how much do thank-you notes really matter after a job interview?

A reader writes:

Last week, I had a phone interview with a very well-respected company in my area. After the interview, I sent thank you emails and cards to multiple people who were involved in the process. I customized each one based on how they helped me, and I sent them the same day of the interview so they could reach the office as soon as possible. Unfortunately, today I just got my rejection via email.

I hear all these stories about how thank you cards give applicants that edge, and that hiring managers look very fondly on them because of their apparent rarity. However, it didn’t work, and I am devastated I didn’t get this job. Are thank you cards losing their power (are more people using this strategy?), or is this the exception rather than the norm?

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with your logic here. Thank-you notes don’t guarantee you a job, and the fact that you didn’t get the job after sending thank-you’s doesn’t indicate that they’re not worth sending.

Think about it:  If you think a thank-you note should secure you a job, what happens if more than one candidate for the same position sends them?

So you’re drawing the wrong conclusion here.

Here’s the deal with thank-you notes:

* If you’re not the best candidate for the job, a thank-you note isn’t going to change that. No one is going to hire the lower-tier candidate just because of a thank-you note.

* If you’re the undisputed top candidate, the lack of a thank-you note probably isn’t going to stop you from being hired.

* However, when the decision is close between you and another candidate, a thoughtful thank-you note can tilt the scales in your direction — especially if the note isn’t just a perfunctory “thank you for your time” but contains substance that builds on the conversation you had during the interview.

* A thank-you note contributes to the overall picture of a candidate. It’s not generally make-or-break, but it’s a piece of the picture. It serves two functions:  (1) It signals that  you pay attention to the little things and care about presenting the best possible face to your candidacy. (2) It signals interest, by showing that you went home, digested everything you learned in the interview, and concluded that you’re still enthusiastic about the position. That can matter.

Now, there absolutely are hiring managers who don’t care at all about thank-you notes. But that shouldn’t dissuade you from sending them because there are also plenty of hiring managers who will tell you that a thank-you note has swayed their hiring decisions. And as the candidate, you have no idea which type you’re dealing with … so of course you should send thank-you’s. There’s just no reason not to do this very small, very quick thing that could impact your chances. Not that it definitely will, but it could. So keep on sending them.

{ 98 comments… read them below }

  1. anonymous*

    Completely agree with AAM’s assessment here.

    When I’m hiring, a thoughtful note just affirms that I am making the right choice and can stop my search.

    You are also very right to point out that a generic thank you note is just about as useless as a generic cover letter. I want to see the effort in the expression, not in the envelope-licking-and-stamp-sticking.

    In the interview process I went through to get my current job, I had great success (and got compliments) by mentioning specific things we talked about during the interview, and reiterating that they woudl make the right choice by hiring me… something like:

    “During our meeting I could tell that you are truly focused on _____. I feel that my ____ would be an asset to your team because ______.”

  2. Anne*

    The advice to send a thank-you note has become so ubiquitous that many candidates send them. I’m not complaining as I think it’s a great thing to do during the hiring process. However, during my latest round of interviews, all three of the top candidates sent thank-you notes after their interview, so it didn’t differentiate them from each other.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hopefully this is where the contents of the notes could differentiate them, as opposed to just the note itself! That assumes they didn’t all three send generic notes, though, which is fairly common.

    2. Anonymous*

      This is actually my reason for sending thank you notes. So many people do it now that you actually risk looking bad by not sending one. It’s almost shifted from putting you over the top to being a prerequisite.

  3. Joey*

    Yes to what Allison said but I also am starting to think someone who sends a snail mail thank you card or letter is behind the times. Email is better when possible.

    1. Laura*

      Totally agree with this. Back in the early days of the internet, before it was really okay to use email for day-to-day communication with “normal” people I interviewed for a job with a large company, dutifully mailed my thank you notes that afternoon, got the job, and about a month after I started, the thank- you notes finally made it to the people who had interviewed me. We all had a good laugh, but it also made me realize how many middlemen there were between my mailed thank yous and their intended recipients. I stick with email these days (though I suppose it can still get snagged by a spam filter, but when I was hiring I was constantly checking my spam box for incorrectly sorted emails anyhow).

  4. Joey*

    I’m also a little skeptical when a thank you is sent too soon. It makes me wonder if thats your automatic response or if you really thought about whether or not you’re really a good match.

  5. The OP!*

    Hi Alison! OP here, thank you for the answer!

    Yes, I made sure each of my thank you emails and cards are customized and have a unique message depending on the context of our conversation.

    You are also right in each thing you said in your answer. I was pretty devastated when I didn’t get the job, as it was a dream job in which I literally did everything I could to stand out. It does suck when it doesn’t work out, but you are absolutely correct when you say that there are no guarantees, but at worst I at least hope they see me in a positive light. Maybe they remember me and offer me something else, maybe not. Now that I had some time to mourn not getting the job, I can think much more clearly again.

    Again, thank you Alison!

