should we reject job candidates who don’t send thank-you notes after interviews?

I’m presenting this email exchange without comment with minimal comment.

Letter-writer:  I am very new to the world of hiring, having just recently been moved into an HR role at my company. I have found your blog so helpful! But I searched and didn’t see an answer to this question…

How can I best decline a candidate who did not follow up after an interview and as a result is not being moved forward in the process? Is this email a good way to handle it:  “We enjoyed meeting with you last week. We are sorry we didn’t hear from you regarding your continued interest in the marketing role. As a result, we will remove you from future follow up. Thanks again for taking the time to meet with us.”

I could just send our regular decline note, but I think it’s helpful to let the candidate know that him not following up is what took him out of the running.

Me:  Wait, why are you rejecting him just for not following up? Did you ask him to follow up? If not, I’m very confused by this!

Letter-writer:  The hiring manager for this role has a pretty strict rule about this and will not move forward with a candidate who doesn’t know to send a “thank you”/follow up note (via email or snail mail) after an interview. Do you think that’s a bad policy?

Me:  That’s a terrible policy! Plenty of great candidates don’t follow up — and considering that you’re probably not contacting them since you’re ready to move forward in some way, it’s really a double standard (expecting a candidate to show more enthusiasm for you than you’re showing to them). Your hiring manager is going to lose really strong candidates by doing this, and it’s unreasonable and punitive. Are you able to convince him not to do this?

(To be clear, I encourage candidates to send follow up notes after an interview — but you certainly shouldn’t reject people for not doing it.)

*   *   *

If any of you are doing this when you hire, stop it immediately, as it’s utterly ridiculous. Candidates aren’t there to kowtow to you; they’re there to mutually determine whether each side is interested in a business arrangement. Rejecting people for something like this is absurd — and isn’t going to serve you well in hiring strong candidates, which is the whole point.

{ 301 comments… read them below }

    1. Jazzy Red*

      It just sounds so much like the kind of thing our former HR VP (and brother to the pres/ceo) would do. And they couldn’t figure out why the company was falling apart.


    2. WWWONKA*

      I so agree with this. This post shows the total inexperience of the OP. I recently interviewed with a company and totally forgot to get business cards and emails from the panel. I hope they do not have this crazy mentality and disqualify me for a job I can do with my eyes closed.

  1. Evan*

    I’ll wholeheartedly agree with Alison! Until I found this blog, I had no idea thank-you notes were appropriate or expected or even accepted – I would’ve considered them overly presumptuous! (As well as unnecessary, given that I’d already expressed my interest in an interview.)

    Now, I know better; I’d have sent thank-you notes after my last interview if they hadn’t called me back before I could write them. But this is probably still going through the heads of a lot of good candidates who don’t have the advantage of reading this blog.

    1. Felicia*

      Although I now always send thank you notes, I wouldn’t want to work for a company that rejected me for not sending them, and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere that would hire me just because I sent one. And really, it’s not common knowledge (for people who read this blog), that you must always send them, and in some countries it’s even less common. I personally like them because i find i’m more likely to be kept up to date with the process if I send one, but if it’s required, say it’s required. This is just a horrible thing to do, and a horrible reason to reject people.

    2. SevenSixOne*

      I thought they were inappropriate too! I send them now because I know I’m supposed to, but they seem so desperate and Eddie Haskell-ish.

      1. Mizzie Dizzie*

        Then do do what you do not believe in it is a no brainer, and maybe you will be hired.

    3. Kay*

      As a manager, I am surprised to read so many people commenting that they thought they were inappropriate. Is this due to a specific age range being taught something different? I get quite annoyed when I spend over an hour with a candidate and don’t get a thank you for your time and a little bit about how the interview made them sure they were the right fit. I wouldn’t refuse to hire someone if they didn’t send one, but it shows they know common courtesies of the professional world.

      1. Val J*

        Kay, I am in the UK and have been both an employer and an employee for over 20 years. I have NEVER sent a thank you to an employer for interviewing me, neither have I expected this as an employer interviewing someone for a role. You say you would get annoyed after spending time with a candidate if you didn’t receive this? but that’s your job! you are not giving them your time free, you are being paid to do so!! If anything, we should be thanking the candidate! they will have got there at their own expense, spent time preparing for the interview and the hoops they will go through. To say they should thank us is silly and patronising, frankly.

        1. Zoe*

          Can’t agree with u more Val J.
          Just like Alison said “Candidates aren’t there to kowtow to you; they’re there to mutually determine whether each side is interested in a business arrangement.”
          Some interviewers just look down at the candidates from height.

      2. Michelle*

        @Kay I recently met with a company that contacted me and requested an interview. I drove 75km, and spent 1.5 hours of my time engaged in active discussion answering his endless questions about my skill sets and I did send him a thank you email.

        “I get quite annoyed when I spend over an hour with a candidate and don’t get a thank you for your time”

        Perhaps I should expect a thank you for my time as well.

        1. C*

          Honestly, I do think it’s important to send a thank you email. I mean, it literally takes 5 minutes to write one. That being said, I would not not hire somebody who is a perfect fit for the position, yet did not send a thank you note. But if I had to pick between two equally qualified candidates with one sending a note and the other not, I would absolutely go for the one who took the extra time to remind me of his/her enthusiasm and motivation via a thank you message. Whether you like it or not, sending a thank you note is- as an unwritten rule – part of the job application culture in the U.S.

    4. Linda*

      I am now faced with the same situation at this time (did not ask for business card) and I am hoping that I get the job. One of my issue is, some people may not have access to a computer. Some people are still dirt poor but willing to work to improve their living status. If one is measured by not sending a thank you letter, that judgement stands in the way of life’s advancement. However, I do believe in thank you letter, but will not reject someone because of the lack of one.

  2. fposte*

    At that point, it sounds like it’s required just like a cover letter. Might as well put it in the job posting if so.

    1. Eric*

      I almost consider cover letters so standard, that I could see rejecting someone who doesn’t have a cover letter, even if the application doesn’t explicitly call for one.

      1. MrSparkles*

        From personal experience I’d take offense to rejecting someone who doesn’t include a cover letter “even if the application doesn’t explicitly call for one’.
        If you want it, be it a cover letter, thank you note or whatever, ask for it. Some companies may care for them, others don’t.

        1. Kay*

          I’m a little late to the party, but wanted to comment on this topic. A cover letter really depends on the job they are applying for and their experience. I’m currently looking for a materials management specialist in surgery. It is not entry level, so most people should have a cover letter saying something about why they are interested and perhaps something valid that isn’t on the resume. However, if a candidate has direct experience, they don’t really need one.

  3. ProcReg*

    I’d be willing to bet this person is insufferable to work with/for. He worries a lot!

    As Dale Carnegie said in “How to Stop Worrying…”, “Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let’s expect it. Let’s remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day–and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got?”

    BTW, this book is fantastic!

  4. Anon*

    And here I’ve gone back and forth with my boyfriend who refuses to write thank you notes. He says he would never hire someone who did send a thank you note because it’s: 1) A waste of resources 2) A waste of time to write and read 3) Presumptuous and silly to think a thank you note could sway someone’s decision.

    I argue that it’s a nice gesture… but goodness gracious this is crazy. I may have to show it to him :D Although it might make him more against thank you notes.

      1. Anonymous*

        Relief for that. Because if people are deciding for or against a candidate based on something as minor as that they do not belong there.

        If it is extremely tight between two great candidates I can see it swaying someone. But it shouldn’t something you say you’d never hire someone who did or never hire someone who didn’t.

        Unless the job was writing thank you letters, and you asked for a sample and they didn’t get it to you. (Yay I found an example where this wouldn’t be absurd!)

        1. the gold digger*

          We interviewed two candidates for a job. One we had been working with for years – she was at a client site – and we all loved her. We only interviewed the other person as a check.

          Second person was fabulous in the interview and she wrote each of us a thank-you note. First person didn’t write a note.

          This was a customer-facing job. We decided that we wanted someone who would make that little extra effort. Second person got the job.

          So yes, thank you notes can make or break you.

          1. Mike C.*

            So I guess her loyalty for so many years contained no moments where she showed extra effort? I’d leave the company if I were subjected to artificial standards like that.

            1. the gold digger*

              1. She was not our employee. She was an employee at a client of ours. She was not loyal to us, or not any more loyal than she was to anyone else. Why should she have been? We were not her employer.
              2. Apparently, she did not have those moments, because the person who worked the most closely with her did not fight for her.
              3. We were all wowed by the second person, who went through the extra effort during the interview. We liked Person #1, but we wanted someone who would really take care of our customers.
              4. It’s not an artificial standard. See #3.

              1. Briggs*

                Ok, if an external candidate is OBVIOUSLY better qualified than another external candidate that you’d already worked with; then of course your decision was correct. Your original post made it sound like the thank you note was the only deciding factor between a good internal candidate and a good external one.

                1. Anonymous*

                  It doesn’t. It’s easier to use menial things like thank you notes to eliminate people from jobs than it is to use your judgment as a hiring manager to see if that person will actually DO a good job, fits into the culture and will go above any instruction given. Good mangers know that a thank you note is not indicative of any of that – for all the reasons in these comments: people have jobs, lives and don’t necessarily have the time to send you a thank you note right away and/or they don’t want to pester you.

            2. Briggs*

              Yeah, wow. I may be overly sensitive right now (because the hubs got passed up for a promotion after being told it was basically his by an external candidate with a better degree but no experience) but I believe internal candidates deserve a little more respectful treatment. I sincerely hope you took into consideration their work quality over the years: not just how the interview and communication surrounding the interview went.

              Personally, if I had a well qualified internal candidate who I liked, knew wanted the position, and knew would do a good job; you’d better do something pretty darn spectacular as an external candidate to get me to pass them over. I don’t think a thank you note qualifies as pretty darn spectacular.

              1. Joey*

                That’s frequently a double edged sword. Very few internals are exceptional (by definition). Given the choice between taking a chance on someone who looks like they will be exceptional (external) vs. someone whose proven as average (internal) I’d almost always take a chance on the external. Loyalty doesn’t make you exceptional it just makes you loyal.

