hiring manager won’t give me colleague’s email address

A reader writes:

I have an interesting situation. I was recently flown to another state for an engineering position. I met with 3 engineers, and one hiring manager. After the first interview with one of the engineers, I realized that I forgot to get his business card. So at the end of the day, I asked the hiring manager if she could send me his email address so that I could send him a thank-you, or follow-up, email. She very gladly told me that she would send me his email.

The next day, I still hadn’t received an email from the hiring manager with the first guy’s email address. So I politely sent her a reminder to see if she could send me his email address. A couple hours later, I still hadn’t receive a response from her. At that same time, I sent her a separate email in regards to transportation reimbursements that the company was providing for me. She responded to that email within the next 15 min, but still had not responded to the email I send about getting the email address. I found it really strange that she responded very quickly to the reimbursement email but not for the other email I sent her. So in the same email thread of the reimbursement email, I sent her a brief response asking if she had received my first email asking for the guy’s email address. I did this because there were times when my email got sent, but was never received.

I still haven’t gotten a response from her about getting his email address. However, I was able to figure out his email address on my own based upon the format of the other interviewer’s email addresses, so I am fine in regards to sending everyone a follow-up email. But I’m a little concerned because she told me she gladly would provide me his email address. And also, it’s not a hard request by any means. So what gives?

Most likely, she has other higher priorities and simply forgot. Sure, it would only take 30 seconds to send it to you, but if she’s like a lot of people, she put the email aside and then forget about it.

Or who knows, it could be something else. Maybe she knows the guy is about to get fired. Maybe she doesn’t think he’s a great ambassador for the company and isn’t interested in encouraging interaction. It could be all sorts of things that we can’t tell from here.

But you also don’t really want to be the guy who asks three times for an email address just so you can send a thank-you email, especially when two of those times are just a few hours apart. In general, you can ask once for this kind of thing, but it’s not worth repeated requests.

{ 31 comments… read them below }

  1. Carl*

    And as a readers of this blog, we’ll respond at your first request.

    Good chance the guy is a busy person. Engineer, you say? Probably buried in blue prints and meetings and all sorts of things and may not even be near a computer except the begin/end of a day, and maybe the hiring manager knows this.

  2. Laurie*

    … or, like some people I know, the hiring manager is reluctant to give out a co-worker’s email address, is uncomfortable presuming that the colleague simply forgot, and hasn’t had time to check with the colleague if he’s fine with her sending you the email address.

    But yeah, stop asking. :)

      1. EngineerGirl*

        And if it is a really large company it won’t work, because they most likely have more than one John Lee or Steve Smith. Then the e-mail will go to the electrial assembler in Atlanta Vs the engineer in Chicago.

        I do like the idea of looking for the person on Linkedin. It’s a start.

        It is possible that the hiring manager won’t give out the e-mail. But it is not the same as someone wanting to get into the company. In this case, they already had an in person interview.

        1. Anonymous*

          Or the person has a name that you aren’t sure you have the right spelling for, such as Alison/Allison/Allyson (or some last names that are REALLY hard to figure out!)

    1. some1*

      This is what I thought, too. Or the manager forwarded your email to that person so he could respond to you directly.

  3. Satia*

    How hard is it to find an email address for a company if you know the person’s name? If you really want to email the person, you can use LinkedIn or other networking websites but most companies have a formula for how they create the email address for any employee. So John Smith, Engineer is smith.john@company.com or he’s jsmith@company.com or any of a myriad of variations. But the variations are limited and the only time there is a problem is if the guy’s name is so typical there’s more than one person with the same name and then they may add a 2 when they hire a second John Smith.

    Seems to me, and I may be wrong about this, but if you can find your own way to do this, you will show a resourcefulness that most hiring managers would appreciate. For certain, I wouldn’t ask the HR person again. Crazier still, if sending this person a thank you note is so important there’s this archaic practice of using the postal service.

    Relying on someone else to provide you information and/or a means to do something which you can, with a little resourcefulness, do for yourself gets you where you are now–confused about other people’s motives, waiting on information that may never arrive, etc. The person who knows how to get a job done in spite of complications, like not having a business card, is going to be the one who is remembered because what manager isn’t going to want to hire an someone who knows how to get a job done in spite of any and all obstacles?