    1. Chris Walker*

      OP I hope you sent a thank you in response to the rejection as well. I have had 2 clients hired in the past year after being rejected, one only 2 weeks after receiving her rejection letter. You can also do a 90 day (common probationary period) follow up. Now, you don’t write ‘I hope that loser you hired over me didn’t work out’. Just express conntinued interest in the company.

  6. NDR*

    I like to keep a stack of thank you notecards, a good pen and stamps in my purse/in the car when I go on job interviews. That way I can write them and drop them off on the way home/back to work. The interview conversation is fresh on my mind, and I can speak to specifics more accurately (which is especially helpful if interviewing with multiple people). Plus, the note will likely arrive the next day; it’s almost as quick as an email but with a little more personal touch. I doubt I will ever default to an email note, but that’s more because I love nice stationery.

    1. Clarissa R*

      I do the same thing. I can spend a whole hour at stationary shops just looking at all the cards… *weirdo!* :)

  7. Taye*

    I often wonder – do job seekers send both an e-mail and snail mail or one or the other? I am still confused on that part. I noticed throughout the comment section, several job seekers send an e-mail with snail mail to follow?

    If a job seeker have to send both, can the content be the same or does it has to be different? If so, isn’t that additional work? I am all for thank-you’s – in fact, I enjoyed writing them, but I would prefer to do one or the other rather than doing both because I would be compelled to compose two different thank you’s – if that makes sense.

    1. Chris Walker*

      One or the other I think. It’s up to the job seeker to decide. The nature of the position and company, the communication preceding the interview and your take on the interviewer(s) should help you decide.

      I heard of one gentleman who also sent a thank you to the receptionist who helped him navigate the process. When he came for the second interview, his note was on her desk next the picture of her kids.

      The worst that can happen when you send a thank you is it has no impact. You’re not going to piss anybody off sending one.

      1. Tami*

        Nice touch with the gentleman sending a thank you note to the receptionist. The gatekeepers often have more influence than one may think. Plus, if you do get the job, then you already have a “friend” on your first day on the job. Very nice touch, indeed.

        And good point in saying you are not going to piss anyone off sending a thank you note.

  8. Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed.*

    The power of a Thank You note:

    One time a coaching client of mine was struggling to decide which of three candidates to hire for an admin assistant. He was a VP at a high-tech company so this person would be high profile and very busy. I had him list every possible facet of the job and “force rank” his applicants as to how he thought they would do in each responsibility. Amazingly, all three applicants scored exactly the same.

    He then asked a few colleagues (who had also interviewed the applicants) to do the same, and again, all three applicants had the same scores!

    It came down to us evaluating the content and –yes– even the NEATNESS of their Thank You notes (all three had sent them), and that was the tie-breaker! One of them stood out.

    In the end, all three probably would have been great in the position, but the one with the neat, well-worded Thank You note got the job.

    All that to say “you just never know . . .” So send Thank You notes!

  9. Lil' B*

    As a recruiter, I never get thank-you letters/cards/emails from candidates. Ever. EVER. So just the fact that you took the time to write one at all, would score points with me. It’s a common piece of advice, but so rarely done. I wonder why?

    1. arm2008*

      As an IT contractor I work with a number of recruiters, and my general impression is most of them view candidates as commodities, of value only when they can sell them. That might not be you, but that’s what a lot of candidates see.

  10. Annr*

    I had a marathon interview and send thank-you emails to the people who took the time to talk with me. I was offered a job elsewhere and never knew whether they were going to hire me, but I felt like a note was in order because I had enjoyed meeting them.

    I went ahead and connected to them on LinkedIn because you never know what the future will bring and maybe they’ll be looking for a job someday and I’d want to help them out if I could.

    1. The OP!*

      Annr. Do you think it’s a good idea to connect with the interviewer and recruiter via LinkedIn even though they rejected me? If you were a hiring manager or recruiter, would it feel awkward to have a person you rejected pop up on a LinkedIn invite?

  11. Sabrina*

    I have never, ever, ever gotten an offer after sending a Thank You note. Not once. And I’ve done it a lot. In fact I consider it part of the kiss of death trifecta. The other two things being 1. I actually really want the job and 2. I think the interview went really well. Any of those three things happen and I’m not getting the job. All three together? The universe might implode.

  12. Frisky whiskers*

    I will never understand this thank you note business – especially if you are invited to the interview. Has any candidate ever received a thank you note for attending an interview? Isn’t my time as a candidate just as important as that of the hiring manager? Besides, if you are easily influenced by a templated thank you note, then you are a fool! They just end up in the shredder. What a waste! Who started this stupid trend? Soon job seekers will be expected to bring gifts, loot bags and/or leave a tip as if a job interview was some kind of service. I am done with the BS business of the thank you note, thank you very much!

    1. Laura*

      Heh. We did actually have an interviewee send a food-filled gift basket after an interview at my old company once. The interviewer had mentioned that the interview hadn’t gone well, so none of us would touch it.