                1. Mike C.*

                  Very few internals are exceptional (by definition)

                  The definition of an internal candidate is a candidate who already works for the company, where does “exceptional” come into play?

                2. Joey*

                  Most hiring managers are looking for someone who will be exceptional. Obviously most internal and external candidates are average, but you don’t have as much data on the externals so you’re essentially betting that you’ll find an exceptional. But given the choice I’d probably bet on the external person who has all the data signs that point to exceptional over the internal has already proven to be average. Odds are the person will be no worse than average and may be exceptional.

                3. Pussyfooter*

                  Mike C.
                  There’s a business theory that your internal candidates are always as good as they’re going to get (a known quantity), so the only way to get a better hire is to take the external one (50/50 chance). I don’t know if it holds true, but I’ve read this advice in a magazine before.

                4. Mike C.*

                  It’s not a 50/50 chance though. If your employees suck, it’s much better than a 50/50 chance, and if they’re awesome, it’s much less.

                5. Pussyfooter*

                  Exactly. (If Mozart works for you, do you automatically ignore him and try to find a better composer for your project?)

                  I’d like to hear a more thorough exploration of this idea because I have no hiring experience of my own. I was just trying to explain that this is a working theory going around. Joey didn’t invent it.

              2. Anonymous*

                +1 –
                the statement: “This was a customer-facing job. We decided that we wanted someone who would make that little extra effort.” : Does not guarantee that this person would have been better with customers than the other (who knew the company better – BTW). It just means that they went the extra step in an effort to impress. That’s it. It’s not right that the thank note was given so much weight.

                1. Forrest*

                  People are eliminated for all kinds of reasons. Frankly, deciding to choose someone who put in something extra over someone who didn’t isn’t a crazy idea.

                2. Laufey*

                  You kind of also have to figure that, for the most part, people are on their *best* behavior for interviews and job searching. If someone’s late to an interview (without an eight-car-pile-tractor-trailer-jackknifed-on-the-interstate verifiable kind of excuse), what can you expect them to do once they already have the job and are relaxed? If someone doesn’t write a follow up while trying to upshow every other person interviewing, will they write follow ups once they have the job and have no competition for the position.

                  tl;dr: Considering a the writing or not of thank you is reasonable for tie breakers in customer-facing/service jobs, but is unreasonable as a requirement for progression/consideration at all.

              3. The gold digger*

                She was not an internal candidate! She was the secretary for a broker we had worked with. We all knew her from working with her as the broker’s secretary, but as much as we liked her, the other candidate was better AND the other candidate wrote us thank-you notes, which was how we wanted our customers to be treated.

                1. Green*

                  Agreed. I didn’t send a thank you note after my most recent round of interviews (which led to my new job). I did my “extra effort” up front in preparing for the interview. I showed my interest in the company by dropping $2000 to fly myself out to the interviews (two rounds) and put myself up in hotels. I didn’t write a thank you note because I also had to fulfill my commitments at my current employer: immediately after my interview I had to catch a red eye back to where my current job was, sleep for a few hours, and leave again for another business trip (and catch up on my preparation for that) involving 16 hour days.

                  By the time I would have had time to write a thank you note (4 days later), I already had the job offer. Thank goodness I wasn’t “disqualified” over something so silly.

            3. Z*

              I can’t believe they expected someone who had been working with them for years to send a formalistic thank-you note…

          2. glennisw*

            Sure, but it was part of the aggregate impression you had of the two specific candidates, in this case. Having a thank-you note serve as a tie-breaker is one thing, but rejecting someone simply because they don’t write one? I don’t agree with that.

            How’d the second person work out?

            1. The gold digger*

              She was fabulous. We all loved her. The customers loved her. She was enthusiastic and took great care of her clients and she brought great new ideas to the office. I would make the same choice again.

              1. you don't get it*

                Just my two cents The gold digger you just don’t get it. Your getting slammed because you turned down someone you had a great relationship with because she didn’t send you a thank you note. If #2 was simply a better fit for the job then the thank you not did nothing. If #1 was a friend of your business and worked for years with you then you were wrong to pass on her just for not sending a thank you note. It would be akward to send a thank you note to someone you were close and already had a good relationship with. I’m sure you don’t account for the customers you lost for her bad mouthing your company for not getting the position they thought they had.

        2. Bea W*

          Totally relief! Anyone who thinks thank you notes are a waste of time and resources, is probably someone who would also never show appreciation or give positive feedback to their employees.

        3. Mary*

          I have written thank you notes and have not been offered the job and for the most part, they were not replied to. The one thing I can add is that at my last job, the manager who hired said I was the only one who wrote a thank you note and she liked that. Not sure if that was a deciding factor or not.
          I have also seen on this site people, who received the thank you notes, say they thought the notes were a bother. I have also asked co-workers if they wrote thank you notes. Most replied only if they really wanted the job. Maybe that is also the thought process of the hiring manager. I guess to each his own.

    1. some1*

      “He says he would never hire someone who did send a thank you note because it’s: 1) A waste of resources 2) A waste of time to write and read 3) Presumptuous and silly to think a thank you note could sway someone’s decision.”

      1) After spending $200 on a new suit for an interview I didn’t get, the $6 at Walgreen’s for box of Thank You notes wasn’t that big of a deal.

      2) I have spent more time combing job ads, waiting for interviews in reception areas, and waiting for responses from interviewers than I ever have crafting a TY note. Which should have taken the interviewer a minute or so to read.

      3) I have never thought my TY note would sway an employer who’s decided not to hire me. I see it as acknowledging that they took the time to seriously consider me and that I was grateful for the opportunity to interview.

      1. Elaine*

        Most thank you notes are emailed these days, or at least that’s what I do, that’s what I’ve seen, and that’s what my husband did (and he received job offers for both of the jobs he interviewed for).

        1. some1*

          Right, I was pointing out that even if someone buys TY notes and stamps the “resources” are pretty negligible compared to other expenses of interviewing.

      2. Terra*

        Imagine if you are in a department interviewing for 10 jobs and interviewed 10 candidates for each. Who wants 100 thank you notes clogging the inbox?

        1. Forrest*

          What’s going on in your department that you have ten open positions and 10 candidates for each?

          (And HR personnel should expect tons of thank you emails to be in their inbox. Its part of the job.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’ve had 10 open positions at once before — when staffing a campaign, for instance. (And I was a hiring manager, not HR. I didn’t object to tons of thank-you notes though — although in my experience only about 15% of candidates send them, and far more women than men.)

            1. Pussyfooter*

              I’ve seen a call center bring in 50 people at once for Xmas. It happens a lot.

              Alison, I’ve never heard a breakdown of thank you writing by gender before…Could (even well written) thank you’s somehow telegraph something sexist or old fashioned or otherwise negative about a candidate?

              1. Anon with a name*

                I don’t know why a thank-you note itself would come across as old-fashioned, but I was thinking that (re: the above discussion about handwritten thank-you notes) if you’re applying for a technical position (or even any position in a heavily computerized field) a snail-mail note is probably going to make you look out-of-touch (as opposed to an email).

                Now when you actually have the job, if you’re thanking people for other things, a handwritten card is a nice gesture. But I was thinking it might count against you in technology fields since it seems like you’re not “using email where you should” or something like that.

                What does everyone else think?

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                No, I don’t think thank-you notes telegraph anything sexist or old-fashioned. But I’ve definitely noticed more women sending them.

                I agree with Anon with a Name that handwritten thank-yous do come across as a little old-school to me. Now, some people like that — but it’s business communication, not a letter to your grandmother, so I prefer email. I’m not penalizing candidates for using postal mail for these, but I think email sends a more modern signal.

                1. books*

                  My husband was told he was offered his current job over the other candidate because he emailed a thank you and the other sent a card.

                  [Don’t worry. There were other reasons too.]

              3. Marie*

                A former hiring manager of mine put A TON of weight on the thank you notes he received after interviewing, and he especially loved the handwritten ones. He thought it showed extra effort. But he was really old school. He also violated nearly every suggestion that Allison has ever made regarding hiring practices and good management. He hired a lot of really incompetent people based on which way the wind blew. Drove the rest of us crazy.

          2. Bea W*

            I’d love that kind of pool. Even when we have open positions, the candidate pool isn’t always so inviting. 10 interviews for one position? Not in my universe!

    2. Jubilance*

      Every job I’ve ever gotten, I’ve always gotten the offer the very next day after I interviewed. In my case, I probably wouldn’t have even gotten my thank you notes out before they decided to make me an offer.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, I was wondering about that. Plus for all the people who go on about how handwritten/snail mail is so awesome, these days I wouldn’t trust that the thank you note would arrive in time to make a difference. If you do it at all, e-mail is the only way to make sure it shows up before time is up.

    3. Sadsack*

      When I accepted my current position, which was an internal move, the hiring manager told me that one of the things that acted in my favor was that he interviewed eight other internal candidates and I was the only person to send him a thank you note.

      I like to send thank you notes because it is an opportunity to express that I am further encouraged to believe that it would be a good fit for both of us based on the discussions we had during the interview process and also comment about some particular things that were discussed. It gets them thinking about me a bit more.

    4. Rob Bird*

      You should send him a note with the following: Thank you Mr. Boyfriend for your input as to the validity of thank you notes. I will take this under advisement.

    5. Andrea*

      Honestly, cut your losses now with this boyfriend. His rationale is really stilted and doesn’t take into account how actual human society works. He won’t send a thank you letter/influence letter after a job when he only can gain from it? What other social conventions is he ready to jettison–birthday cards, thanking you for a favor, etc.? Think about that attitude and how grating it would be in a life partner.

      1. Forrest*

        Considering how many people don’t send birthday cards or forget to say thank you for favors, I think you’re overreacting.

        We all have some random beliefs we hold strong to for some reason. So he’s are thank you notes for interviews. Big deal.

  5. Kate*

    What if it gets lost in the mail? In the mail room? The email gets caught up in a spam filter? Thank yous should be an added bonus not a requirement.

