which is better: a handwritten thank-you note or an emailed note?

A reader writes:

Do you have any thoughts on candidates who send handwritten thank-you notes instead of emails?

I’m interviewing candidates right now and I always expect to receive a thank-you email within 24 hours. One candidate never sent me one, so I had mentally declined her. (She wasn’t a superstar in person, so that contributed to my decline.) Well, fast forward to a month later: I checked my physical work mailbox and it turns out she had sent a very nice card.

I only check my mailbox once every two weeks or so…and I’m sure I’m not the only one. (All I receive are marketing materials there.)

I’d like to see it become customary for candidates who wish to send physical cards to ALSO send emails…am I crazy?

I can’t get behind people sending handwritten notes and emails — that’s overkill. They should do one but not both. But yes, of the two options, the better one is an email — because of what you mentioned about how people don’t always see their physical mail quickly, and because hiring decisions are sometimes made before the mail is delivered, and because, frankly, this is business correspondence, not social correspondence, and it doesn’t need to be handwritten. Some people disagree with with me on that last point and still like receiving handwritten thank-you notes from job candidates — but I think they’re quickly moving into the minority.

You didn’t ask this, but I need to say it: You shouldn’t be rejecting otherwise good job candidates for not sending a thank-you. (You should reject this particular one for not being great in her interview though, and a thank-you note wouldn’t have changed that.) Whether or not a candidate sends a follow-up note after an interview, and the specific content of that note, is one piece of the overall package that a candidate presents. It’s not the piece that should make or break your decision (unless there’s something truly compelling and outstanding about the note that pushes and already great candidate over the finish line, or something problematic).

Related:

should we reject job candidates who don’t send thank-you notes after interviews?
are interview thank-you notes going out of style?
thank-you notes: they’re not about thanking anyone
how much do thank-you notes really matter after a job interview?

{ 172 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Stephanie

    That’s interesting. I rarely know the mailing address for my interviewers (since the mailing address can be different from the physical address). I always email thank-you notes because of that.

    Reply
    1. Coffee, Please

      I also like email because you can send it multiple people simultaneously. When I interviewed at my previous job, I included all four people I interviewed with (who would eventually become my co-workers in our 5 person dept) and cc’d HR. I followed up on some points, linked to a few articles and blogs I had written, and a link to a one-page summary of a project from my resume that they asked a lot of questions about.

      I included a line or two personally commenting on each of the 4 people’s questions, roles, or thanking them for a particularly helpful comment. The whole email was only 2 paragraphs of text and then 4 links. I got the job the following week over 120 other candidates!

      Reply
  2. Elizabeth West

    Handwritten is for thank-you notes for presents, etc. It shows you appreciated the gift (or are good at faking you did).

    Email is faster and more timely so it’s for interview notes. Also, NO ONE can read my handwriting, so I do not want to send an illegible mess to a potential employer.

    Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I bet I could read it. I have an old friend who has horrible handwriting (he is dyslexic and dysgraphic), and in high school sometimes he would sometimes show me something he wrote and ask me what it said! XD

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        It starts out neat and then gets worse and worse. I think it’s because I have poor mastery of fine motor control; my hands get stiff and I can’t control them after a while. It’s been like this my whole life. It took me ages to learn to blow a bubble with gum and to whistle. I found out that this difficulty can be one of the symptoms of my learning disability. No wonder I never could learn to play the piano!

        Reply
      2. KAZ2Y5

        Ha! My late husband would sometimes give me something he had written and ask if I could read it. Being a pharmacist I can usually read any handwriting, but there were a few times that he defeated me.

        Reply
    2. Sara

      The timing is most of the reason I’ve never bothered (and will never bother) with handwritten thank you notes. I’m a teacher, so hiring in my field is (a) often quite quick, at least compared to many other fields, and (b) takes place at a time of year when people aren’t constantly in the office. So there’s a decent chance that anything I send via snail mail won’t arrive before a decision is made, and even if it does arrive, there’s no guarantee that the hiring manager will actually see it before the decision is made.

      Reply
  3. katamia

    I have atrocious handwriting, so I’m sure any handwritten thank-you notes I wrote would wind up counting AGAINST me.

    Also, I agree that you shouldn’t be rejecting people for not sending thank-you notes. They’re not common in all cultures, so you could be missing out on people from certain cultures who don’t realize there’s a different cultural norm at play here, too.

    Reply
      1. Jen RO

        This thank you note thing is so bizarre to me. Around here we would just go ‘wtf’ if we received one by email, doubly so if it was handwritten. It would make a candidate seem sooo out of touch.

        Reply
        1. Sunshine

          It never occurred to me that an emailed thank you note might look out of touch. I’m curious to know what fields/industries would view it that way…?

          Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I want to note here for people that Jen RO is in Romania (that’s what the RO is), so that people don’t inadvertently conclude this view reflects U.S. norms!

          Reply
          1. Mabel

            Jen RO said “…if we received one by email, doubly so if it was handwritten.” so I think she meant by postal mail (because how can you hand write an email?).

            Reply
            1. Urban_Adventurer

              No, she meant it would be weird to receive an emailed thank you, but doubly weird to get one by mail.

              Reply
  4. Jake

    I fear that this OP is going to give credence to the people that worry about minutia like how/when/where to send thank you notes as opposed to things that (should) matter far far more. I can already picture people thinking, “If this HM worries about thank you notes enough to reject an otherwise possibly acceptable candidate, then I better put a ton of effort into all my thank you notes!” In the mean time, they could be spending that time making sure they prepared appropriate questions for the interview or some other, more productive thing.

    Reply
    1. Jeanne

      I would hope the OP is rare. Please don’t make big decisions based on the thank you note unless there is something egregious. Even if you don’t get one, it may not be intentional. Work spam filters and firewalls can be wonky.

      Reply
    2. Melissa

      I admit that was my kneejerk reaction since I’m job-hunting now, but I quickly thought “Hm, maybe s/he’s just an anomaly.”

      Reply
  5. Dan

    AAM’s right about the thank you note being a part of the overall package. My line of work is analytical, and I don’t always give the best answers during an interview. Many times, my thank you notes are along the lines of, “you asked me about X, and after thinking about it some more, I’d like to add Y to the conversation.” I’d never hold that against a candidate — these days, many meetings I attend have the action item of “follow up and understand Z a little bit more” so I don’t expect people to be 100% on at the first meeting.

    That said, during an interview, I’m expecting people to articulate previous work well, and explain it to me like I’m five. If you can do that, you’re allowed to flub a white board exercise and follow it up with an email. If you can’t communicate your previous work well, then the thank you is just a waste of your time. The reasons for being able to explain previous work well are twofold: 1) People lie on their resume, and use buzzwords to hide it. 2) If I’m not an expert in your field, I need to know that you can communicate technical information clearly to audiences who may not understand it.

    Reply
    1. YandO

      Thank you so much for sharing this insight. I have always wondered why do interviewers ask me about my current and previous position in ridiculous detail. Now I get it.