    2. Anonymous*

      I agree with this. They didn’t call you for an interview out of a sense of altruism; they called because you had something they wanted. And if one little thing about you turned them off at any point down the line regardless of your ability, they’d drop you like a hot potato. I go along with the thank-you note route because it’s expected, but it’s silly and backwards.

      I responded to an ad once for a medical study for a pretty rare genetic condition I have. We were paid generously and they took all kinds of steps to make sure we had gas money, food vouchers, etc…not to mention that the medication they were testing actually helped with some of the chronic pain I experience! At the end, we got the thank-you notes and a gift card. Yet under basically the same circumstances (with regards to who benefits most) in the job market, I’m expected to thank someone for giving them what they asked for?

      Sorry, no. Like I said, I go along with it now, but when things turn around and employers need to search far and wide for qualified candidates, this ridiculous practice will stop except for the few who continue because they simply didn’t think that hard about it.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You know, the problem here is that we’re calling them thank-you notes, when that’s not really what they are. Think of them instead as follow-up notes, which is much more accurate. Most employers could give a crap less if you THANK them for the interview — but they do appreciate thoughtful follow-up on the conversation that demonstrates you’re enthusiastic about the job.

        1. arm2008*

          Thank you! That makes so much more sense than sending “thank you” notes. I will now think of them as follow-up notes.

          1. Anonymous*

            I’m a bit confused though.. Thank you notes have been around forever.. ever since I entered the job market 15 years ago we were taught to send them. So I don’t get why you are thinking this is some kind of sucking up to employers due to hard economic times?

    3. anonymous*

      Well said!! I always wondered who came with these business etiquette rules. Just like telling people they should follow up after the interview to let the employer know you are still interested. Huh?? If I was interested in hiring a candidate I would not forget to call them. Same goes with the dumb long cover letters.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think you’re arguing here about what should be, which is an interesting discussion — but that’s different from what is, and what will generally help candidates in their job search.

  13. Stacey*

    As a hiring manager, I will also say that what you put in that thank you note is key.

    Sending an e-mail? Good.
    Sending a handwritten note? Nice touch (assuming you have legible penmanship).

    Sending them to everyone you meet with. Good.
    Differentiating them? Better.
    Sending a ‘form letter’? Meh.
    In my organization the thank you notes tend to get forwarded around within hiring committee so “boiler plate” language doesn’t make you look good.

    Reaffirming that you are excited about the position and reminding me what you bring to the table? Awesomesauce.
    Asking me about salary or benefits or what we can do for you? Total turn off.

    1. MikeJ*

      Sounds to me like you want a brown noser to fall to his knees at your presence. If asking about salary or benefits is a total turn off, then what do people apply for work in the first place? People work for money and not for what they can do for the company. What a person can bring to the table is beneficial to a company but the reason people look for work is because they need to make money to pay their bills and take care of themselves. You sound like a recruiter or HR person that is as clueless as they come, it’s no wonder HR is being outsourced.

      1. KellyK*

        Yes, of course, people work for money. But the whole point of applying for a job is to tell the organization *what you can do for them.* If given the choice between someone who was really interested in the work itself and someone who only cares about getting paid, you’d be foolish to choose the one who has no interest in the job.

        1. Spokker*

          In my experience, I have come to believe that companies do not want employees who are too interested and care about the company or the product, because it means they are more likely to speak up when something is happening that they do not like. Although I think this situation is more applicable to creative businesses.

    2. moore*

      Why is it that asking about the salary would be a turn off? Are we forgetting that this is a type of contact negotiation? Why should an employer’s sensibilities be “turned-off” with talk of compensation. Think of all the time you would save being straight forward and giving a salary range. The topic of compensation will eventually have to be discussed and if the salary is low, do you think that talk alone would persuade an employee to take the job? I am always leery of the employer who doesn’t advertise the salary with the job advertisement. I question the company’s solvency and integrity in employee/employer dealings.

      1. MikeJ*

        Moore, the reason they don’t want to discuss salary and send the applicants through a wild goose chase during the hiring process is so they can stroke their egos and feel empowered knowing they can get away with wasting their applicants’ time. Think about it, they use the car salesman technique, make the buyer wait, wait and then wait some more hoping that the tired buyer will just give in to their demands in the negotiation. I mean what is the purpose of going through 3-5 interviews to find out the pay is well below your range, just like companies that are so outdated that they can’t even parse a resume. These people are not busy at all, in fact, that is how they stay busy, waste the time of others so you can pretend to be special and a hard worker.
        Notice how many recruiters are starting blogs and pretending to be consultants, I guarantee you 100% of the time they will talk about their previous responsibility without naming the company, all they know to say is that the company was very successful. By being vague they will fool a few, but if you were so successful, you wouldn’t be ashamed to give more details.

  14. class factotum*

    We were hiring a new customer service rep (who would be visiting customers). There was the shoo-in candidate, Jane, the assistant of a broker we had been working with for years. We knew her work, we knew her, the interviews were pretty much just a formality.