  6. Sabrina*

    I have never once gotten a job offer after sending a Thank You note. I’m convinced they don’t actually work.

    1. ali*

      Me either. The jobs I’ve gotten I’ve always had initial offers in my email box before I’ve even had a chance to send a thank you!

      1. Bea W*

        I find this so odd. It doesn’t happen in my industry. Too much paperwork and approval and collating feedback from the rest of the team. My current manager actually made an immediate decision to hire me, but even the verbal offer (whilst the gathered the final signatures) was 2 weeks in coming through the corporate red tape!

        1. ali*

          I was shocked once because I was interviewing at a very large university for a faculty position, which I expected to take a LONG time because of paperwork. I came in for the interview the afternoon that the position posting closed (I was only scheduled to interview prior to closing because I was in from out of state on my own dime and let them know I was in town – save them the cost of having to fly me out to interview later). At 5:02pm, 2 minutes after the position actually closed, and less than an hour after I left the interview, I got a phone call with the offer. Basically, they knew they had to move quickly or they were going to lose me. Proved to me that even places with a lot of red tape can make things happen fast if they really want to and have someone in charge who knows what they’re doing.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They don’t get you the job. But if you’re already a strong candidate, they can strengthen you — so if they’re choosing between two strong candidates, it can make a difference.

      1. COT*

        I did have one employer (my first college job) who offered me the job on the spot, but told me later that she didn’t feel entirely comfortable with her decision to do so until she received the thank-you note. It may not have won me the job, but it sure made her feel a lot more excited about me as a candidate.

      2. Sabrina*

        I know. I’m just saying. Every.Single.Time. I have sent a TY note, I have not gotten the job. For me, it seems like the kiss of death. If I really want the job and felt the interview went well, well sending a TY note is just the trifecta of not getting the job!

          1. Anon for now*

            I was on an interview panel once where the TY note actually hurt the candidate. She came across as pompous in the interview, and the note reinforced that. Instead of being anywhere near gracious or enthusiastic, it was a page long diatribe about how well qualified she was for the position, copy and pasted exactly and in its entirety to everyone on the panel immediately after the interview (we sit 3 feet away from each other). We passed. When I initially interviewed, I sent a short thank you, also copied to each member of the panel, saying how glad I was to be interviewed and that I was so excited at the prospect of doing this job. Hired, and was later told what a nice touch it was. Make sure it’s a true thank you and not a last ditch “hire me, I’m the best!” (Though you seem lovely and not at all pompous, Sabrina.)

            1. Pussyfooter*

              “a page long diatribe”
              See how helpful that note was for the hiring committee?
              Who says thank you notes aren’t useful? ;’)

      3. EngineerGirl*

        This exactly. It’s butter on freshly baked bread.
        I always send thank you notes. It basically says: Thank you for meeting with me today. I’m really excited about the zz organization. I believe my experience in xx can help you with your yy problem – specifically by (action). I hope we can work together in the future. Best wishes on your search. Sincerely, EG

        That’s it. Thank you with a wee bit of follow up. It’s electronic so hiring manager can forward it as needed to justify my hire.

    3. fposte*

      That doesn’t make sense, though. That’s like saying resumes don’t work because you didn’t get those jobs. They’re a way to fill out a picture, not to leapfrog other candidates, especially since some of those other candidates probably sent follow-up notes as well.

      Unfortunately, there really isn’t anything in hiring that will guarantee you beat all the other candidates, because you never know exactly what other candidates have. That doesn’t mean these things have no effect, though.

        1. Pussyfooter*

          what NutellaNutterson said:
          Maybe your thank you notes aren’t quite on target or something? After reading here, I’ve realized I was doing mine by rote, and can do so much more with them :)

    4. Felicia*

      Although I do always send thank you notes, i don’t want them to be teh difference in whether or not i get hired. I’ve both gotten and not gotten jobs i’ve sent thank you notes for so i’m convinced that at rational companies it’s probably nice but won’t be the difference between hired or not.

      1. Jessa*

        Exactly, it should not be a make or break thing unless there’s so close a call between people that it’s impossible to do anything but nitpick.

    5. Anonymous*

      I’ve never gotten a job without sending a thank you note (but I always send a thank you email). I always use my thank you notes as more of a follow-up, as Alison suggests, to let them know that I’ve thought about our interview and maybe reflected on something we discussed, as well as thank them for their time. For example, I left one interview worried that I had hesitated in answering a question, so I specifically addressed my experience in and enthusiasm for that area with a sentence in my follow-up note. I got the job.

  7. bemo12*

    Absolute insanity.

    I usually find that the strongest candidates are busy people with jobs and other things on their plate. To reject someone because they didn’t have the time to send out a thank you note is ridiculous.*

    You’re going to be stuck with a limited choice with a policy like this.

    *Not that strong candidates don’t write thank you notes, just they shouldn’t be penalized for something so trivial.

    1. Jane Doe*

      And since employers seem to like people who already have jobs, this policy may be causing them to reject someone who went straight from the interview to work and forgot about sending a follow-up note (or couldn’t access personal email) because they were busy working.

  8. some1*

    A couple of points come to mind:

    A) How do you or the Hiring Manager *know* he didn’t send a Thank You? Snail mail gets lost all the time, especially at large businesses. Or maybe the stamp fell off. And if he sent an email, it could have been sent to the wrong recipient and he never got a notification of that.

    B) The candidate may be on the fence about your company or contemplating other offers and thus didn’t want to “renew his interest in the role” until he decided.

    or even C) He had every intention sending a Thank You but had an emergency that took priority to his job search like a family or friend emergency or death.

  9. A Teacher*

    This gets the good old Carolyn Hax “Wow” that’s about all I can say to someone that would require a thank you note. I mean they’re nice to get but not required.

  10. Cat*

    Also, I know for fact that some career services departments at universities tell students not to send thank you notes. Is it terrible advice that they should be barred from giving? Absolutely, but that’s not the students’ fault, so I don’t want to penalize them for it.

    1. Tina*

      It’s stories like that that make me cringe for my profession. And I’m thankful that I don’t personally know anyone that would ever tell a student to flat-out not send a thank-you note. Which is not to say that they’re mandatory for every situation, but to tell them not to bother? That’s a different story.

    2. TychaBrahe*

      I attended a tech school program back in the late 1980s that recommended *messengering* over a thank you note. I flat out told the advisor that might be appropriate for a six figure college administrator position, but it was ridiculous for an entry level person with an AA equivalent.

      He also suggested we pad our resumes so that a job washing dishes at McDonald’s became a “kitchen manager.” I asked what was wrong with saying that my work experience didn’t relate to my new skills, but I had a history of hard work, promptness, and attention to detail.

  11. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    I worked with a hiring manager who refused to hire male candidates who did not wear ties to their interviews. Of course, it is good practice to wear a tie and jacket to an interview, but I always thought that it was ridiculous to decline a perfectly good candidate simply because of their fashion choice… so what I would do is make sure that I let candidates know that our dress code was business professional and if I was asked to elaborate I would say “suit and tie for men”. So I guess what my point is, if you have a hiring manager who refuses to hire candidates who don’t send a thank you note (and isn’t willing to budge on her silly policy), maybe tip off candidates… I am not saying come right out and say “Betty Hiring Manager wont hire you without a thank you note”, but maybe send the candidates her e-mail and encourage them to reach out to her if they needed to follow-up on anything … something to that affect. I do have to say, as someone who interviews candidates all day long, I very rarely get a thank you note, so if that were a requirement, we would be missing out on a lot of great candidates!

    1. Seal*

      In my experience, it’s always better to dress up than dress down for an interview. There’s a difference between a “fashion choice” and what’s acceptable to wear in the workplace or to an interview. Most industries and professions have some sort of accepted dress code, and expect candidates to at least meet if not exceed it. The norm for my workplace is business casual; if someone comes in for an interview wearing jeans – even nice jeans – they won’t be taken seriously. Same goes for middle management and higher positions – if a candidate shows up in open-toed sandals or wears an extremely low-cut top (both of which have happened here, BTW), chances are very good that they won’t get hired.

      On the other hand, while it’s nice to get thank-you notes, it’s definitely not a requirement. I’ve heard far more comments about inappropriately dressed candidates than those who did not send thank you notes.

    2. PJ*

      It only seems fair to give your candidate ALL the information to succeed in a job search. “Please send us your cover letter, resume, and follow-up thank-you note.”

      I once had an interview with a manager like this. Luckily for me, it was through a recruiter who clued me in, and I had blank notes in my car which I filled out in the parking lot and walked back into the building to be delivered. I got the job, and it was an excellent relationship on both sides. I often wondered what would have happened if I had mailed (this was pre-email) the cards the next day, and a decision was made before my thank-you cards had arrived.

      I say, if it’s a requirement of getting the job, let them know ahead of time! This reeks of disfunctional relationships in which one party says to the other, “Well, if you don’t know, I’m certainly not going to tell you!”

    3. Cat*

      I think part of this depends on the job and industry. I don’t know that I’d ding someone for that for a staff position, but I think I would for an attorney position. It’s so outside the norms of professional attire for attorneys not to wear a suit and tie to formal events that I’d be extremely concerned about what other professional norms the candidate hadn’t internalized. And, perhaps tellingly, it’s never come up; I’ve never had a candidate show up without a suit and tie for men or a suit for women.

      1. Decius*

        I actually had the reverse occur to me. I showed up for an interview in my best suit and tie. The search committee (it was a library position) were wearing “business casual” attire and from their phrasing to certain questions they seemed to feel they were a very casual place and my suit suggested I was too formal for their culture. I didn’t get the job and while there were other good reasons not to hire me for that position (I didn’t have all the qualifications they wanted in all areas) I did definitely leave with the impression dressing in a suit and tie would be held against me.

    4. Elizabeth*

      In one of the recent searches we did, we interviewed 3 candidates. One came in directly from doing patient care and was wearing scrubs. One had been on duty, clocked out early & wore jeans and a western shirt. The third asked to be interviewed on their day off and wore a suit, despite being in a patient care position.