      Reply
    2. Tau

      I hashed out a more-or-less-suitable-for-laypeople explanation of my (ludicrously abstract, technical, and generally completely incomprehensible to anyone not an academic working in *precisely* my area) PhD thesis before starting to job-hunt. Sure enough, in every single interview I got asked “so, can you tell us what your thesis is about?” and I think I impressed people by managing to give an at least borderline comprehensible overview. (Ideally it would have been completely comprehensible, but there’s only so much I can do in five minutes and I think they recognised that!)

      Reply
      1. NJ Anon

        That’s great. In accounting school we were taught to know our audience and how to relate to them. When I start talking finance and accounting in technical terms, most people have no idea what I am talking about.

        Reply
        1. Dan

          Knowing your audience can be a though thing to do in and of itself. My company does work for the federal government, and it’s one thing to write for someone in the field who has to evaluate whether or not my work makes any sense, and it’s another to write for the program managers who may not have the same in depth field knowledge.

          I know that when I read “dumbed down” stuff, it can actually be harder to read if the industry jargon is stripped out. The worst is newspaper. I’ve worked in my industry for a long time, and I usually can’t translate “dumbed down” back into the technical jargon it came from.

          Reply
    3. the gold digger

      I need to know that you can communicate technical information clearly to audiences who may not understand it.

      That is my current job! I am the marketing person in the R&D group on an engineering company. Scary smart people working around me who are used to other super smart and highly technical people. I sit with them and say, “Pretend you are explaining this to your grandmother.”

      Actually, I don’t even want to know how something works. I want do know why I would ever want to buy it.

      The engineers want to say, “This knife! The blade is 4.3″ long! And the sharp edge has an angle of 22 degrees! IT IS MADE OF KRYPTONITE!”

      What a customer wants to hear is, “Oh! You have a steak? Would you like to pick it up with your hands and chew a bite off? Or would you like a tool that will help you reduce that six ounces of prime beef into bite-sized pieces that can be easily transported to your mouth? Because we have the solution to your problem of big steak!”

      Reply
      1. Snork Maiden

        Ha, I wish I had this problem. I’d also like the problem of “too much wine” and “oversize cake”.

        Reply
      2. Dan

        Yeah, even as an engineer, when I’m doing product evaluations, I have one question, and one question only: Will this thing solve the problem that I have? I never define my requirements in terms of some marketer’s spec sheet. I have a list of things I know needs to be done, and I want you to tell me how you can address them. I do not want your marketing materials that make me guess about what the thing can (and more importantly, cannot) do.

        Too often, you’re given the “trees” level view, when what you really want is to see the whole “forest.”

        Reply
      3. Pennalynn Lott

        Yep, when I was in sales we explained it like this: The fact that a coffee mug has a handle is a Feature. But the fact that you can pick up a scalding hot cup of coffee without burning your hand is a Benefit.

        Don’t tell me it has a handle. Tell my why I need a handle. (Because, seriously, at least in software this stuff is not obvious to everyone).

        Reply
  6. YandO

    You know what makes me really sad?

    And HR manager may be rejecting good/excellent/superstar candidates based on this “follow up” nonsense without the actual approval of the team that is looking for a candidate.

    So if they need a new engineer and this candidate would have been a perfect fit, but he never gets to meet the head of engineering (who could not care less about thank you notes), because HR decided on this beyond stupid rule.

    Argh. You know what hiring is all about? Reading minds and crystal balls.

    Reply
    1. Maude

      Where in the original post did it say this is an HR requirement and that the candidate was being rejected by HR? This is a hiring manager that places too much value on a thank you note.

      Reply
    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I assumed the OP was the hiring manager, not HR, but I suppose I don’t actually know.

      But I don’t agree that hiring is about reading minds and crystal balls, not at all! We talk here a lot about how to come across well in the hiring process, because there’s a pretty straightforward way to do it. That doesn’t mean you won’t encounter hiring managers with unusual screening methods, but they’re not the majority.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Since we often compare job searching with dating: it isn’t necessarily sufficient that a candidate is a good person and good at what they do, they also have to be a good fit. For both their sakes, because if either the employee or the employer are unhappy, it’s not a tenable situation for either of them.

        Reply
      2. YandO

        I hope so, but then we just had the whole conversation about addressing employers by their first name or Mr/Mrs.

        It would never even cross my mind to address them by anything but first name, but apparently I could have been easily rejected if I did/did not. I’d like to think there were other reasons too, but I am also starting to realize that you never freaking know.

        “I assumed the OP was the hiring manager, not HR, but I suppose I don’t actually know.”

        Oh, sorry, you know what happened? I read the relevant article and confused the two. My statement does not make sense in the context of this letter.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Wait, I don’t think anyone said they would reject a candidate over addressing them by their first name. I’m the one who said continuing to address me as Ms. Green after I’d started using their first name would be a fit flag, but I think that’s it.

          Reply
          1. YandO

            I know you would not. You are a reasonable human being and HM

            Unfortunately, that’s not true for some others. Which, actually, is fine. I don’t want to work with them anyways.

            Reply
        2. HR Geek

          YandO

          “It would never even cross my mind to address them by anything but first name, but apparently I could have been easily rejected if I did/did not. ”

          I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this. Would you want to work for a manager that rejected someone over something so trivial anyway?

          Reply
          1. YandO

            Nope :)

            No sleep has been lost. I am just new to the whole job search thing and I am surprised every day by the things I never thought mattered.

            Reply
    3. Colette

      There are plenty of engineering managers (particularly ones leading the organization) who care about people skills as well as technical skills. Not everyone does, but I wouldn’t recommend assuming that great technical skills mean you don’t have to care about niceties.

      Reply
    4. katamia

      Yeah. Thank-you notes were just for presents growing up, and it never would have occurred to me on my own that people wrote them after interviews because interviews were a business thing (which is still my own personal opinion, but I accept that I’m out of step with this part of American culture). I was a crappy interviewee then (still my weakest job hunting skill tbh, but I’ve improved a lot) so I doubt I was ever rejected solely for the lack of a thank-you note, but it’s definitely frustrating.

      Reply
      1. YandO

        I come from a different country where thank you notes are just not a thing. At all. Ever. You thank people when you see them/receive the gift. That’s all.

        Thanking HM’s for their time seemed weird to me cause they got paid for the time, I did not. However, I want to find a job and if requires sending a thank you not, I will send thank you notes.

        Reply
        1. Marcela

          My husband and I come from a country where thank you notes do not exist. At all. Not even for gifts. Now we know they exist and are important for many people, so we send them when it’s appropriate. But we hate them with passion, not because they exist, but because scarcely you see somebody being aware that many people can ignore they are part of the social rules in the US and that the lack of them doesn’t mean we are not interested in the job or that we were breed by wolves. Actually I discovered them reading Dear Abby, while my husband spent at least year and a half looking for academic positions without sending thank you notes. Just thinking that perhaps he was in disadvantage because we didn’t know, even when all his documentation was screaming foreigner, makes me see red.