    But we interviewed Cindy as well, just for balance.

    Cindy interviewed very well (as did Jane), and then she sent a thank-you note to every person she had spoken to. Jane did not send any notes.

    Cindy got the job.

    1. Spokker*

      This seems irrational because you knew the work of Jane but not Cindy. All you had from Cindy was an interview experience that, as we all know, is a process in which people put their best foot forward. But you actually knew Jane’s work, the stuff she was going to produce for you had you hired her.

      You treated the interview with Jane as a formality, and perhaps she picked up on that as well, and decided that a thank-you note was not needed. In this case, you sent the wrong signal, because you instead picked the candidate that decided to kiss your butt, probably because she read a blog that told her to.

      Do you see the flaws in your thinking?

      1. MikeJ*

        I am in total agreement. Every company I have worked for did not receive a thank you note from me. In fact, I had a coworker that was basically trained by these so called professionals that live by all the rules that recruiters make. He was prompt, sent a thank you note, showed up on his first day all prepared with notes and everything, but it was all robotic. The guy could not learn a thing, he was well trained to be a ‘professional’ in his behavior, but he could not do the job, so he got laid off, and he actually called his coworkers to say he enjoyed working with them. I knew this person well and basically his background included a few layoffs. Basically what I am trying to say is that it doesn’t matter how nice or professional you are, if a company is not interested in you, they will not hire you or keep you, period.

        Get real people, is every person in a company nice, courteous, professional, ethical? I am not saying that being professional and nice is a bad thing, but many managers are not the nicest people you will ever know so for them to expect the candidates to go above and beyond for them when they will probably not even send you a notification if they don’t hire you is just ludicrous.

        1. Spokker*

          I mostly agree, but the only thing I would disagree with is that I would not necessarily equate layoffs with being fired. It’s going to depend on the company and the situation that led to layoffs. Sometimes whole departments are sunk, top talent and all.

          I would look at situations where there were across the board cuts differently than cuts where one specific division or office was targeted. In the former situation I think they do cull the weaker, but in the latter situation there is probably no concern to keep top talent.

          1. MikeJ*

            I agree, in fact I know some talented individuals that were laid off first because they were a threat to their incompetent managers.
            The point I was making is that the applicants that follow every single advice that the recruiters blog about are not always successful just because they modify their cover letter for every company they apply to and send thank you notes to each manager after the interview.

            A follow up note is not a bad idea, however if your potential employer if staffed with people that need reminders about an applicant’s skills after they had just discussed it the same day or the day before then that company does not have a bright future.

            You know what’s funny, if you have Facebook, try adding a recruiter or HR representative that you know and watch their posts. Every single one of them is always posting tips on how to apply for a job and what to do during and after the interview, I mean seriously, get a life people.

  15. @hrrex*

    Another great entry on the AAM blog. Spot on in every way and great dialogue from your readers as well.

    While a thank you note won’t change the fact that you aren’t the best candidate for the job (as was noted), it may distinguish you as a “keeper” — someone who I might want to hire for a similar job in the future.

    It’s never a waste of time to do the right thing! Keep sending those thank you notes!

    1. The OP!*

      That’s encouraging to hear. I also sent a thank you after my rejection, so I seriously hope they keep me in consideration in the future. Holding on to a little optimism!

  16. Jeff Spangler*

    I’ve heard that a majority of candidates _don’t_ send any thanks. If this is true (or even close to true, like 1 in 3 don’t), is it the decline of good Old School manners?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s definitely true. I’m sure part of it is about manners, but I think part of it is also people not realizing that this is recommended.

  17. Anonymous*

    I have always sent thank you notes, it’s just manners! I agree with Allision, sorry that you didn’t get the job, but your logic is a bit flawed…

    We hear all these horror stories from our boss about candidates not having any manners and never sending thank you notes. We have not hired a single one of them!
    Funny.. we had a man interview and send us all Thank you TEXTS right after the interview!

  18. Catherine*

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to chime in.

    I don’t think that a thank-you note is going to get anyone a job, but I think its value after an interview is the same as in all other situations–it’s a cue that you have grace and are aware of the people around you. A good thank-you note makes the receiver feel warm and good about themselves, and then they’re glad that they spent time and effort on you.

    A well-written note rather than a perfunctory one shows practice and polish in one-on-one communication. Really, I think that one reason many people don’t like doing sending them is that they feel awkward and shy. But you get over that with practice, and then your comfort shows.

    For what it’s worth, when I interviewed for my current job, I was impressed by my (then potential) boss’s subtle and beautiful manners. It went in the plus column of things I knew I could learn by working for him.

  19. Anonymous*

    How about sending a “Thank You” because you really mean, “thank you” for the opportunity, and not just because you hope it will get you the job ?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sure, that’s fine. But it’s even better if you focus less on the thanks (after all, they’re not interviewing you to be charitable but rather because they think they might want to enter into a business arrangement that they’ll benefit from) and more on following up on what was discussed in the interview itself.