      One of my colleagues, who always skirts the edge of the dress code, was upset that I marked down the person who wore jeans. I told her that it showed a lack of thought about the position, because the minimum dress code for our area is clearly stated in the employee handbook, and I expected any internal applicant to have checked into it. We’re a business-casual to business-formal department, and I expect people who want to join us to dress that way.

    5. Windchime*

      Dressing up in a suit and tie is definitely not required in my industry (IT). We are a business casual shop, and the guys wear nice button down shirts and casual but nice slacks or chinos.

      We had two recent candidates for an open position. One guy looked super sharp; nice suit, good looking, even smelled good. But he had a head full of marshmallow fluff. The next guy wore a nicely pressed button-down shirt, pressed slacks and I don’t even think I noticed his shoes. He looked fine and wasn’t wearing cologne. And he was smart and qualified, so we hired him despite his lack of a fancy suit and a thank-you note.

      It’s so interesting how different industries view this dressing-up and thank you note thing!

    6. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

      In our industry it isn’t uncommon for people to show up in khakis and a polo shirt to interviews. We hire a lot of entry-level candidates and I just think that many of them consider simply not wearing jeans as being dressed up. So while yes, I do agree that from a candidate’s perspective they should certainly dress more on the professional side for interviews…. from a hiring manager’s perspective, should simply not wearing a tie really disqualify them from getting a position? Maybe I am just being too nice. :) Of course, if they show to an interview in jean shots and flip flops, that’s a different story. (yes, someone actually did that here before)

      1. Manda*

        I saw someone show up for an interview in a hoodie once. He was probably in jeans but I didn’t notice. He also brought his kids to sit in the waiting room.

  12. MJ*

    Excellent policy! As a good worker with an in-demand skillset, I have some choice when it comes to where I work.

    My greatest fear is walking into a sh**show of a company, which it sounds like yours probably is given its hiring priorities.

    Alas, I’ve always sent a follow-up email. Maybe I should stop!

  13. Allison*

    I once read that not sending a followup note was an interview deal-breaker, and since then I’ve always made sure to follow up after an interview. It is helpful; it shows consideration for the interviewer, and shows you really want the job, plus it can help you stand out if they interviewed a lot of people. On top of that it’s a great way to include any pertinent information you might have forgotten to mention in the interview.

    But it shouldn’t be a requirement.

    I mean really, are you going to reject a perfectly good, well qualified and (otherwise) well mannered individual just because they neglect a followup note?

    1. Beti*

      This is very late to the game here but this is the reason I’ve always sent post-interview thank you’s: to help me stand out a little from the candidates. And as others have said, if a manager thinks politeness like this is “a waste of resources”, we are probably not going to be a good fit for each other anyway.

  14. Amber*

    I’ve had two interviews at two separate places and maybe this is what’s holding me back from getting jobs…? :P That, and the fact that I’m 17 and have no work experience. Blegh. >_<; Maybe I should start. Haha.

    1. Anon*

      That is not why you’re not getting the job. You might want to have someone look over your resume, but your first job in this economy can be quite difficult to get. Keep applying, two interviews and no job offer isn’t indicative of anything in this job market. It takes quite a few interviews and job applications to net a job usually. But now is the best time to be looking, retail and quick service will be hiring for the holidays.

    2. Manda*

      If you’re 17, I’m guessing you’re mostly applying at stores and restaurants. Those places are not going to care if you don’t send them a thank-you note. Unless it’s a management or office support position, I’d be surprised if anyone did in those industries.

      1. Pussyfooter*

        The one person I taught about thank you notes, who subsequently got the job, was applying at a restaurant! You never can tell.

  15. edj3*

    I’d wonder what other, unspoken and unknowable job requirements I’d run into at a place like that. I guess under required skills & abilities it should say “mind readers only.”

    1. Ruffingit*

      But as someone else pointed out in another thread, if you’re a mind reader, they don’t need to list it. You’d already know that’s what they want ;)

    2. Manda*

      OMG, I saw that the other day! I’m pretty sure it was a joke, but it said at the bottom of the ad, “Mind readers welcome.”

  16. Jubilance*

    How douchebaggy. To judge a candidate by such a random standard…forget if they can actually do the job or have the skills you’re looking for, all that matters is if they sent you a thank you note?

    What if it gets lost in the snail mail? What if the person mistyped an email address, or it got caught in your spam folder? Poor person is just out of luck huh?

    This is the kind of stuff that infuriates job seekers.

  17. Joey*

    That’s the hard part for a lot of people entering HR- falling into that trap. In other words going along with what a manager thinks she wants. Its your job as an HR person to question whether what the hiring process produces is best for the business regardless of what the manager wants. Sure, she may and should overrule you, but if she’s doing something counterproductive to the business’ needs you need to push back and question her processes and show her how she can improve the outcome. And if its serious enough (in this case i would argue it is) and she won’t listen those issues should be raised with your HR manager. Remember, you’re there for the business, not to act as a rubber stamp for hiring managers.

    1. Yup*

      Really well said.

      Every single manager in the world has a personal preference for how they’d like something done. If they can’t distinguish their individual preference regarding form from the actual business’s need for results, please save them from themselves.

  18. Anonymous*

    To be blunt, the hiring manager is an idiot, and the OP’s company is a horrible, horrible place to work.

  19. Mel*

    Hi! This is my original question. Just to clarify a few things…

    One, we don’t need a handwritten thank you note sent via snail mail. An email is fine.

    Two, this wasn’t a situation where we loved the candidate and would have offered him the job had he followed up. We were interested in bringing him back for a second interview, but we’re not moving him forward in the process since it’s now been two weeks with no follow up.

    Three, and most importantly, this isn’t arbitrary. An email follow up shows good business etiquette and acumen, shows the candidate is very interested, and indicates he’s done even the most cursory research on common job interview practices. Besides that, I send a follow up after lots of interactions: thanks for meeting for lunch, it was nice to run into you, thanks for the tip on that software you tried. It’s just the polite and professional thing to do.

    I wouldn’t say candidates need to kowtow, but I do expect someone to follow up and let me know that after coming in to learn more about the company and the open role, they are interested and want to move forward with the process.

    While we don’t specifically say, “Thanks for coming, make sure you send a follow up!” if someone asks what the next step is, our response is to say that they should think about all of the duties of the role, think about if it sounds like a good fit, and then follow up to let us know if so.

    I’m quite surprised by the comments here. Waiting for a follow up/thank you note or email has been standard practice everywhere I have worked.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      But it’s so (unfortunately) standard for companies to simply go to radio silence once they’re no longer interested in a candidate, that I can hardly blame a candidate who doesn’t hear from you, for not contacting you. How many times has this blog (correctly) advised candidates that tugging on the sleeve of the hiring manager when you haven’t heard anything is likely to annoy her?

      Although it’s pretty normal to send a “thank you for your time” email, I wouldn’t assume that a candidate who doesn’t is uninterested or somehow lacking in professional courtesy.

      1. Disrespected job applicant*


        OP I can support your practice of rejecting folks who don’t send thank you notes IF AND ONLY IF you can say your company promptly follows up with every candidate interviewed and doesn’t leave them hanging.

    2. Any Lynn*

      Just curious, OP – are you located in the South? I’m a Southerner born and raised, and we send thank you notes for everything!

      1. Another Anon*

        I’m a Southerner and I think this is ridiculous. Sending a note to indicate interest in the job? That’s what the application was for! Unless they withdraw their candidacy, of COURSE they’re interested.

        This just seems lazy to me. Making candidates contact you this much just to remain in the running, regardless of how well they interviewed or their skills…ugh. If the economy were better, people wouldn’t be able to get away with this kind of lazy and demanding behavior.

    3. KimmieSue*

      Hi there OP – Since you admit that you are new to the hiring world, I’d like to provide perspective. I’ve worked in recruiting (both corporate HR & agency) for over 25 years.
      Strong, qualified candidates are typically already employed. Our culture around job seeking teaches candidates to not be too over aggressive. The hiring process is a two-way street. The company is evaluating. The candidate is evaluating. The entire interview process (even for people that are not selected to receive a job offer) speaks to your company’s brand. You’d want every candidate interviewed to have a positive experience. All you have to do is check out or other social outlets to see the significant impact of a poor candidate experience.
      I’m not sure what your recruitment needs are at your company, but if they are more than a handful a year, I’d suggest that this archaic practice is going to severely limit your talent pipeline. It’s going to take you longer time to fill jobs. It’s going to cost more money in time and resources.
      I think we can all agree that thank you notes are nice to do, but seriously this expectation is insane.
      In the spirit of honesty, your response above comes off a bit defensive and I’m wondering if you really wanted the feedback at all?

      1. Sadsack*

        OP is new to hiring yet has some perspective that thank yous are the standard. I am still not clear on how that makes them mandatory, but anyway…I don’t think OP wanted advice about whether or not to reject the person, just how to reject the person properly. I don’t think there is a proper way to tell someone that there was an implied expectation that he did not meet. I think that tells him to be glad he didn’t get the job.

        1. Sadsack*

          Implied expectation was poor word choice, meant uncommunicated expectation. I am doubting that OPs company actually tells candidates that they should follow-up if interested. That doesn’t sound right; it is illogical and just seems untrue.

        2. Anonymous*

          He clearly dodged a bullet, especially if HR also expects for people stop what their doing and “let us know”.

    4. EJ*

      The way you’ve phrased this (“let us know”) puts the ball in the candidate’s court to get back to you. So as long as you stated this clearly, then perhaps you should have expected a follow up note. If there’s a chance that the message wasn’t clear, then it isn’t fair to reject the candidate on this basis alone.

      However, in every interview I’ve ever had or conducted, the ball is in the interviewer’s court to either move the candidate forward, reject them. Also the hiring is usually on the interviewing company’s timeline, not the interviewee. So leaving it up to the interviewee sounds weird to me.

      1. Erin*

        Agreed. In most cases, silence on the part of the candidate implies continued interest. When I’ve interviewed for a job and determined that it was not a good fit, I’ve followed up to withdraw from consideration.