          Reply
        2. KerryJunior

          I think part of why it seems weird to you is that a proper note shouldn’t really be about thanking the hiring manager for doing their job. It’s more about following up on your conversation (like providing more details about something that was discussed, mentioning an article that might be of interest, etc) and reiterating your interest in the position after you’ve had a few hours to digest everything you’ve learned about it. Alison’s suggested before that they’d be better called ‘follow-up notes’, not ‘thank you notes’

          Reply
          1. I live to serve

            This. I wrote an article about 4 years ago on how not to tank an interview. I said that hand written thank you notes were required. That it was an opportunity to follow up on a question or give more detailed reasoning or demonstrate that you were listening . I would revise that to say e-mail is fine but put in a little more effort than….thank you for the interview.

            Reply
            1. BalticFog

              I interview quite a bit in my current role and I generally find thank you notes a nuisance. The feeling is mutual among my colleagues.
              I feel like it’s an overkill and if you didn’t manage to get your point across during the interview, then the thank you note will not fix that. We also tend to interview a lot of people and unfortunately, unless the candidate stands out, i may not remember his/her name a week later.
              True story: few years back, there was what we thought a good candidate for the position. 3 days after the interview he emailed identical thank you notes to the 3 people he’d interviewed with. The email was sent at 3 am and was so long and overboard that we immediately thought the guy was weird and would be a bad fit. Had he not written it and sent at 3 am, he’d have most likely gotten the position or at least moved along in the process.

              Reply
          2. Marcela

            Hmm. That doesn’t still make any sense to me. Why am I not believed the first time I said that I was interested in the position, in my cover letter? Or just believed by default, because applying shows interest to me? I accept those are the rules, but they don’t make any sense.

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              Well, for one thing, because an interview is not just a chance for the hiring manager to see if you’ll be a good fit, but also for you to see if the company is a good fit for you. So you may well decide after an interview that you aren’t interested anymore. Or you might have come across in your interview as blasé about the job. I know I can seem apathetic about things I’m quite happy about. This is just a way to remind the hiring manager who you are, follow up on something that came up in the interview that you don’t think you answered well, and to say that yes, you did not change your mind after the interview.

              Reply
              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yes. You actually can’t know whether or not you’re seriously interested until after the interview. Or at least you shouldn’t think you can.

                Reply
        3. Kiwi

          Post-interview thank-you notes are “not done” to such an extent in NZ that it may drop you down a few notches just for being so out of step with accepted business norms.

          Reply
  7. Notes across the pond

    (Alison, if this is too off topic let me know and I’ll ask it in the open thread)

    Any Irish hiring managers (or probably UK too as I assume norms are pretty similar), are thank you emails/notes a thing that people do over here? I’m job hunting at the moment and mentioned them to a few people and they generally thought that they were a bit weird and kind of pushy. That said, I don’t know any hiring managers, but I do know lots of people who’ve recently gotten jobs.

    Reply
      1. Notes across the pond

        Oh brilliant, thanks, must have missed that despite my obsessive AAM reading!

        Lucky I didn’t send one so!

        Reply
        1. Myrin

          I’m in Germany and have found that our rules are mostly pretty much the same as the ones in the UK and thank you notes aren’t a thing here, either (in fact, I only learned this was a thing just now when I browsed one of the linked threads).

          Reply
          1. Tau

            I’m in Germany and have found that our rules are mostly pretty much the same as the ones in the UK

            Really? I’ve been job-hunting in the UK and my mother is a hiring manager in a very closely-related area in Germany (meaning: the usual caveats about parental advice don’t apply). We have had multiple arguments about things like whether or not to put your birthdate on your CV, whether it needs a photograph, whether to add high school info and the like. Generally, the careers service at my university sided with me.

            Although in retrospect I should’ve probably gone with her on high school – I got soooo many follow-up e-mails asking me for the details. If I never have to try to explain the workings of an Abitur to British people again it will be too soon.

            Reply
            1. Myrin

              Ah, sorry for the confusion! I didn’t mean content-wise, I meant with regards to etiquette! (Which seems to be true as I see commenters from the UK saying they’ve never done the thank you thing either.)

              Reply
        2. Ailsa

          I’m a Brit – I generally send a follow up email saying like, it was great to meet you and I look forward to talking again soon. But nothing more elaborate and no one has ever suggested to me that anything more elaborate than that is called for. I would never think to send a handwritten card – it’s an interview, not a wedding.
          But hearing everybody’s different norms is one of the most fun things about this blog!

          Reply
    1. Carrie in Scotland

      I don’t do notes either – but after I got some interview feedback recently, I sent them a short email thanking them and wishing them and their new member of staff all the best. Which I got from an AAM post, somewhere in the archives.

      Reply
    2. Peony

      I’m from the UK and hire people- I’d find a thank you note at best weird and at worst kind of creepy. It would set off boundary pushing alarms.

      Reply
  8. Mockingjay

    Slightly off topic – my daughter had an interview yesterday for a permanent 40 hour/week job! (She’s been looking since she graduated from college.) She described the position – good fit both sides, benefits, and so on.

    Later, I spazzed into Mom mode and called her, instructing her to send a thank you note, because .
    “Mom, I got this. I already emailed the note. I do that for all my interviews.”

    I trained her well!

    Reply
  9. Mockingjay

    Wow – post got messed up.

    because (insert Alison’s various posts on thank you notes here).

    Reply
  10. penelope pitstop

    Fully agree with Alison’s answer on all fronts. To build a bit: OP, don’t let your personal preferences get in the way of your professional judgment. As a hirer, a job seeker who writes multiple version of thank yous in multiple forms wouldn’t come across as entirely positive. I’d wonder about it and think it a little eccentric. It has a whiff of, IDK exactly, inefficiency, over-eagerness…something that’s a trace off — not enough off to be problematic, but it might cause me to rethink their interview responses to see if there’s evidence of off-ness that I hadn’t considered in the moment.

    Knowing when to stop talking is an important sign of maturity. Totally different behavior, but for me, this sort of falls in that camp. It’s just a little too much.

    And frankly, as a job seeker – I realize I wouldn’t be privy to your thinking on this issue exactly, but if I could unearth preferences masked as expectations during the interview, I would wonder if yours was an organization focused on appearances over substance, too caught up making mountains of molehills.

    IMO, this is an instance of your focus on interviewer communication communicating way more about you than about them.

    Reply
    1. OP

      Are you saying if one candidate both emailed you and then sent a card/note, you’d think that was overkill?

      Interesting. I find it to be the mark of someone going the extra step!

      Now, if they emailed, and sent a card, and then a letter, and then sent flowers, and then texted me…yeah. That would be a problem.

      Reply
      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I would also see both as overkill. Personally, I really don’t want to deal with paper mail at all, and I don’t need extra emails that don’t give me any useful information, although I certainly wouldn’t hold either individually against a candidate. But when someone upthread mentioned that thank-you letters are unheard of in the UK, my immediate thought was “Man, I wish I lived there!”

        Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Absolutely it’s overkill. I love Penelope’s way of describing why: “It has a whiff of, IDK exactly, inefficiency, over-eagerness…something that’s a trace off — not enough off to be problematic, but it might cause me to rethink their interview responses to see if there’s evidence of off-ness that I hadn’t considered in the moment. Knowing when to stop talking is an important sign of maturity. Totally different behavior, but for me, this sort of falls in that camp. It’s just a little too much.”