  20. Michael*

    This advice is spot on.

    But, the way i see it, a well written thank you note will never hurt your chances. You may be a shoe in, or you may not have a chance, but the thank you note won’t affect the outcome. On the other hand, a poorly done thank you note could sway things in the wrong direction.

    So, if you’re gonna do it. do it right!

  21. Rachel*

    I really don’t get this thank you note business at all. Perhaps it’s an American thing (I’m based in the UK) that I just don’t get on a cultural level? – kind of like when fast food servers say “have a nice day”, when it’s evident that they don’t really mean it. I’ve never sent a thank you note as a candidate, would never dream of doing so in the future, and would be a bit bemused at best if I were to be sent one by a candidate I’d interviewed. On a bad day, I’d be inclined to perceive a candidate who thanked me in writing merely for interviewing them to be more desperate than a candidate who treated me like a person they were engaging in a proposed business arrangement with.

    At its core, effective recruitment is about a person with the right skills offering those skills to an interested party in exchange for a fair level of remuneration and other benefits (career advancement, pension plan, whatever is of value to them as an individual). Because it’s about a fair exchange of benefits between parties, and not merely about one party (the prospective employer) doing the other party (the potential employee) a favour, “thank you” doesn’t feel like an appropriate sentiment to express in a formal written communication. It’s a subtle point, but it’s kind of the same reason why in etiquette you send your “regrets” when you wish to decline a formal invitation, not your “apologies” – the latter would imply you’d have been doing the inviter a favour by accepting their offer, the former communicates that your declining the invitation is your loss not the loss of the person who invited you; apologies are what you send to meetings you *can’t* make, regrets are what you send to weddings, birthdays, etc that you won’t be able to attend. Similarly, sending a thank you note implies that you’ve got *something to be thankful for*, when in realty, if you’re the right woman or man for the job, you’ve *both* got reason to celebrate, but neither of you needs to feel thankful as you will both have given and received in the deal.

    Never mind, possibly it’s not the world and just me that thinks this way. Thank you for reading this comment. Do you want fries with that, etc?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — that’s why I wrote about that it’s better to think of them as follow-up notes, which is much more accurate. Quoting from my comment above out of laziness: “Most employers could give a crap less if you THANK them for the interview — but they do appreciate thoughtful follow-up on the conversation that demonstrates you’re enthusiastic about the job.”

      1. Rachel*

        So, do you think that it’s also advisable for employers to send ‘follow up notes’ to candidates that they thought were super (but whom they’ve not made a hiring decision about yet)? Just, you know, to demonstrate that the employer is enthusiastic about the candidate. Or, do you think that the potential employer has demonstrated their interest amply enough already by making the far greater gesture of taking time out of their valuable schedule to meet the person in question? If you don’t think that employers should be doing this, what do you believe the differences are, given that recruitment is meant to be about a fairly-balanced exchange of benefits between potential employer and prospective employee?

        Whatever label you give them – follow-up notes, thank you cards, sycophantic missives, whatever – it still comes across as the act of a desperate individual to me, and not something that people who claim to be engaging in an exchange of valuable commodities should be doing.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hey, if you don’t want to send them, that’s your prerogative. But the reality is that they can be an influential factor in an employer’s decision when they’re choosing between two equally qualified candidates. If you want to refuse on principle, go right ahead. But know that it may have a result that you don’t want.

          I preach constantly about interviews being a two-way street, candidates needing to interview employers right back, employers being wrong to act like they hold all the cards, etc. And there are plenty of pieces of the hiring process where I take a stand on principle — as you’ll see if you read this blog, which I get the feeling you haven’t — but these notes aren’t one of them. Pick your battles.

    2. Spokker*

      Rachel, yours is surely the most rational, practical and, more importantly, honest approach.

      The hiring process is, at its core, about decreasing information asymmetry. The employer attempts to learn the most about the potential employee at the least cost. The employer also wants to protect itself from fraud and misrepresentation. This is why employers rely on things like degrees, certificates and past work history. They may want to see examples of past work such as writing samples or a portfolio. They follow up on provided references. They do background checks to partial out any potential criminality.

      Relying on things like thank-you notes, exact styles of dress and other superficial factors only muddles the process. It creates noise in the mental data points a company may have on prospective employees. Even if those things are important on some basic level, they are probably over-relied on as predictive factors in an employee’s probability of success at any given company.

      I send thank-you notes to someone that gives me a present or performed some favor for me out of the kindness of their heart. I do not send thank-you notes to potential employers.

      I wonder how many people have lost their homes, their families and their livelihoods because they did not send thank-you notes. Am I next?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oh come on. I’ve said repeatedly that the point of the note is not to thank them, but rather to follow up on the conversation in a way that strengthens your candidacy. If you want to opt out of that, that’s up to you, but I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t spend the five minutes on something that could bolster your candidacy.