        1. Chinook*

          I agree – as a candidate I would think it inappropriate and even obvious to let the interviewer know that I am still interested in the position after an interview. Sure, a thank you would be nice but silence doesn’t imply a lack of interest. If a candiate is no longer interested, then they should speak up but I would think that the fact that I applied and showed up for the interview should be proof enough of my interest.

          I am wondering if this a cultural difference thing. You sound like my late grandmother who would write thank you notes for everything and expected them from everyone in return. She once threated to no longer send birthday gifts if we didn’t write her thank you cards. We grandchildren honestly thought that phoning her when the gift was received or giving her a hug if she was in the room was good enough because that was okay with the other side of the family.

      2. EM*

        I agree as well. I once interviewed for an organization where the hiring manager would clearly let me know after each step (initial phone call, interview), that he expected the next step to be for ME to let HIM know I was still interested in the job and I would need to contact him.

        I thought it was completely bizarre.

    5. Yup*

      “While we don’t specifically say, “Thanks for coming, make sure you send a follow up!” if someone asks what the next step is, our response is to say that they should think about all of the duties of the role, think about if it sounds like a good fit, and then follow up to let us know if so.”

      This is a problem. Yes, it’s polite and professional for a candidate to send a follow-up email reiterating their interest. That’s why Allison recommends it. But it’s a distinguishing mark, not a mandatory step in the application process everywhere. A candidate who approached your company is understood to be interested in the job unless they explicitly state otherwise. They communicated their interest when they applied for the job, and when they came to the interview.

      If your company in particular wants people to email after the interview to maintain their place in the hiring queue, then you need to tell them that. Because in the two weeks that you’ve been waiting for this guy to email a follow-up, he’s been waiting to hear from you about whether he’s getting a second interview. No one wins in this scenario.

      1. JMegan*

        >>Because in the two weeks that you’ve been waiting for this guy to email a follow-up, he’s been waiting to hear from you about whether he’s getting a second interview. No one wins in this scenario.


      2. Kelly L.*

        Ah, but the LW would likely be unwilling to communicate this more clearly, because it’s meant as a trap. If it was communicated clearly, then everyone would do it, and it couldn’t be used to arbitrarily trim the list.

        1. Ann*

          Ugh, what a terrible way to run a business. How about everyone acts a little more open and honest about their business practices?

    6. Cake Wad*

      As you saw above, there are many reasons you wouldn’t have gotten a follow-up/thank-you message that have nothing to do with the candidate being impolite or disengaged. One of which is that there are career counselors and employers that do not recommend (or even recommend against) such a message. You’re punishing this candidate and others for how they may have been guided in the past.

      Your original question is how to decline someone for this reason. If you are intent on doing so and believe your reasons are fair and justifiable, despite all of the professionals that disagree, be straight about it. “Our policy is to reject candidates who do not follow up after their interviews with a thank-you message.”

    7. Sadsack*

      This seems confusing. If someone asks, then you tell him that you will wait to hear from him if he is still interested in the job? What if he doesn’t ask? What if he expects that you will contact him if you want to proceed with him, which is the norm as far as I’ve experienced. I have never had a prospective employer tell me to call again if I am still interested. The typical ending to an interview is that the employer tells me that he will be in contact with me if interested in talking further.

      I get what you are saying about it showing a lot about the candidate, as I always have sent thank-yous for interviews, but consider the possibility that he did send a thank you that got lost, how would you know? If you were ready to set him up for a second interview, why not do so and get to know him better as a candidate before rejecting him based on this one thing?

      1. Pussyfooter*

        “If someone asks”
        This creates an inconsistent policy. You inform people who happen to ask a particular question, but no one else?

    8. Anonymous*

      Please, **please** tell me the name of the company at which you work. I don’t want to ever make the mistake of sending my resume to a company steeped in such brash unprofessionalism.

      1. Anonymous Agreer*

        I wouldn’t even want to do business with a company like this (as a customer/client.) “Sorry, customer, you didn’t tell us you were appreciated us selling you that product or service, so we won’t be allowing you to do business with us again.”

    9. Kacie*

      I’m really surprised that you don’t expect the next step to be in your court as the employer. If you need to bring people back for second interviews, you should be deciding who you want to bring back among your candidates, on your schedule. It seems very odd to me that you expect the candidate to make the next move to show continued interest.

      1. Sadsack*

        I have a sneaking suspicion that OP only said that they tell the candidate to get in touch if still interested to somehow justify the rejection policy. It just doesn’t make any sense that an employer-candidate conversation would go that way.

      2. Pussyfooter*

        This. “On your schedule”
        If you didn’t tell him to write you, he thinks the ball is in your court. It is now your company’s automatic turn to respond. *If* he wants to do something optional while waiting the company’s response, that is separate.

    10. Joey*

      I bet you haven’t sat down and analyzed whether those that send thank yous are truly better performers, have you? Because if you truly believe that you’re drinking the kool aid.

      Just because that’s the way it was done in the past doesn’t make it right.

      1. Jane Doe*

        If the ones who send thank-yous are the only ones who get hired, they probably have no basis of comparison to analyze whether thank-yous and performance are related. Which then makes it even weirder that follow-up notes are so important.

        1. Joey*

          She said “the hiring manager for THIS role” which I’m assuming means there are other hiring managers. If it were me I’d compare the performance of this managers hires against everyone else’s and see if in fact the managers theory holds up.

      2. Mike C.*

        Well obviously thank-you note senders are better, they’re the only ones hired!

        Seriously, Joey is right. Where’s the data showing that this step is effective at finding good talent?

    11. Erin*

      I almost never send follow-up emails for any of the things you mention. In fact, I might find it a bit weird if someone did that. I send thank yous after I’ve been to someone’s house for dinner or a party, but I wouldn’t after just running into someone (unless we had discussed something and I said I’d follow up on it) or after having lunch (that would seem weird to me). I do send thank yous after interviews, but I had always figured it was something maybe 50% of candidates did.

      1. Anonymous*

        ^^I was thinking the same thing! I would find it odd – not unprofessional or expected – to get a “thank you” note after having lunch with someone or seeing them at a party. Didn’t I just you and you said the same thing????

    12. Brightwanderer*

      “we’re not moving him forward in the process since it’s now been two weeks with no follow up”

      But… this isn’t how job interviews work. Once the interview has been conducted, the next step is for the company to make a decision of some kind and contact the interviewee. It’s bizarre to expect your candidate to be the one to follow up before you take the next step.

    13. fposte*

      “Two, this wasn’t a situation where we loved the candidate and would have offered him the job had he followed up.” But from what you said initially, it wouldn’t matter if you did love the candidate; the HM policy is that they get cut for no followup no matter how they’re standing otherwise, and why would you be talking about blaming his rejection on the followup absence if that wasn’t the problem?

      I think using this as a candidate-killer is a way to duck the tough part of hiring, which is evaluating people’s strengths and weaknesses together. I mean, you *can* have a policy that applicants are immediately cut for a rejection of the serial comma or for using Times Roman when you’re a Calibri fan. But the goal of the process is to get you the candidate that suits you best, and I don’t think the correlation is anywhere near enough to make this the fatal hurdle your HM is using it as.

    14. Zahra*

      “Besides that, I send a follow up after lots of interactions: thanks for meeting for lunch, it was nice to run into you, thanks for the tip on that software you tried.”

      I’ll add my voice to the chorus: I rarely do that. I’ll call and say thank you, I’ll say it at the end of the event, but rarely will I send an email for all of those interactions.

      Unless the position requires a superior-than-usual etiquette practice or the environment is overly formal, your requirement is not aligned with the job (which should always be your primary criterion).

      If you don’t invite an interesting candidate back for a second interview because he/she didn’t send a thank-you, you’re cutting yourself off from a lot of good prospects and your hires will be of lower quality overall.

    15. BCW*

      I’d say its a nice to have practice, not necessarily standard practice. I’d be surprised if EVERY SINGLE person in every company you have worked for sent a thank you note. If you can come up with one example that it didn’t happen, then its not standard practice everywhere you have worked.

      Aside from that, I hope that since you have this illusion of what people need to do to confirm their interest (since apparently filling out an application and taking the time to come and and meet with you for x amount of hours isn’t enough) I hope that your company is doing the same in return for all candidates. Meaning within a couple weeks you respond to every resume you get telling them if you are or aren’t interested in going forward with the process. Also, the fact that you took whatever amount of time to write in, and wait for Alison to respond to your email, means that you are essentially stringing this person along when you already know you aren’t taking them.

      You sound way too defensive, and slightly arrogant. You are mad now because 99% of people on here think your practices are bad. Here’s a tip, when the response is overwhelmingly against this practice, maybe you should listen and take that into account instead of trying to find excuses for why its ok.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yes, this blog has a lot of different commentors with lots of different views. When they all agree,, it’s notable.

      2. Manda*

        I don’t think the sending of the notes was the standard practice she was referring to. She said, “Waiting for a follow up/thank you note or email has been standard practice everywhere I have worked.” The way I read that, her past employers have also refrained from moving forward until they heard back from candidates.

    16. Zahra*

      “While we don’t specifically say, “Thanks for coming, make sure you send a follow up!””

      Please do say so. Otherwise, it comes under the heading of “guessing what the other person wants to know”.

      If I heard something to the effect of “our response is to say that they should think about all of the duties of the role, think about if it sounds like a good fit, and then follow up to let us know if so.”, I’d still send a note only to decline (presuming I’m not in the habit of sending thank-you notes). “Thinking about the duties and if it sounds like a good fit” sounds (to me) more like “We want to know if you don’t want the position after thinking it through.”

      To cut it short, the default assumption should be that a candidate is interested unless they tell you otherwise. Especially under a timeframe of 2 weeks. If you wait 6 months to tell them about the next step, don’t be surprised to hear they’ve moved on. With all the companies going radio-silent instead of rejecting candidates, the default assumption is that positive answers will come between the interview day and 2 weeks after the timeframe the employer gave you.