        That’s exactly how it makes me feel too.

        Reply
      3. katamia

        Out of curiosity, OP, has anyone ever sent both a handwritten and an emailed thank-you? And if so, did they say pretty much the same thing or different things?

        Reply
        1. OP

          Hmm. I honestly can’t remember the last time I received a physical thank-you for an interview (apart from this instance), so I’m not sure. I don’t think so, though.

          Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’ve gotten both from the same candidate. It’s weird either way — if you say the same thing, I wonder why you’re saying it twice, and if you say different things, I’m wondering why you’re writing me two separate notes.

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      4. BRR

        It would come off as overkill and redundant. To me it falls in the same category of over-eagerness as contacting the company to check the status of your application often. Comparing job hunting to dating again. Imagine having a date. They text you that they had a great time. Then they send you an email. Then a facebook message. Even if they add, just wanted to make sure you got the it.

        Reply
      5. Hot Stuff

        “Going the extra step” is only a good thing if the step is in the right direction. This isn’t.

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      6. LBK

        Here’s how I’d view it – I expect people to conduct themselves throughout an interview process more or less how they’d conduct themselves as my employee. To me, going above and beyond or taking the extra step in the context of work doesn’t mean politeness/preparation/prevention overkill, it means being thoughtful about what’s being asked of you and reasonably anticipating next steps.

        If, for example, you’re sending out a report with statistics on it that you know will be questioned, sending the report with a brief explanation of where the numbers were derived from is a good, thoughtful extra step. It’s work you’ll probably have to do anyway and it saves you and the receiver time by preemptively cutting out the back and forth. Sending a thank you note via email and mail is just duplicating work without adding value – I don’t get anything from one version that I didn’t get from the other, and there’s no situation wherein I might come back and question you about getting the other version.

        Just because you spend time on something doesn’t inherently mean it’s adding value.

        Reply
      7. Zillah

        But is that really an extra step that’s meaningful? If you feel that it is… Why? What does it indicate about a candidate that just an email wouldn’t?

        Reply
  11. ExJourno

    I admit, I often don’t send a thank you email after an interview. I leave, get caught up in stuff at my current job or at home or whatever, and just forget. As a job seeker, I do try to remember thank you notes because it’s A Thing You Should Do. But if I were a hiring manager, I would see no value to a thank you note without a relevant question or additional information.

    I wouldn’t ever say this to a hiring manager or HR person, but it’s seems silly to thank them for meeting with me when hiring is part of their job. They’re the ones who called me and asked me to come in. I had to take a vacation day or drive out to their office or whatever the case may be while they got paid to be there.

    Reply
    1. katamia

      That’s exactly why I’m not a fan. I’d write a thank-you note for someone going above and beyond, but meeting with a candidate for a job interview is just not what I’d consider going above and beyond.

      Reply
        1. katamia

          That does make more sense. I just often find that I don’t really have anything else to say when an interview goes well. For the jobs I’ve gotten, I’ve always left those interviews feeling like I explained my experience and my philosophy (these were mostly education jobs, so my teaching/tutoring philosophy) well, they understood what I was trying to say, and we were pretty much on the same wavelength. And for the disaster interviews, the best written thank-you/followup note in the world couldn’t salvage them.

          Reply
        2. ExJourno

          I’ve used this advice in the past for jobs I was really excited about and had some success. For others, I just really didn’t have anything to add to the conversation. I guess that reveals more about my candidacy than I realized.

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        3. CreationEdge

          I’ve got this page in my favorites now (even though I’ve read it before).

          The idea of a “thank-you” note seems archaic to me, and more like playing a game than job searching. I have a hard time with them being called that, and the emphasis on a thank-you. (Just my opinion, which probably won’t change. I’m also the kind of person that finds thank-you notes for gifts burdensome. I’ll thank you in person or on the phone. If that’s not good enough, I unfortunately can’t muster up any care.)

          But, this quote from the article:

          “The job search advice industry has done candidates a disservice by calling these “thank-you notes.” It’s better to think of them as follow-up notes.”

          Is perfect. It really did help me see them in a new light. By thinking of them this way, I can make them mesh with my own personality (obstinate and not traditional), and see how this cultural phenomenon is an opportunity for *both* parties.

          Reply
      1. Cristina

        As a hiring manager, yes interviewing and hiring is part of my job, but it’s not a part I particularly enjoy. Not to mention even if it was, it’s always nice to hear a “thank you” from someone you’re working with. On the flip side, I always thank candidates for their time on the phone, and especially if they come in. I realize that job searching isn’t fun for them either. And I do make sure HR sends a note to everyone who has applied for closure. I wouldn’t discount someone for not sending a note, but the courtesy is always appreciated.

        Reply
    2. KimmieSue

      I’m a high-volume technical recruiter. Nearly all of my candidates are engineers that are currently working. If they are actively searching for a new job, they typically have multiple opportunities and offers. If they are taking time to interview with our company? Hey, I’m thrilled. I don’t expect to receive a thank you email (or personal note). I’m thanking THEM.

      My opinion is that the thank you note or email has zero influence on my recommendation to move forward or not. That said, email would be more preferred than snail mail.

      I’m curious about OP’s industry? Perhaps this is the norm in a non-technical environment?

      Reply
  12. OP

    OP here. To clarify — this candidate was nowhere near the top of my list (and I’m the hiring manager, not an HR rep). So it’s not like the lack of an email led to a canceled offer here.

    Reply
  13. Florida

    I work in fundraising and I WOULD reject a candidate for not sending a thank you. I only say that because thanking people is sooooo important in my field so I consider it a demonstration of work skills.

    However, if I were hiring an accountant or HR manager or operations person, I wouldn’t hold it against someone for not sending a thank you.

    Ha Ings said all that, I don’t care if it’s email, snail mail, handwritten, or whatever.

    Reply
    1. Dovahkiin

      Same for me, since I’m usually hiring PR/Marketing people with just a few years experience or fresh out of school. It’s a small gesture that shows me you can follow-up and handle biz correspondence, that if you want something like a press hit or a new gig, you’re gonna pursue the heck out of it.

      I haven’t not hired anyone because of a lack of thank-you email (I’ve never received a physical letter – I work in tech so that would be perceived as old-fashioned), but a lack of follow-up usually follows other red flags that indicate they might not be ready for the job.

      Reply
  14. Macedon

    I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen a point in follow-up communication that doesn’t really add anything to the process. I don’t begrudge anyone who sends me a thank-you note, of course, but I can’t say that I remember them for it, or that it grants them any particular advantage in the process, however slight. If anything, I hope to see the demise of the thank-you note – if you’re grateful for the time I invested in interviewing you, don’t waste another five seconds of it with shallow formalities.

    Reply
    1. J.B.

      Yes! Why would a thank you note matter to the interviewer? You didn’t do the person a favor, you were trying to fill a job because you need someone to do work. The only thank you notes I have ever remarked on are those that add more information. Otherwise nice to see, but we move on based on the qualifications.