        1. Spokker*

          Ask a Manager, if I’m applying to 40-50 jobs, and I must present a unique cover letter/resume/presentation/song & dance to each potential employer in order to convince them that working in a mortgage firm is something I’ve always dreamed of doing since I was a little kid, would you agree that the time spent to send a unique thank-you note to every person who I shook hands with might add up?

          I understand that employers have workers by the balls right now, but let’s bring some dignity back to the labor market. You, Ask a Manager, are completely right that it is probably a very necessary thing to do, but I question the wisdom of promoting it further.

          I think this way because telling every employee to send a thank-you note to every employer regardless of how you feel cheapens the letters written by people who really mean it.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            You’re probably not having 40-50 interviews though.

            In any case, I promote the practice because I want my readers to maximize their chances of getting jobs, and I don’t think it’s an infringement on anyone’s dignity. (I DO take a stand against things that I do think are degrading.) But really, people do this after non-interview business meetings all the time; I think it’s normal, not onerous, and not degrading.

            1. MikeJ*

              Ask a Manager, do you believe a hiring manager should also send a thank you note? I am sure you don’t. The reason recruiters like yourself want to enforce thank you emails or follow up as you call them, is to promote brown nosing. What is the purpose of following up to show that you are interested when you have already shown your interest by applying with that company and taking time off from work or your personal time to go to the interview?
              I can tell you from experience that companies that differentiate potential employees by their ability to send thank you/follow up notes and having the interview questions such as ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years’ figured out are the companies that have massive turnover rates.

  22. Rachel*

    “But the reality is that they can be an influential factor in an employer’s decision when they’re choosing between two equally qualified candidates.”

    Yes, it would be an influential factor for me too. I’d choose the less desperate one.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not desperate to follow up on a conversation with additional thoughts about the role and the fit. It’s actually a pretty normal business practice — consultants, for instance, do it all the time after business meetings.

      1. Spokker*

        Would you consider the argument that thank-you notes may be over-relied on? I want to point out the post by class factotum.

        In the context of information asymmetry, this employer had it made. They personally knew the work of Jane beyond what you might discover through the normal hiring process. In terms of probability of success and fit, they struck gold.

        From the employer’s perspective, Jane was the better choice simply by playing the odds. But Cindy, who they had less information on, sent thank-you notes. Cindy “got the job,” as posters who post this sort of thing love to dramatically reveal with a single concluding sentence.

        Now, either one of them was probably fine. Hell, it sounds like a go nowhere job anyway. Who cares? But the point is that people attach so much importance to these superficial factors.

        It’s as if the story template is, “We had two candidates that were evenly matched. Candidate A kissed our asses. Candidate B didn’t, but was otherwise polite.”

        “Candidate A got the job.”


        Relying on thank-you notes at this point is about as productive as flipping a coin.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the problem is with equating thank-you notes with sucking up. A good thank you note isn’t about sucking up or even about thanking anyone. It builds on the conversation and actually strengthens the candidacy. It also shows enthusiasm for the job, which is a valid thing to factor in. Now, of course, there are other ways to show enthusiasm (such as in the interview itself), but this is one way of several.

          I’ve never seen anyone argue that a thank-you note convinced them to hire someone who they otherwise wouldn’t have been strongly interested in, but they’re part of the overall picture that a candidate paints of herself.

          1. Spokker*

            It would be silly to rely on the overall picture that a candidate paints of himself/herself/itself. That “overall picture” is a house of lies. You want to rely on verifiable facts. Did they really get earn degree? Did they steal nuclear secrets from their last employer? Did that reference sound like the guy’s buddy from college?

            Nothing beats the old fashioned method of looking at a person’s history and making a decision. Not just a decision, but a goddamn decision, one you can be proud of.

            Now employers have you taking these worthless tests for Christ’s sake. I’ve gone on interviews where they send you to a room and you take a personality test on the computer. I sent a thank-you note to IBM.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I shouldn’t have said “the overall picture a candidate paints of herself,” but rather “the overall picture of a candidate that you gather.”

              I think I’m at the end of my bandwidth for debating this today, but hopefully I’ve explained where I’m coming from.

  23. Tasha*


    I participated in the first of three rounds of interviews for a position today. The first interview was only introducing and telling a little about ourselves and participating in a group activity with other candidates (the second and last group will participate tomorrow). The supervisor of the position (HR Director) moderated the entire time, but there were staff members from other departments of the company who were there to monitor our interactions and take notes (we met the other staff members before starting the activity). After they’ve compared notes, they’ll determine who will be invited to the next round of interviews.

    What do you think about sending thank-you notes/emails to the HR supevisor and HR staff member? I already have their email addresses because I’ve interacted with them via email before in the application process. Or should I send thank-you notes to the HR supervisor, the HR staff member and the staff members from the other departments? I don’t have the email addresses of the non-HR staff members, so I could send them thank-you notes via postal mail. Or should thank-you notes be done for an actual Q&A interview session? Would it be too much to send thank you notes after each of the three interviews? Thank you.