    17. Jubilance*

      Still sounds douchebaggy to me. I’ve never sent a thank you note and I’m on my 3rd professional job. If I share in the interviews that I’m interested & enthusiastic about the role, why do I have to share that AGAIN in an email? Why do I have to thank you AGAIN after I thanked you at the end of the interview? It feels like an arbitrary hoop to have to jump through.

      And do you really send an email for EVERY single one of those things you mentioned – lunch, a suggestion, help on a project, etc? I simply don’t have time for that. I give a “thanks” or whatever feedback I have for the person at the moment of our interaction and then I’m done. I’m not going to circle back again and add an email to their email box when I’m sure they’re busy with work and other things.

    18. Jubilance*

      Also adding that I’ve both interviewed at and been an interviewer at a large corporation, and I’ve seen some companies who have policies where no one outside of HR (including the hiring manager) is allowed to give out their email addresses to candidates, to keep candidates from hounding people about jobs. Do those people get a pass?

    19. A Teacher*

      So if you run into someone, then eat lunch with them, and then they help you on a project and you sent an email after each one to “thank them” and they were all within a 48 hour time period or even a 2 week time period–you consider that normal? I’d consider it kind of stalkerish or odd but that’s me.

      I think you’re standards are way off. I send an email if someone goes above and beyond–especially if its a co-worker and I can pass on the positive praise to a boss–but for normal stuff like running into them or them doing their job a standard thanks is enough.

      You are expecting way to much when it is the employer that typically holds most of the power, as your company is showing with this passive-aggressive policy. If I knew who your company was, I would not apply there and I would probably tell those I know to avoid it too. Seriously, who needs passive-aggressiveness because someone can’t spell out a clear expectation.

    20. Adam V*

      > if someone asks what the next step is, our response is to say that they should think about all of the duties of the role, think about if it sounds like a good fit, and then follow up to let us know if so

      That doesn’t sound at all like what I’d expect the “next step” to be. I would expect the next step to be “we’re going to finish our interviews, pick the two or three we’d like to continue to talk to, and get in touch with them… preferably also letting everyone else know that they won’t be continuing on in the process”.

      Now, if someone has talked to you and decided “I have no interest in continuing in this process; I thought they were looking for someone to do X, but our discussion was all about doing Y”, then I would expect them to get back in touch with you and bow out of the process. But that’s the only case where I *expect* the candidate to take the next step.

      It’s quite interesting to me that this has been working for you all along. I would think you’d end up hiring “the top person who emphasized following a step-by-step routine when applying” each time, not “the absolute best person, regardless of whether they took the time to send a two-sentence thank-you”.

      1. Flynn*

        Yeah. The candidate is asking the company what *their* next step, is, for a timeline and so forth. That response is just turning around and telling the candidate what THEIR next step is, and not answering the question at all.

        The candidate already knows that they have to think about the job for themselves. Why would that be the logical next step for the *company* to wait on? The company would only be waiting on that decision if it actually makes an offer.

    21. Natalie*

      “Shows the candidate is very interested”

      If you’re doing this correctly, you already know the candidate is interested. They’ve written an engaging, custom cover letter and probably customized their résumé to your opening. They’ve prepared for and conducted a phone screen, possibly including taking time off work. And then they’ve done the same for an in person interview, including travel and most likely dressing a lot nicer than they do in a day to day basis. If they took time off for an I person interview it was probably at least a half day.

      It says a lot about your company that after all of this you don’t think the candidate is interested unless they send you a follow up note.

    22. Anonymously Anonymous*

      I’m sure this topic has been beat to death but it’s 10:29 and I just sat in a training for 3 hours—3 long hours and now I’m up. So here is my 2 cents…

      Does your company not understand the market out there now? Sending a followup email is nice and all but most goes unnoticed and unreplied to by most hr dept and hiring managers. Honestly I would only send a follow up letter only if I’m interested and felt I really wanted the job. So maybe ‘he just wasn’t that into you’…

      1. Anonymously Anonymous*

        so in that case I guess you can call it even…but as others have said then you risk missing out on great candidates who may not think it’s normal to follow up with a thank you note. I didn’t write thank you notes until after reading this blog. I’ve landed plenty of jobs without sending a thank you note.

    23. Kat*

      I’ve worked in two different countries where thank-you notes are never required or expected. It would be very unusual to see one. So you could be ruling out perfectly polite and professional people with overseas experience. In fact, if you follow up (in Australia or NZ), that could be a deal-breaker because a lot of companies would see this as a nuisance/pestering.

      If thank-you notes are the best way that you have to judge a persons professionalism, you could probably use the interview time more effectively.

    24. Manda*

      An email follow up shows good business etiquette and acumen, shows the candidate is very interested, and indicates he’s done even the most cursory research on common job interview practices.

      Ok, let’s look at this in terms of logic.
      A => B means that A implies B, but not necessarily that B implies A
      If A => B, then ~A =/=> ~B (not A does not imply not B, or in absence of A we know nothing about B)
      If A => B and B => A, then ~A => ~B and ~B => ~A, and we say A if and only if B and write this as A B

      Your argument:
      Sending a follow up email => The candidate is interested
      Not sending a follow up email => The candidate is not interested
      However, this is not an if and only if (that’s “iff,” to the math nerds) scenario. Not sending a follow up email actually does not imply that the candidate is not interested. It implies nothing. They may or may not still be interested and in many cases, they will be interested, even though they have not explicitly said so in a follow up email.

      1. Zahra*

        Oh yeah, the same assumption that makes brides crazy: no answer to an invite doesn’t mean anything. Some people think “Of course we’ll come and bride should (magically) know that!” Others think “Oh, we’re not coming, we don’t need to answer.”

  20. Windchime*

    There is a hiring manager at my place of business that believes he can make judgements about a candidates character by how they shake hands. Seriously. So if someone is nervous and has sweaty, shakey hands, that could be part of the decision. If the candidate has a condition that makes a firm handshake painful, that could be a part of the decision. Nothing can convince this person that the “handshake” test is a really, really poor indicator of what kind of employee someone would be! (I’m actually thankful when someone shakes my hand and doesn’t try to crush it in the process.)

    1. Sadsack*

      Somewhat related, I have shaken hands with people who had such a limp handshake, it actually made me feel creeped out. I have no clue why! I am a woman and am not impressed with too firm of a grip, but just having someone’s limp, practically lifeless hand in mine is creepy. Anyway, these were business introductions and not having anything to do with hiring. I’m just saying.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I totally know what you mean about the limp handshake. I hate when people shake like a dead fish. Makes me feel like they’re greeting me for afternoon tea and I should bring out the doilies.

      2. Emma*

        But our delicate ladyhands can’t handle anything more than the limp fish or the gentleman’s lobster claw, dontcha know? /facepalm.

        Shake my hand like you would anyone else, fellas! I promise you my t-rex hands can take it.

          1. Windchime*

            That’s how I feel, too! I hate it when someone does the Competitive Crushing Hand Grip on me. I don’t like the limp fish shake, but I don’t think I would reject a candidate for not bringing me to my knees with his manly grip.

            1. Pussyfooter*

              HAhahah! “bringing me to my knees with his manly grip.” heeheehee….

              For some reason I don’t receive the crushing grip or don’t notice it. But the I tend to get the dead fish from young people who are shy. (Always makes me want to mother hen them and show them how to do it right–but I keep my mouth shut.)

        1. Sadsack*

          But ah ha – one time it was a man and another time it was a woman! Maybe I am the one with too strong of a grip and never realized until now!

      3. Ariancita*

        I think a lot of times that’s cultural, where it would be rude to have a firm, sustained grip. I know that I’ve experienced the “mercury” handshake…not only is it limp and jellyfish like, but it seems to fall out of your grip and is hard to get a handle on. But in those cases, I felt like it was cultural. I used to be a firm hand shaker, now I just take my cue from the other person and mimic their style–anywhere from bone crushing to only grazing the others aura.

      4. Anon with a name*

        How do you know if you have a bad handshake though? I’ve always wondered that. We do judge others’ handshakes kind of instinctively/subconsciously if nothing else (though I don’t actually think it should be part of the criteria for hiring…). But other than having a friend who you think has a good handshake, shaking their hand, and then asking them how yours was…. How do you tell? I mean you can’t shake hands with yourself. I’ve always tried to have a good one, but never been sure if I did…

        1. TL*

          But how a good handshake should be (as explained to me): Firm; keep your hand non-malleable but don’t crush the other person’s hand – if you roll their knucklebones or leave marks on their hands, back off! On the other hand, if you feel like your hand is so limp that they are “controlling” the handshake, stiffen up a bit. Bring your clasped hands up and down once or twice – decisively but without enough force to feel anywhere near jolting. You want your muscles tense but not locked into place.

      5. Rana*

        In my limited experience, the people who do the limp handshake are those with arthritis or other painful condition. So that may be a consideration.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, this. A friend of mine told me that his dad dreaded shaking hands because of terrible arthritis. And for a couple of years, my son had a hand injury that made most handshakes very painful and he tried to avoid it at all costs. So it’s not always a matter of a person being a wet noodle if they don’t give you a firm handshake.

      6. Mary*

        That’s funny – I am female and hate to shake hands with petite females. In my experience, those are the ones who give the most bone-crushing handshakes. I am only 5’2″ – so not sure why I always seem to get those.

    2. Anonymously Anonymous*

      Handshakes! The limp lifeless one is the worst followed closely by the shaking the tips of the fingers (huh? what?). That one throws me for a loop.. I’m not sure if I should should cup their hand or force a real handshake. I definitely try not to offend a person’s handshake style..

    3. V*

      I have hyperhidrosis and sweat more than I should. Nerves or not… my hands are sweaty much more often than the average person. Before an interview, I’ll often carry a bottle of water to disguise it, but just because someone’s hands are sweaty, doesn’t necessarily indicate that they are nervous.

  21. Gilbey*

    So going by the hiring managers “logic” whomever writes a thank you will get a second interview and/or the job? With the the “thank you” as the more predominent reason for making the decision to move forward ? Who cares if they have the skills/personality etc needed?

    What if the ones that wrote the thank you are not in anyway a viable candidate?