      Reply
      1. Macedon

        More to the point, I, the interviewer, don’t send you a thank-you note – and you’re the one who’s incurred the cost of coming to my office ( and possibly of taking a day off your other job ). Besides, thanks are exchanged both ways plenty of times over the course of the interview: when we meet, I say, “Hi, J.B, I’m Macedon. Thanks for coming.” You say, “Thanks for having me.” We go through the interview, at the end of which, I say, “Well, we expect to have a decision by (X). It was great meeting, thank you for coming in.” You say, “Thank you so much for the opportunity, I look forward to hearing from you then.” This on top of the thanks you’ve probably already given me or my HR rep when we first scheduled the interview.

        Thank-you notes just read to me of interviewees who feel forced to kowtow in order to stay in the race. I don’t like it, but I don’t take off points for it, because I realise this is how the game is played in a number of industries and with several employers.

        Reply
        1. AnonAnalyst

          This is my feeling, too. As a candidate, I often struggle to write these in a way that builds on the conversation. If I feel like I’ve really nailed the interview and am really excited about working there, I have a hard time thinking of other things to say in the note that add value. If I feel like I’ve totally bombed the interview, I’m not going to address concerns or issues point by point in a note. If it’s somewhere in between, there may be a follow-up question or thought I have and I can add that in, but I feel like even in those situations, that only happens about half of the time.

          As an interviewer, I feel like most of the people I’ve interviewed have the same challenges writing thank you notes that I do, because I usually get them and they are the same type of bland “thanks for speaking with me, I’m excited about the opportunity” notes I end up writing in the situations above. I don’t hold sending or not sending a note against anyone – like you, I recognize that’s how the game is played – but it’s certainly not factoring into my decisions about whether or not to move a candidate forward in the process.

          Reply
      2. brownblack

        There are many jobs where social niceties like this actually matter a lot (sales, fundraising, anything involving creating or sustaining relationships with external constituents). If you are applying for a job as a programmer I guess I can understand that the note wouldn’t be “necessary” per se.

        Reply
    2. Snowglobe

      I agree. As a hiring manager, I have never really paid any attention to whether or not a candidate sent a thank you note. I could not care less. I suppose if a candidate sent a really strong follow up note that added to the conversation, that might be something to consider, but in reality I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen that.

      Reply
      1. Hiring Mgr

        As others have said, I think they’re better understood as follow-up notes rather than thank you notes…As an interviewer, I do like them, but only as a small part of the overall picture of the candidate.

        As to whether email or written…Email seems to make more sense, just for ease and expediency, but I could see a candidate wanting to stand out in some small way by sending a written note…Though unlike most responders if you’re going to send a written note, I would still advise sending an email in case time is of the essence.

        Personally I wouldn’t see it as overkill or desperate–but then again I don’t mind if candidates follow up more than once after an interview which apparently many people view as outright disaster

        Reply
    3. Children's entertainer here

      Agreed that if you are sending follow-up communication that doesn’t add anything to the process, you are wasting your time. Also, you said you don’t remember anyone for doing it. If that’s the case, the thank you notes you are getting suck.

      Any follow-up needs to add value. Any thank you note should be memorable. (That’s true of everything, not just job search correspondence.) I’d say the problem is not that people are sending thank you letters, it’s that they are sending, boilerplate, crappy thank you letters. Most thank you recipients can tell if they received an obligatory thank you note, or a genuine thank you note (again true of everything, not just job searching.)

      Reply
  15. Allison

    I agree 100%! I can’t argue with people who appreciate hand-written notes; with so much of our mail being bills, fundraising spam, and coupons, it’s nice to sometimes get something personal and a little old fashioned. Reminds us of the good ol’ days, right? But people who expect it of candidates, and make hiring decisions based on it, are unnecessarily old fashioned, and I can’t get behind people who refuse to get with the times.

    It’s 2015, it’s time to stop hating on e-mail as some rude, overly casual way to communicate with people in the business world, and start appreciating its efficiency.

    Reply
  16. Stranger than fiction

    Last time I was job seeking, many times I never received am email or business card from the hiring manger, in which case I simply replied to the last email I had from HR or recruiter thanking them and asking them to thank any others I interviewed with. But after reading some of the comments here today and in past threads I’m now wondering if those thank yous ever got to the hiring managers. I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt but I hear so many awful stories about HR folks (and have known a few of them) please tell me I’m wrong

    Reply
  17. Anonymous Educator

    I used to work in educational recruitment, and I had a bunch of hiring managers from the South (of the U.S.) tell me a handwritten thank-you note is a must. Then I had a bunch of hiring managers from California tell me an email thank-you note is the way to go and that handwritten thank-you notes weren’t convenient (you can’t reply to them as easily; it’s slower). Don’t know if that regional difference shows up in any other industries…

    Reply
    1. Sara

      Hmm. I’m also in education (I live in the Northeast), and one of my mentors insisted that handwritten thank you notes are an absolute must. Of course, she also suggested doing things like dropping off unsolicited cover letters/resumes in person to “make a good impression” with prospective employers, so I take everything that she says with a grain of salt.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous Educator

        Yeah, that latter piece of advice I would definitely not do, but I have spoken to at least one hiring manager at a New England school who is really impressed by handwritten thank-yous (but mainly because “no one” writes them any more).

        Reply
  18. OP

    Thanks for all your comments, folks. I should add one thing:

    I mentioned in my letter that this candidate wasn’t at the top of my list after meeting with him anyway. But I do know many people are better written communicators than verbal, and some people come across better on paper than in person. I suppose I was hoping this candidate would wow me with a great thank-you email the next day, since he didn’t wow me in person. (He had a strong resume and came recommended, so I suppose I had high expectations!) And then, because I never got an email, he fell to the way bottom of my list. And when his card came, I’d already moved on to the next step with other candidates.

    Plus, the other thing about a handwritten thank-you is that there’s no way to respond! I could easily reply to a thank-you email — especially if the thank-you contained new, relevant information about their fit for the role — but with a physical thank-you, there’s no real way to do that.

    *shrugs*

    Reply
    1. Looby

      So, she could have been 4th on your list, but because you didn’t get a thank you note in the form you prefer, you bumped her down to #10 and she didn’t make the cut to the next round?

      Out of curiosity, how long had the card been sitting in your mail box? Maybe you should consider getting rid of the box if you aren’t going to actually check it on a regular basis.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        That actually sounds like the exact opposite of what happened – she’s saying the candidate was #10 based on his interview but because he came highly recommended and had a good resume, she was hoping he’d send a really great thank you note that would bump him up to #4 (ie more in line with how he appeared on paper). With no thank you note and nothing particularly impressive about the interview, that left him at the bottom of the pile.

        Reply
    2. BRR

      A lot of articles tell you to do a hand written thank you note as it shows you’re putting effort in (ignoring the possible negatives of it).

      But overall a thank you note should not move a candidates from rejection to offer or vice versa.

      Reply
      1. AnonAnalyst

        I got one of my previous jobs through a staffing agency, and after interviewing with several people at my eventual employer, they suggested I send some handwritten cards. The recruiter said they had really liked me but the handwritten note might give me the edge and push them to make the decision to hire me (citing some of the same reasoning as those articles).