    1. Spokker*

      Tasha, you’ll also want to send a thank-you note to the secretary, the guy who brings the bottled water every week and anybody who happened to walk by the office that day.

      It doesn’t hurt!

        1. If you can't beat 'em...*

          The bottom line is that employers do have jobseekers by the balls right now. I recently interviewed for a job that I had done before at a global mega corporation (trust me, everyone in this thread has heard of this company) for more than 5 years. I found out they ended up hiring a kid, fresh out of college who had barely any experience. Why did this kid get the job? Perhaps he knew something. Perhaps he gave the hiring manager a blowjob. He clearly didn’t get the job because he was qualified because he wasn’t.

          The job market isn’t fair so the argument that the most qualified person should get the job PERIOD doesn’t cut it.

          If sending a “thank you” note is going to get me that job, I’ll send it. Yes, it’s BS that I have to indulge in such a superficial gesture to get a job that I’m more than qualified to do but arguing about how unfair it is seems pointless.

          I also don’t think it makes people look desperate. It’s a sign of manners. If you don’t want to send a thank you note, don’t send a thank you note but don’t complain if you don’t get a job that you feel qualified for. If you really want a job, you need to do anything and everything you can that will sell you in a positive light…even seemingly meaningless gestures like thank you notes.

  24. Khillian*

    Spokker, even if you don’t agree with using thank-you notes, do you really have to be purposefully insulting? I find it difficult to take your opinions seriously when you’re being so unprofessional.

  25. Pupnut*

    Here’s my 2 cents. The theory that the ultimate decision comes down to experience, skills & education is complete rubbish. Saying that all employers are selecting candidates based on practical suitability is very foolish & not giving the employee any credit at all. I work in recruitment and from my experience, personality & values are at least 30% of the final decision process. I have had perfect candidates on paper. Perhaps they interviewed very well too. BUT if their personality, manners or grace doesn’t fit comfortably with the specific company they’ve interviewed for, then forget it. It doesn’t matter that they can ace the job from day one. Because MOST employers know, that in MOST jobs, anyone can be trained up that small amount extra above their ‘almost great’ experience. But with a great personality fit comes a great collaborative working arrangement. Both employer & employee are happier & that relationship lasts longer & more fulfilling. Thank you notes or follow up notes are an additional extra piece of information to help recruiters understanding the interviewees personality. I.e. are they polite, do they retain subtle comments made in interview, is the note written with slight arrogance or subtle insecurity. It’s a resource that recruiters can use to understand whats going on in the interviewees head AFTER the face to face. Do they believe their interview went well? Do they show signs of subtle concern. Are they still acting rigid & by the book of perfect yet generic formality. Most best advice is: write the letter or email. Don’t do it immediately. Do it 5-24 hours after. Obviously customise it based around specifics that were spoken about in the interview. Be courteous with remembering names, facts etc. Show a bit of personality. Assume that the recruiter liked you. No thank you or follow up note? Well that’s your choice. But if I was hired without sending a thank you, I’d be concerned that the employer or recruiter hasn’t done their job properly. Just like buying a nice pair of shoes. They can look great & function perfectly as footwear. But if the fit isn’t there & they don’t make you feel fabulous, then what’s the point.

  26. technology-professor*

    This is really the bottom line, no matter how educated or experienced the candidate, it is the personality fit that makes a huge impact. I can also say, that both, the employer and potential employee can sense from the interview if things will work out for both or not. I love your wise piece of advise!!

  27. Penny*

    An old post but if anyone cares to comment, what kind of thank you note is better: e-mail or snail mail?

    An e-mail is faster so ensures the potential employer sees it sooner but hand written snail mail is more personalized…

    1. Trashman*

      E-mail. But handwrite it on handmade parchment with a quill in Old English, and be sure the prose reads in a Shakespearean manner. Restate the main points of your cover letter and add one new sell point not mentioned previously. Scan the paper to PDF and attach to email, and you’re all set!

  28. connected guy*

    Thank you notes do not matter. I have sat on several committees and not one person who sent a thank you note got the job.

    While some might think it gives them the “edge”, it actually does not.

    Cheesy thank you notes usually means you’re reaching. You either have it or you dont.

      1. MikeJ*

        Well you certainly talk like you have all the answers. Are you not the one that’s promoting thank you notes because you believe they work, so does that override the experience of the people that do not send thank you notes and get the job?

        Well, I guess the good news is that HR is dying slowly but surely. Companies like ADP have been trying to outsource them and even they were dumb enough to have their own HR department which is now being outsourced by them as well. Soon enough the need for recruiters and HR will die altogether which is a good thing as they are totally useless, a talentless organization that promotes brown nosing since being skilled and working hard is not an option.

        The only reason recruiters exist is because there are many companies that only want temporary workers so they avoid paying benefits, somehow they think this will help their chances against the Health Care Mandate of 2014 but once they start being penalized, they will need to change their hiring practices and the need for recruiters will finally be useful only for companies like Walmart which never use their services in the first place.