    The interview is to look at people that initally look good from a resume and then go on from there. Not determine a good hire based on if a ” thank you” was sent.

    Like other posters are saying if there is a choice between 2 really good candidates yes, maybe the “thank you” or lack thereof will make that decision but to eliminate all candidates because they didn’t send one? Glad I am not working for him.

  22. Smunchy*

    I recently went through the hiring process (being the interviewer, not the interviewee) and received only a few thank-you notes. Receiving or not receiving one wasn’t a huge factor in the hiring decision – except for the one who misspelled the company name. Some were emailed, some were snail mailed. Looking back on it, getting them was an opportunity for me to evaluate the writing skills of the candidate.

    1. Joey*

      Eh, it normally doesn’t do much for me. But, maybe that’s because they’re usually so stiff, salesy, or feel forced.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Me too. They are always the same “Thank you for the opportunity to interview, I’m sure I’d do great at your company, can’t wait to hear back…” etc. I’m for thank you notes for gifts and such, but in some areas of life such as jobs, they feel forced and as though there’s no point.

  23. Meg*

    The “Let us know if you’re still interested” sounds like some staffing agency/recruiting company. As an IT contractor, I get COUNTLESS requests to “let [them] know if [I’m] still interested in a position” because it’s not about finding the BEST fit for the position/client, but rather building up a database of candidates (any candidate will do) or filling a position just to have it filled.

    But to do it based on “not sending a thank you note” after an interview? Absurd. Besides, even with a “let US know” basis, you’re usually hounding almost daily for an update whether you’re still interested or not (at least, I was).

    The norm is to contact your potential candidates for a second interview, not wait for them to contact you for one.

    1. Sadsack*

      I believe that the hiring manager has some preference for notes and that’s it. I do not believe that OP’s company’s hiring practices are to have the candidate be the one responsible for maintaining contact. It just doesn’t make sense at all. I think it is in the way that OP wrote her response that we are all thinking that is their practice. It was some sort of defense for expecting a note.

  24. Brton3*

    I recently read an interesting article about hiring practices, and it had a long and very contentious comment section. One thread that stuck with me was about sending thank-you notes. People have ALL KINDS of crazy ideas about sending thank you notes (or not sending them). It just reinforced for me that, as great and widely applicable as Alison’s advice is, there will always be people on both sides of the hiring process with weird hang-ups and nonsensical convictions about how to get or fill a job, most of which have nothing to do with the candidate’s qualifications or fit for the position.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    The hiring manager sounds like a total ass hat. I’ll be looking for a job shortly and it scares me to think that a manager would toss my resume into the circular file simply because I didn’t follow up (or he thought I didn’t follow up) after an interview. People DO get busy. Emails DO get sent to the spam folder. Mail DOES get lost sometimes.

  26. J*

    I am pro-thank you note. Here’s my take:

    1. You only have a finite amount of time with limited interactions to form an opinion of an applicant.
    2. I see a thank you note as the mark of a conscientious person (And yes, I realize that it is not the norm for interviewers to send thank you notes to applicants).
    3. All other things being equal I’d pick the applicant who had sent a thank you note over the one who did not.

    1. Rayner*

      But the point here is that the rest of it may not be equal, and the thank you note is the deciding factor.

      Personally, I think thank you notes are good only if the candidate is strong, and the note reflects that. It doesn’t advance a weak candidate beyond what I’ve already thought about them .

    2. Pussyfooter*

      I write them to put my best foot forward–conscientiously.

      Any one who’d downgrade me for being courteous or kind has something wrong with them.

  27. Anonymous*

    I would rather be wowed by your abilities than a thank you note any day. That thank you note isn’t going to be doing the work — you will.

  28. BCW*

    After reading these comments, I almost think its a risk either way. You don’t send one, you have morons who think you obviously can’t do the required job since you may have had other things like a family or other work obligations that took precedence over writing an email to basically say what you said in the interview. On the other hand you have people who will judge (and maybe reject you) if you do send one, but make a typo or your writing style isn’t to their liking (which in fairness if the job heavily revolves around writing I can see). If I remember correctly from another post, people would even think less of the applicant if it said “sent from my iphone”.

  29. RedStateBlues*

    On the subject of thank you notes, I’ve not been one to write them, but I am certainly willing to give it a shot next time. The issue is this, I’m pretty bad with names as I get a little anxious in interviews and generally nobody but maybe the HR rep will give me any contact information (i.e. business card) for future questions (Should I be reading something into that?) so how do I get names/contact info for other people that interview me? Should I just come out and ask or is there a more subtle way of doing this?

    1. Pussyfooter*

      Don’t be scared to ask them–and write down– in person, during your interview.
      If you need to get info as a follow up, just contact their office and explain that you’d like to send a follow up note and need the correct mailing (or emailing) address. You aren’t doing anything wrong; you don’t need to act behind the scenes.

      1. RedStateBlues*

        Right, thanks for confirming that. I tend to over think things sometimes, especially when I’m trying to make a good impression :)

  30. Pussyfooter*


    OP, if your company doesn’t want the guy, just send him a letter or email thanking him for his time and letting him know that you’ve decided not to move his candidacy forward.
    If not getting a thank you note is really a deciding factor, I hope you and that hiring manager will reconsider how you are prioritizing each candidate’s attributes. This is not even a universal standard, yet you are holding it against people? Unless they’re applying for the next job as “Miss Manners,” this is not likely to have any bearing on the job at hand.

    Other issues:
    What if the company’s timeline for moving forward was days, and the best candidates happened to send their thank you’s by snail mail?

    What if it *is* the regional norm to always send thank you notes, but the next Einstein of her industry just moved into town from somewhere else? Or maybe its her industry’s norm and the best person for an upcoming job happens to be transitioning from a different industry?

    What if the thank you arrived immediately after the interview? Some people have talked about how responding too quickly can give the impression of mechanical response, rather than authentic.

    If the candidate’s a bad fit, don’t commit….but don’t blame it on anything as irrelevant and petty as a lack of thank you note. ;’)

  31. Gilbey*

    “I wouldn’t say candidates need to kowtow, but I do expect someone to follow up and let me know that after coming in to learn more about the company and the open role, they are interested and want to move forward with the process.”

    So do you then follow up? Do they all make the first cut that sends a thank you? Or do you still make cuts regardless of their follow through?

    I was asked after an hour long interview if I wanted to proceed and I said yes. She obviously liked what she heard initially and wanted to get go further with me. That was her call, not mine. This was after a lengthy discussion of interviewing time frames, benefits, salary, hire date, training and a request for references. She pulled out an app and asked for a DL. (dumb move on my part to give it ). I sent the thank you that night.

    If she stuck to her hiring time frames I didn’t get the second interview let alone the job. OK that is fine.

    But if we are talking about me as the candidate looking like I am interested and making sure I follow up I did my job. I research the company and was prepared for the interview.

    The company didn’t do theirs. Right or wrong, in my mind she showed interest in the next level by in fact, asking me, if I wanted to pursue this and she didn’t follow up.

    OP, this stuff happens all the time. Both the candidate AND the companies are guilty of it. Some candidates do not write a thank you and some do. Some companies, you never hear from again after an interview (that I took vacation time for) and some you do. I have had bogus interviews that wasted my time. Don’t be so harsh so judge and determine a good candidate or bad based on a thank you.

  32. Anonymous*

    Mark and Mike from Manager Tools strongly recommend post-interview thank you notes. In one of their podcasts, they talk about how the interviewer is always looking for a reason to say no as they work their way through the resume/interview elimination process and not to give it to them by omitting a well-crafted thank you note reminding them of your strengths and suitability for the job. Think of it as one more opportunity to sell yourself as the #1 candidate.

  33. Emma*

    This reminds me of the tea/coffee/water debate we had in another post. We were talking about the importance of a candidate’s understanding of convention. The question here, it seems, is whether a thank-you note is conventional or not?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Yes, exactly. Thank you. This is just a difference of expectations. Not everyone knows that this is a thing.

    2. Meg*

      Except that the issue isn’t “Is sending a thank-you note conventional?” It’s more of a “Does sending a thank-you note weigh heavier than skills and experience?”

      The letter sounds likes the LW is saying “Even though we have the best candidate possible, she’s disqualified simply because she did not send a thank-you note. We decided to go with a less qualified candidate because she DID send a thank-you note.”

  34. Hugo*

    That’s corporate America for you today, folks. Even before you get an offer they’re trying to make you a slave and feel beholden to them. Commence the butt kissing before you’re hired!

    Not sure what size business it was but no matter, any private sector job is going to make you pull your hair out. I did it for seven years and got smart, went into public service for 40 hour weeks and benefits that even the largest of companies can’t match.

    Lol, not hire due to lack of a thank you note…what a joke.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      OK, this seems a little harsh. The hiring manager is new to this and perhaps thought this was just a standard part of the process. Let’s cut some slack, shall we?

      1. A Teacher*

        I agree it was harsh, but (yes the but) after reading everyone’s comments where most of us agree that it is a stupid practice–Mike C and Joey agree (not that it never happens, but you get my point) she got on here and was pretty defensive. All I can figure is she wanted confirmation that her way was right and when she didn’t get it, she got defensive and as another poster said a bit arrogant.

  35. Empy*

    I’m glad I’m not just crazy. I observed (not participated) a hiring process from the inside for the first time last month. They did a phone screen, the candidate didn’t send a thank you, and I quote “It’s too bad we have to reject her for this, she has the most relevant skills and experience of the resumes we’ve seen.” Being entry level, I just bit my tongue, but I was secretly horrified!

    To them, their reasoning is sound–development/fundraising work where building a relationship and following up is essential–but still, to outright reject someone because of no thank you after a phone screen? It definitely blew my mind, and not in a good way.

    1. The gold digger*

      Wait! How do you send a thank-you for a phone screen? The ones I’ve had recently have been arranged by phone and I don’t even have the recruiter’s last name, much less her email.