        I got this call shortly before the post office closed that day, but since they insisted that time was of the essence and they had to go out that day to get to the company the following day, I ended up having to run to the store, find some business appropriate blank note cards, write several of these notes, and then race to the post office to send them off.

        They called me the following day and offered me the job. I found out after I started working there that the cards had arrived after they had made the offer. In this case, email would definitely have been better (although it seems it didn’t matter in the end since they made the offer with no thank you note in sight).

        Reply
        1. BRR

          I’ve been a part of similar situations. We discussed the candidates before the thank you note arrived.

          Reply
  19. brownblack

    I am not really down with the concept of “forget about snail mail, nobody uses it anymore.” This is simply not true. I check my physical mailbox at work every day, and I receive plenty of mail. I can’t imagine going a week or two without even looking at it, as some commenters here claim to do.

    Reply
    1. LBK

      How much of that is valuable, though? I throw out everything I get in the mail except wedding invitations and holiday cards from my mom. Everything else is junk.

      Reply
    2. bridget

      This is *really* dependent on your office culture, and whether other people in your company or industry use regular mail. If you didn’t receive plenty of mail, and checking it every day was totally worthless 90% of the time, I’m sure you’d stop checking it every day.

      Nobody at my workplace has a physical mailbox. If a work-related paper comes via mail, a secretary scans it, files the original, and emails me an electronic copy. If it’s something else (like a magazine), she drops it off at my desk. This maybe happens twice a month.

      Reply
    3. ExJourno

      I’ve never had a mailbox at work before. Or, if I did, no one ever told me about it. In the unusual event that something was mailed to me at work, someone would bring it by my desk.

      Reply
    4. Dan

      Ok, I think we all know that “nobody” is an exaggeration, because few absolutes are ever true. All I get in my work mailbox is junk. I only check it when the admin gets on our butts. In a year and a half at this job, there’s never been anything important in there. In five years at my last job, same deal.

      Reply
    5. Tinker

      The last time I received something in the mail at work, it was a Nerf gun that was ordered by me. I can’t remember the time before that. I don’t think I’ve had a physical mailbox at work since 2007 or so, and that was mostly for internal stuff.

      People’s circumstances are going to vary a lot on this point.

      Reply
    6. AcademiaNut

      I check my mailbox at work about once every two weeks. I get very little professional snail mail, and 90% of it is spam. The rest is the occasional pre-print, and professional Christmas/New Year’s cards.

      I work in a very international field, so most of my correspondence is via email – regular mail can easily take a week for letters. I literally fax documents more often than I snail mail them (for some reason, faxes are still used for copyright release forms and a few things like that).

      Reply
    7. Meg Murry

      At a job where I had to pay bills based off physical snail mail, and interoffice mail was delivered 2x a day – I checked my mailbox at least daily.

      At a job where I did not expect to receive anything of value in the mail (and neither did anyone in my group) the mail sorting process was really inefficient and our mailboxes were really inconveniently located, so I might only check 1-3 times per week, and it could take a couple of days after mail had arrived at our office to even make it to my mailbox.

      Not to mention how slow snail mail is now that it has gone to regional sorting centers. To prove a point when a family member asked why I was hand delivering invitations to an event instead of mailing, I put a stamped letter addressed to a family member who only lives a mile away in the mailbox at my house one morning, and it took a full week to get delivered back to her house. And I’m pretty sure she’s on the same postal route as me and we have the same mailman!

      The last time I sent snail-mail thank you cards, hand wrote and addressed them in the parking lot immediately after my interview, and then drove them to the post office then and there. In that case, it was also because I was writing thank you notes to my mentors/references who had coached me for the interview and I knew a handwritten note would be meaningful to them. I’m pretty sure I got the job offer before they ever got the notes though.

      Reply
    8. Cath in Canada

      We have a group mail slot, for both internal and external mail, that covers our entire team. People will check it any time they’re down on the ground floor and bring any mail back to the recipients. Almost every single piece is internal, and almost every single piece of the external mail we do get is junk from vendors. Anything really important gets sent by courier and delivered separately.

      Reply
  20. Anonathon

    Particularly now, handwritten/mailed notes just seem … impractical? While interviewing for my current job, I sent a thank-you email that also was a follow-up to a conversation that we’d had during the interview. The HM and I had a little more back-and-forth via email the next day, he asked me for a 2nd interview (and gave me some background about who I’d be meeting), etc. If I’d mailed a note, that conversation would have been a lot trickier. Email lets you reach out right away and engage directly (if the HM would like). Why not use it when possible?

    Reply
  21. Mina Taylor

    A few weeks ago in the Friday open thread I mentioned situation where the candidate had sent thank you email to everyone except for me, the hiring manager. Based on the feedback and my own assessment, I filed it away as “odd but not worth dwelling on.” I’m really glad I did that because when I finally checked my physical mailbox, I found that she had sent me a physical note. That’s why I didn’t get an email!

    Reply
  22. Kat M

    On the docking people for no note, I get it in some situations. If I’m hiring someone to w00 big-ticket donors at my nonprofit and they don’t send a prompt thank-you note, it makes me wonder if this says something about how they’d interact with folks on behalf of my organization. But if we’re talking about someone in a technical position or another role where grasp of social niceties isn’t terribly important outside of the ability to function in a team, not so much.

    Reply
  23. NJ Anon

    I frankly don’t care if I get a thank you or not. It’s nice in either form but it does not sway my hiring decision. More often than not, in my experience, they come in email form.

    Reply
  24. CAF

    I was told many times that handwritten notes were encouraged when interviewing at nonprofits. And the person who eventually hired me definitely mentioned the one I sent her afterwards in a very positive way. So this may be the norm (or at least less passe) for this industry, at least in NYC.

    Reply
    1. CAF

      I should add that some people I networked with framed it as a NECESSITY, not just a nice idea to set myself apart from the pack.

      Reply
  25. Lurker

    I think it depends on the type of position for which one is applying. For example, someone who is applying for a development/fundraising job should know the importance of that extra attention to detail that a handwritten note can provide. (And how that translates to dealing with donors, foundations, etc.) I know that when we interview for those types of positions we think handwritten notes are better than emails; however we don’t discredit someone who sends an email. For someone interview for finance, marketing, etc. email vs. handwritten doesn’t really matter. We will raise a proverbial eyebrow, however, if neither email nor handwritten note is received.

    Reply
  26. Language Lover

    Handwritten thank you notes, personalized to each individual who was in the interview, helped me get a job in the past. My skills made me a top candidate but that extra touch helped sway the people in the interview who could be swayed by something like that–maybe not overtly but subsconciously. In my case, it wasn’t the hiring manager but rather future co-workers in the interview whose opinions mattered even if the decision wasn’t ultimately up to them. Handwritten cards aren’t my usual M.O. but I had the cards, knew they’d get them and had a week before I knew they’d make their decision.

    The irony is that the cards gave the impression that I’m a more touchy/feely person than I actual am so I received quite a bit of playful teasing.