    1. Trashman*

      I work in HR and there are 3 things that get the job:

      1. Smiling continuously through the interview while nodding emphatically at everything interviewer says
      2. Signing a paper in your own blood claiming allegiance to your potential employer
      3. Thank-you notes explaining your love of the company and absolute admiration of the HR staff, and the 3 main points of your cover letter, along with one new sell point detailing the knowledge imparted upon you by virtue of walking through the holy shrine they’re lucky to call their workplace.

  29. Anonymous*

    I have been re-reading these posts because only this week have I begun to send follow-up thank you emails. Mostly, because of wanting to experiment and see if there are any noticeable differences in interviews.

    Over my whole work career, I have gotten great jobs with no thank you notes written. One job, yes I send a note after the interview. But all my other positions – no thank you note!

    I have thanked recruiters and people who helped me get the jobs, once I got the job, that seemed an easy decision and it was sincere. But the other situations I got the positions based on my education, experience and personal interactions. Seems fair enough to me.

    This week I thought I would send out some follow-ups to express some personal appreciation and to thank someone if indeed, I did like them and had something positive to say. But they were heartfelt and honest. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have sent them.

    One person was really astounded and pleased by the nice email, but I still don’t think I will get the job. That’s ok, it was good practice and it felt good to be kind and generous to this nice man.

  30. Hunter*

    It all depends. I’m interviewing while employed. My job and my career are very demanding. It’s hard for me to find time to book interviews, never the less engage in time consuming niceties that might not help. I am not arrogant but I’m a realist. Until I get an actual offer it is my current employer that has the right to monopolize my time.

    I am one who is better at face to face interaction.

  31. Autumn*

    Thank you notes didn’t work for me unfortunately. I recently interviewed at a company I really wanted to work for and sent out personalized thank you letters to all of my interviewers. Well, I didn’t get the position. I think its just sort of icing on the cake, if you are already the best tasting ‘cake’. But then again, because many applicants do this, it just seems like the norm.

  32. R*

    Despite what people are saying here, thank. you notes may actually hurt your chances. In federal positions where hiring officials receive hundreds to thousands of applications, those thank you notes not only increase administrative load, but demonstrate a misunderstanding of the federal process, which is supposed to be fair, equal, and unbiased.
    Personally, I am not going to send a thank you note. If there is a tie between highly qualified candidates, call them in for a second round of interviews tound

  33. R*

    If a decision on who to hire is based on thank you notes, that only serves to demonstrate how egoistic and irrational the hiring manager is. Decisions should be based on credentials alone. The purpose of the interview was to get to know the candidate in person, so why are people reverting back to faceless communication? I agree with the concept of follow up letters. It should be a follow up letter and not an unsubstantial thank you.

  34. Frankey*

    Interviewers have thier reputations to protect. Thier personal skills are being scrutenised for weekness in the same way yours are. People forget this when being interview. Weekness is key in interviews and not strength. Interviewers dont take chances with strong people. Strong people make thier own way in life. Interviewers are not strong people, after all, look at what they do for a living, they may be on twice what you are expecting, but thier no Nelson Mandela. Sending a ‘Thank you” letter!! Your on your knees, looking up at a cheezy grin who “likes that kind of attention”. What if? on the other hand, you don’t send that useless document? Now your Interesting! Now he might have other offers? why? Lets look at him again!
    Am I a canditate?

  35. Anonymous*

    I just had an interview and decided to send a snail mail thank you card because I did not have an email address. I went home and created my own thank you card by taking the job description and creating a wordle amd found images to represent the department. I think it went over well because it was between me and another candidate and I hope that it was out of the box enough to make me stand out.

  36. Anonymous*

    Thank you notes are pointless. The way I look at them, it’s just another way of the candidate “sucking up.” There was a time when thank you notes gave a candidate an edge over others. But when other candidates for a position trip over each other with thank you notes, then it’s a problem. I would rather hire the candidate who does NOT send a thank you note than the one or ones who do. Thank you notes are often presented as a solid job search strategy, but this is akin to a candidate writing “References: Available upon request” on his/her resume. It’s outdated. It does not work. If you’re a job seeker, save your sanity and thank you for not wasting your time writing them.

  37. Babybluentexas*

    The comments here are quite bitter and seemingly defiant. If this is how you present yourself at your job interviews, hate to tell you.. It’s not the thank you, or follow up note that’s doing you in. It’s the opinionated stance you are taking.

    I’m in the south, and I send thank you cards. Not to suck up, not to remind them of me, but to express how truly honored I am to have been chosen for the opportunity to get to see what they have to offer, and what I can offer to them. I never expect a card will make or break me. I never expect to get a job offer from every interview I go on. But life is all about connections, and you never know where you might encounter the hiring manager at another business or know someone who is hiring there. If you leave a positive impression, you are being gracious, and word will get around. Take the time.. And be grateful because there were probably 400 other resumes who didn’t even get a chance to sell themselves in person. At least you had the opportunity. :)

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