      1. Catherine*

        Same here. And that’s how it was at a company I applied at, I really wanted to send the two managers I interviewed with a thank you email, but could not locate their emails anywhere (they didn’t give me business cards or anything). I asked the HR manager, whom I also interviewed with, if he could pass along my thanks, while I did the hunt. I checked LinkedIn, I checked the company website, I found old press releases…and still nothing. They were serious about keeping them under wraps. It didn’t help that one of them was named something like Jane Smith so jane.smith might be going to a completely different person.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I had the same issue recently, so I sent them thank-you letters in the mail. They said I would hear no later than today if I’m in line for a second interview, but so far I have not. I’m not too worried about that yet, but I hope the letters get there before they either call me or pass.

  4. Lisa*

    just go on linkedin, find him and write a quick nice to have yet note with your linkedin request. if he accepts, then you can followup with a thanks for connecting and more detailed note.

  5. The Other Dawn*

    My thought was that the hiring manager doesn’t want to give out an email just in case the candidate decides to email the guy everyday and make a pest of himself.

    1. Josh S*


      If OP has emailed 3 times in relatively short order simply to ask for an email address, what is the perceived likelihood that the OP will also ‘pester’ the engineer with multiple emails. It could quickly go from a “Thanks for your time” email to a “What do you think my chances are” to a frequent “what’s the status, what’s the status, what’s the status?” sort of thing.

      (OP, I don’t think you’d do that, simply because you’re wise enough to take advice from AAM, but considering it from the hiring manager’s point of view, I understand the reluctance.)

      At this point, drop it.

      In the future, recognize that if you have one email address, you likely have them all, since they’ll follow the same format in most cases.

    2. AmyRenee*

      Our company specifically does not give out business cards when interviewing for this reason – hiring managers don’t want to field phone calls or emails from candidates, they want it to all go through HR. Sounds like this LW found a solution, but for future LWs – just write a note to the person and ask HR to forward it on, or mail them a handwritten note.

      1. KellyK*

        Yeah, that’s a good idea. If companies deliberately don’t pass out that information, skirting that decision by figuring it out yourself is going to be *really* unwelcome.

  6. Brett*

    Having done a ton of similar interviews for engineering positions (day-long marathon interviews with 4-6 people), this is why I generally just email a thank-you to the hiring manager or the HR person and ask them to forward it on (one thank-you). It’s too hard to remember to get everyone’s info, people never have cards in their pockets, etc.

    If you have a particular point-of-contact for the hiring process, it seems reasonable that any messages can be sent to them. If there was a specific person who I had a really interesting discussion with or mentioned following up on something, that might be a different story.

  7. Just a Reader*

    Most company email formats are the same…can the LW not extrapolate what the email address may be? The worst case scenario is a bounceback.

    1. Anonymous*

      From the post: “However, I was able to figure out his email address on my own based upon the format of the other interviewer’s email addresses, so I am fine in regards to sending everyone a follow-up email”

    1. Jamie*

      If people do that, don’t read anything into not getting the information this way.

      Every place I’ve worked there are specific instructions not to give out names/emails of anyone without prior consent. Too many sales people try to collect contact info this way.

      1. Heather*

        Really? Because every place I’ve worked at email addresses are given out.

        I’ve called asking for clarification of spelling of people’s names in order to send thank you cards for the interview and just told the receptionist why I was calling. It was never a big deal.

    1. Jamie*

      This. If I’m going to give mine you don’t have to remember to get it, I’ll hand it to you – which I don’t do for everyone with whom I meet.

      That said – companies do have naming conventions for their email addys in most cases (as has been noted by other commenters) so a lot of people can figure it out. That’s why it’s nice not to have a last name that’s easily spelled just upon hearing it. Mine isn’t complicated – but the odds that you would be able to extrapolate how to spell it for email when only hearing it once are very small.

  8. Gayle*

    In addition to what other people said (the hiring manager is busy or doesn’t feel comfortable giving out email addresses), it’s also possible that this is in a role where thank you notes are not standard.

    Having done 150+ engineering interviews for Google, I think I got maybe one thank you, ever.

    If a candidate asked for my email address, the recruiter would likely not give it out. There’s no reason that the candidate needs it.

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