    As a hiring manager, I don’t care how the thank you notes are delivered but I do like to have them. I like to see everyone in the interview acknowledged because co-workers are important too. I like to see something that shows some reflection of the interview–something you liked, something that you forgot to say.

    I would never reject the best candidate for not having sent a thank you note but I rarely have a candidate whose superiority is so clear cut. More often than not, I have at least two exceptional candidates. It comes down to the little things and a thank you note is one of the little things that has pushed someone to the top.

    Reply
  27. KT

    Hmmm I’ve always been instructed by mentors, colleagues, etc to send an email AND a handwritten. I’ve had managers mention it as one of the deciding factors in hiring me over another candidate, and all have mentioned it in a very positive light.

    Of course, my handwriting is (SELF-BRAG ALERT) oddly beautiful–12 years of Catholic school coming through :) I once got a rejection where, at the end, the hiring manager asked me if I would write her daughter’s wedding invitations and would pay me, like that was a consolation.

    Reply
    1. Jen S. 2.0

      That’s…a first. Unless you have been applying for jobs as a calligrapher or other visual fine artist.

      Reply
  28. MM

    When I was first starting out in my field, I always sent handwritten thank you notes, then graduated to emails over the years. Now that I’m a hiring manager myself, I don’t care if I get a thank you email or note. If they thanked me in the interview for the opportunity, I think that’s sufficient (even if they don’t, but clearly appear interested and genuinely happy to be speaking with me, I know they are thankful). Letting whether you receive a thank you make or break their candidacy?? I personally find this really appalling. It perpetuates the “us vs them” mentality where some managers think they’re big shots and their employees are their minions. This isn’t the mark of a good manager to me.

    Reply
    1. Alternative

      So glad to hear this. I always thank the interviewers warmly before leaving, and the email after feels like overkill to me. Unless, you do have a great, legitimate reason to continue the conversation! Otherwise, no.

      Reply
  29. Alternative

    I haven’t been sending thank you emails after my interviews lately. I just haven’t found a good way to “continue the conversation” with an email that doesn’t feel forced or desperate to me. At least, it takes me a really long time to come up with a few short lines that don’t sound pathetic, and I often don’t have the time/energy to do it. I rarely have anything additional I need to communicate after an interview.

    We’re all busy, so the extra thank you email seems like a nice, but not critical, step.

    Reply
  30. Mike C.

    Once again, I feel like something that used to be, “something nice to do” and become for many a requirement.

    Reply
  31. jjw

    Thank you notes!? Yowza! In Australia and NZ I have only ever sent one – and that was when a company took a risk and interviewed me although I was coming from another industry. I do send thank you notes in response to rejection emails because employers don’t always bother to follow up so I’m grateful when they do and I want to thank them for being considerate.

    You have to wonder – why does the candidate send the thank you note? You’d think the interviewer should be sending one to the candidate. After all, they’re usually the ones who’ve gone out of their way and put the most time and effort into the process – and they’re there to solve a problem for the employer. This whole convention seems to work on the assumption that the employer is doing the candidate a favor. I don’t think that’s the kind of thinking I would want to encourage. It’s (ideally) a relationship of mutual and equal benefit.

    Reply
  32. ZSD

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s nuts that the OP only checks her work mailbox every couple of weeks? I check mine twice a day since we get mail two times per day! This makes me wonder how often I’ve rushed to get something mailed out to an agency as soon as possible, only to have it sit around for a week once it arrives in the recipient’s box.

    Reply
    1. Sara

      Where I work, it’s not so much about whether I check my box frequently enough, it’s about whether the staff members who (among many other duties) are tasked with sorting and distributing mail had time to do it that day or not. I’ve definitely had things sit in the front office for 3 days before they made it into my mailbox.

      Reply
    2. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

      Actually, I didn’t even know where the mailbox WAS at my last job until I’d been there about six months.

      Reply
    3. Alternative

      I never, ever, get anything mailed to me at work. Ever. So, while there are certainly job where mail is a part of it, there are jobs where it is not at all.

      Reply
  33. BananaPants

    This is a tangent, but 2-3 years ago I did on-campus interviewing for a summer intern position and got a couple of emailed thank-yous including one from the guy I eventually recommended for hire (who was a full time hire after graduation and now works in my group!). Around a month and a half later I got a handwritten and VERY LONG thank you note from a candidate who I’d mentally put toward the bottom of the list within the first 5 minutes of her interview. It was…weird. We’re talking small cursive handwriting on the entire inside of the card and extending onto the back. She’d clearly looked me up on LinkedIn and had reviewed my senior design project from nearly a decade earlier (!) and referenced it in her letter. Her tone was much more familiar than I would have expected from a college student looking for a professional internship, who I’d talked to for all of 30 minutes.

    A few weeks later HR sent out the rejection emails to the interviewed candidates who we weren’t proceeding with, and the card-writing candidate sent me an email about how distressed she was to have not gotten an offer since she felt we had such a “connection” and that after all, she’d put a lot of time into mailing me a handwritten thank-you. Um, no – she went right on my blocked senders list!

    Reply
  34. penny

    As someone who conducts a lot of “first” interviews, I’d definitely prefer an email and it makes more sense because I’d delivery speed. But I don’t care if I get one or not, it’s never impacted the way I felt about a candidate. I know a very few managers who do prefer to get one, but even they don care about delivery method.

    Reply
  35. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

    I had a manager once that was terrible for many reasons. After a round of interviews to fill an open position on our team, he bragged to me that he would never even remotely consider a candidate that didn’t send him a thank you note. We’d seen a total rock star candidate that day, and the manager — along with everybody else — couldn’t stop talking about him. Sure enough, that candidate didn’t send a note… and he didn’t get the job. I *still* can’t believe we missed out on that guy. Seriously, who thinks like that?

    Reply
    1. Greg

      I agree it shouldn’t be a hard and fast rule, but it’s become such a common practice by this point, I would wonder about the judgment of someone who never sent one (I’m not talking about someone who violated the OP’s 24-hour rule). Yes, as AAM says, evaluate it against the rest of their candidacy, but in my book that’s a pretty big negative, and the rest of their experience would need to be pretty good.

      Speaking of which, there’s one more reason to send a thank-you: To indicate your continued interest in the role! I once had a fantastic interview with a candidate who never sent a thank-you. I liked him enough to invite him to complete a written assignment that was the next stage in our process, at which point he replied and told me he had found something else. Lesson learned.

      Reply
  36. ADOA

    Within 24 hours seems unfair because some people like to reflect and write personalized emails. 48 seems more do-able (business days).

    Reply
  37. JHS

    I live in the Northeast and have always done handwritten thank you notes. You HAVE to do them the same day as the interview though and make sure to mail them the afternoon of the interview (I always schedule morning interviews, not for this purpose exactly but because I like being fresh and I just feel more “on” in the morning and you never want to be in an interview right after lunch). That way, if you live close by, the mail should get there the very next day, well within the 24 hour window–same as email. I think handwritten notes add a very personal touch and I have heard many people in my field express the same, although I don’t think anyone would ever write a candidate off for NOT doing one. It’s just a little something extra.

