non-restless nature will ensure that they stay once stolen away. This is also classic CYA behavior, since the fact that they are already employed in an equivalent position by a competitor is one of the highest forms of plausible deniability if the hire goes wrong. This form of CYA has actually gotten so bad recently that New York City had to pass a law making it illegal to require that a person be employed already in order to be considered for employment!

    Applicants of course dislike “Thank You” letters because they are often insincere, not reciprocated, and if they work, suggest that the hiring manager’s vanity is more important than a person’s ability to do the job — none of which are ideas that leave a person with feelings of enthusiasm.

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