    Reply
  38. Jackie

    I find this interesting. I was taught that thank you notes were for times when you couldn’t/didn’t thank the person face-to-face. So, if you got a gift in the mail, you should send a note, or an e-mail, or make a phone call. If someone recommended you for a position and you didn’t get a chance to see them in person, then you should promptly thank them through other means.

    But, with an interview, the last thing people should do before leaving is to thank the person for their time. Sending a secondary thank you seems silly and pointless.

    Now I’m wondering what the norm is in my area. I’ve gotten 4 positions so far without any kind of follow up note.

    Reply
  39. JenGray

    The thing that I have run into with sending email Thank You notes (I send them whenever I can) but if you apply online through an automated system or even on Craigslist you don’t always get peoples email just a generic email. It is hard to tell from a generic email whether the person who you interviewed with will even see it. At my current job we use a generic email for all hiring and I will usually forward any thank you emails directly to the person who did the interview. But as a job candidate I wouldn’t know that so I always think you should take that risk if you can. At least, I would have the email showing I sent it.

    Reply
    1. Greg

      Why note just ask the interviewer for their business card, or if on the phone, what their email address is?

      Reply
  40. Greg

    A couple thoughts on thank-yous:

    1. I prefer email to handwritten largely because of the industry I work in (startups), the immediacy, and most importantly, because even the best handwritten note will get thrown away, whereas an email can spark further conversation.

    2. There is no hard and fast rule. If you think your interviewer is more old school, a handwritten note might go over better. You really have to judge the situation.

    3. All of that said, the overwhelming majority of thank-you notes will have no impact on your candidacy, based on the simple fact that the interviewer likely already made their decision at the end of your interview (or more likely, five minutes into it). If you bombed the interview, even the best note is unlikely to salvage your chances. And if it went really well, your best bet is to get something in quickly and check the box so they can move on to next steps.

    4. Much like cover letters, the best reason to really go to town on a thank-you is if you have something interesting to say. I read something once from the Five O’Clock Club that recommended treating your job search process like you’re a consultant, and therefore treating your thank-you like the follow-up from an initial client meeting. I don’t think you have to follow that religiously, but if you think based on the interview that you understand their business well and have something intelligent to add, by all means write a longer thank-you. I’ve gone beyond the standard 24-hour limit in order to write a more substantive reply, and in one case even used that approach to save what had been a mediocre phone interview. Again, it won’t always work, but done right, can really make your candidacy stand out.

    Reply
    1. Mary

      I would never throw away a card, or at least not any time in the immediate future after receiving it. I wouldn’t ignore it either. Chances are if I send you an email I’m going to get a canned response anyway.

      Reply
  41. Isabelle

    Slightly off-topic because obviously the OP is in a country where thank you notes are the done thing, but I would advise anyone looking for an international job to research how it is done locally.

    There are countries where a thank you note is not only unusual and unexpected, but can seriously harm your chances of getting the job.
    At best you will be seen as a suck-up, at worst people will misinterpret it as trying to unfairly influence the hiring process (especially in government jobs).

    Reply
  42. S

    I’m in the UK, and as far as I know, it’s not our work culture to send thank you notes (and in places I’ve interviewed in, wouldn’t be allowed to be taken into account anyway, as we need to complete score sheets based on the application and interview to pre-agreed criteria, but I’m interested – in cultures where this is expected, how do you know? In big companies, isn’t all hiring communication routed through HR, who might not be the ones who interview you? Do people routinely note down the full names of all the interviewers, and then google-stalk them for their emails, or is it common to be given business cards of the interviewers? Or is this why people post them, as it’s easier? If you’re interviewed by eg a panel of 3 people, do you thank everyone?

    I am always fascinated by other customs, but every time this comes up I’m intrigued. It’s also fascinating because (as I’m sure I’ve read in comments here) the interviewers are being paid to interview, and doing their job to try to get the best person, while the interviewee has had to take time off work, pay to travel to the interview etc, so it sits oddly… but yay cultural differences!

    Reply
    1. Greg

      Easiest thing is to ask for a business card at the end of the interview. Sometimes the recruiter/HR manager will give you the interviewer’s info when they send the confirmation email. And if all else fails, you can usually figure it out without having to resort to Google stalking. For example, if the HR manager you’ve been corresponding with, John Smith, is jsmith@chocolateteapots.com, it’s a pretty good bet that hiring manager Mary Jones is mjones@chocolateteapots.com.

      There are different schools of thoughts on how to handle multiple interviewers. My general rule is to send different messages if I have something different to say to each. If you have separate conversations with two people, it can be a little risky to send the exact same message to each of them (you never know who might forward). On the other hand, if you meet with a panel, I don’t think you have to stretch to come up with three original emails. A single note with everyone CC’d should be fine.

      Also, if you have one of those all-day affairs where you meet with half the company, I think it’s OK to come up with a basic template and maybe tweak it a little for the more important ones.

      Reply
      1. S

        Oh, interesting! I don’t think anyone I’ve been on a panel with has taken their cards to an interview – I know I haven’t, but I’ve only been on a couple of panels.

        The thing I’m wondering is doesn’t giving out your information mid-process open up interviewers to things like bribery, or threats and such? I guess I am also working from a culture where ideally the interviewing is all done in as short a time-frame as possible, and in my experience of watching and participating from both sides, it’s normal to try to get the decision out on the same day or the next day after the final interview, so it intrigues me, too, how a hand-written note could make any difference. I love hearing about things like this and trying to work out how they work!

        A follow-up Q…. If it’s a 2-part process, do interviewers acknowledge a note/email in the 2nd interview, or do they pretend it doesn’t happen? So many questions!

        Thanks for the answer, Greg!

        Reply
  43. Erin F

    Late to the party, but…
    Had an interview yesterday, got home, got a call from the company with an offer within an hour. I didn’t even have time to really process everything from the interview yet! But, since I really wanted the job, I accepted right away.

    So, should I still write a thank you? And if I do, will it be weird to say “thank you for the offer, I accept”?

    I’m erring on the side of writing the above with the addition of “can’t wait to start”.

    Thoughts? advice?

    Reply
    1. Greg

      What are you stressing about? You already got the job!

      Seriously, I think it’s always helpful to say something nice to the hiring manager after you get the job — more to update them, tell them you’re excited, etc. — but it’s not like they’re going to rescind the offer if you don’t.

      So just send them something quick and then go celebrate. Congratulations!

      Reply
  44. Mary

    I disagree with everyone saying email is the way to go. If I have a face to face interview with you, you should get a handwritten, hand delivered thank you note. Hand delivering takes care of the whole timeliness thing. If you don’t have a receptionist who I can drop it off with, or I’m unsure if it would be okay, I will send you a quick email thank you for your time and letting you know I would like to drop off or email a thank you note. But, then again, I’ve never gotten a job through this whole recruiter business. The jobs I’ve applied to I have directly applied to the person hiring me. Writing a handwritten note shows I thought enough of you to actually write a note personally to you and hand deliver it. Building relationships is key, and if my card annoys you, then you probably aren’t the person I want to be working for.

    Reply

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