      1. jesicka309*

        I am really bad with names (especially over the phone – for some reason, I can never make out what they say, and it feels awfully rude to ask them to repeat their name straight away).
        I probably come away from phone screens with more idea about the role of the interviewer (HR, manager, assistant etc) than I do their first or last name.

    2. llamathatducks*

      Yeah, even in a position that requires things like thank-you notes, this isn’t some complicated skill that people either have or don’t have. It could be as simple as hiring her and just immediately giving her some feedback – “we noticed that during the hiring process, you didn’t send a thank you note. You should know that in the work you’ll be doing with us, it is essential to send that kind of follow-up note after any contact with [whoever she’ll be in contact with].”

      Noone’s a perfect match for any position, and when the discrepancy is something so easy to fix, it’s ridiculous to make it a total dealbreaker.

  36. Erin-Nicole*

    I was taught to always say thank you (Darn you, parents!), so sending a small thank you note is part of my nature. I try to send it within 24 hours. However, as an experiment I’ve tried writing my thank you notes in different ways. I’ve also not written thank you notes at all on occasion. None of my thank you notes have landed me a job, or excluded me from one, as far as I know. As a young professional with not much experience, I figured going that extra mile is a nice gesture that potentially might set me apart from a sea of candidates.

    Plus a lot of people believe the stereotype that my generation is ungrateful and ill-mannered, so I put on my fancy pants game on regardless of the company.

  37. jesicka309*

    Note to all hiring managers: if you want a candidate to write you a thank you note, make sure you have given them a way to do so.

    Often, I’ll apply through an online system. The interview will be organised via phone, which is generally made on a private number. I go to the interview, and leave. How I do write the thank you? Snail mail? I’m not sure I even have letter writing paper, let alone a mailing address. I might not even have the interviewer’s last name! Email? No one gave me a business card, or any contact details.

    At that point, I usually shrug and think ‘well, no thank you for them’. I hope that these clueless employers aren’t the same people who are demanding thank you letters (but have given out no contact details!)

    1. Lore*

      Yeah, I had an interview last year where I met with five or six different people. I’d corresponded by email with two of them before the interview, so they were easy to thank–but the company didn’t have a standard way of composing email addresses (of the two recruiters and two others I’d corresponded with, I think one was first initial.last name, one was first name.last initial, and two were first name.last name). They’d just moved offices, too, so no one had business cards (I asked). The recruiter said I could send notes to her and she’d forward them, but I have no idea if that ever happened.

  38. AdminTO*

    This is precisely why I’m afraid not to send a thank you letter. Even if HR doesn’t ask me to follow up I damn well will.

  39. Katie the Fed*

    I think there’s also a question of diversity, and I don’t mean racial/gender diversity. I mean diversity in terms of background and experience. Not everyone knows that this is something they should do. Some people are more “corporate” and polished than others. Personally, I think organizations benefit from a diversity of experiences and backgrounds, so I think a blanket policy like this could eliminate very good candidates with less polish.

    Also, is it me or do the comments seem a little hostile on this today?

    1. Windchime*

      I think that people are just frustrated with being expected to follow conventions that aren’t necessarily made clear. Some employers don’t like thank-you notes (or don’t care, like my employer. Are they nice? Sure. Required? Not even a little bit). Others will reject you outright if you don’t write one, or don’t get it in fast enough.

      With the job market being so tough, this is just seems like such a silly little thing to reject a good candidate over. We have a new hire that came on last week. We didn’t get a thank-you note from him, but we are sure happy to have him and it would have been a shame to reject him for something like that.

      1. LPBB*

        I’m coming in late to this, but I think commenters are reacting to the seemingly arbitrariness of the reason to reject the candidate.

        Thank you notes and follow ups are good idea in general practice, I don’t think anyone is disputing that. But in this case, it sounds as though the OP and the hiring manager are not going forward with this candidate because he did not affirmatively signal that he was still interested in proceeding. Plus, the only indication that he had that he should be doing so was an oblique statement that could easily be interpreted to mean, only contact us if you are no longer interested. Added to that, is the OP’s apparent obsessive need to thank others and her expectation that everyone else is like her.

        The job market is so tough now and, to job seekers, often seems so arbitrary and capricious, that I think when we read these examples of decisions seemingly made on expectations that are not properly communicated, people tend to take advantage of an opportunity to vent some frustration.

    2. Heather*

      Yes, exactly. What was the post with the discussion about blue collar vs. white collar upbringings? If you’re the first person in your family ever to apply for a white-collar job, you might have no idea there’s such a thing as an interview follow-up note.

    3. Bobby Digital*

      They don’t seem hostile to me. They just seem kinda grossed out and frustrated. I mean, Alison (correctly) called it “utterly ridiculous” in her response.

  40. Mel*

    What an interesting discussion! This was my question originally, and this has certainly opened my eyes to some new perspective. And nothing like some anonymous internet comments to boost your self esteem. :)

    A vast majority of the people I bring in follow up via email to say thank you and to reiterate their interest in the role, so it’s not usually something that comes up. We’re certainly not turning away people in droves over this. The next time someone doesn’t, well I’m sure this post will come to mind and I will think twice and discuss further with the hiring manager.

    It sounds like collectively we agree that sending a follow up or thank you note is a good thing and disagree on how much value should be placed on it. Thanks sincerely for the input.

    1. Pussyfooter*

      Wait! Mel!

      What region are you in?
      Is this an *industry* related standard?
      What do the other hiring managers in your company think of thank you notes?
      How do you know that the fact you sent thank you notes to your previous employers was part of why they hired you? (Maybe they were going to hire you anyway, and you just happened to be nice enough to send the note, too.)

      so many unanswered questions……… :/

    2. Brenda*

      Hi Mel,

      It seems to me that this is less about the follow-up note and more about being reactive vs. proactive in your approach to hiring. If you’re waiting for candidates to reiterate their interest, you are not going after the best ones proactively, but rather waiting for them to make the next move.

      I work in book publishing, and if I only waited for people to come to me with ideas for books, I wouldn’t be doing my job and I certainly wouldn’t get the best authors. I have to seek out and pursue the best people, because they are often very accomplished, very busy people. Meanwhile, the potential authors that I hear from the most, the ones who bug me day after day about the status of their proposals, are usually not the most desirable prospects.

      Hiring is another kind of talent acquisition, and it seems to me that the best recruiters/hiring managers would be willing to chase great candidates. You don’t want to end up with the most persistent — you want the best.

      Perhaps this is reiterating what others have said before, but thought I would offer my perspective anyway.

  41. wanderer*

    I have seen the opposite where a thank you note or email guaranteed a rejection letter when not sending one would have kept the candidate in the running.

    The interviewing and hiring process is becoming more needlessly complicated and depressing it seems…

    1. RedStateBlues*

      That’s the thing, it seems that many of people that complain about how much effort it takes to fill a position are the same one’s making it so needlessly difficult.

      Most candidates have at least one non arbitrary reason to reject them. Rejecting someone for such petty reasons is just lazy. MAYBE, if you are choosing between 2 equally qualified people, but I’d feel just as good about a coin flip if I were making that decision.

    2. fposte*

      On a hiring committee you were a part of? Did you push back? (Or was it a horrible followup note, in which case I think that’s fair?)

  42. MR*

    When you have situations like this, it drives home the theory (to me) that getting hired is more luck than skill.

    I’m sure this type of stuff goes on far more often than we realize. Especially once you stop and consider how much bad hiring advice is out there that people follow.

    When hiring decisions are made on factors that have nothing to do with the job, that is where the luck comes in and not the skill.

  43. Jen S. 2.0*

    Chiming in to agree with the majority. Notes are a positive thing in my opinion and I look favorably upon them. I can see how they would be a tiebreaker between two equally strong candidates or a +1 for an already strong candidate … but I am shocked to learn they are a dealbreaker or weed-out factor for some companies (or some insane individuals). It very, very, very definitely is standard for the ball to be in the interviewer’s court after an interview; expecting candidates to guess that your company expects the opposite is asking an awful lot.

    I personally ALWAYS write notes after interviews; I tend to err on the side of too formal in life in general, and I’m fine with that. My major error used to be snail-mailing them. During my last interview process I snail-mailed a note, and I kicked myself when I got an email from the interviewer long before the note would have gotten there. Ugh. Never again; e-mail from here on out. (I included another thank-you in my reply to his e-mail. I also got the job.)

    I also once became close friends with someone who hired me, and she showed me her written notes from our interview. To her notes she had stapled my thank-you card … which ALSO had her written notes on it.

  44. Meg*

    I’ve only written one Thank-You note in my career. I didn’t get the job (it was my first job interview in my field – it wasn’t because I sent it, but because I bombed the interview).

    Other than that, I’ve never written a thank-you note.. usually because I’d have a final interview Friday and an offer by Monday.

  45. Ed*

    I’ll never know for sure but I’m pretty sure I lost a job for the sole reason of not following up. Every phase of the interview process was a slam dunk but (I realized in hindsight) the manager really went out of his way to make sure I had his contact information, to the point it was a little odd. Oh well, live and learn. I still don’t follow up in general but I do pay more attention to cues from the hiring manager and might follow up if this same situation came up again.

  46. Msmoxie*

    Just curious as to popular opinion on thank you notes or emails for phone screenings and phone interviews (not the actual physical in person interview).
    I send them after in person interviews usually (can’t say they help or hurt….though i one received a comment indicating the handwritten thank you note was odd and unnecessary). I haven’t sent them after phone calls as I verbally thank them and reiterate my interest at end of call.

    1. Ruffingit*

      But you also reiterate your interest and thank people after in-person interviews as well (presumably). I’d say if you’re going to send them after in-person interviews, you should do so after phone interviews as well. The key in the phone interview though is to be sure you listen carefully when the person introduces themselves and write down their name immediately so you know who they are.

  47. Anonymous*

    I interviewed for a number of jobs last year during a brief job-search and the only job I bothered sending a thank you letter for was the job I got. It was a job in development. Thank you letters do make a difference in that field. Maybe not “all the difference”, but it’s noted and frowned upon when a candidate doesn’t send one.

  48. E*

    What is the efficacy of using the thank you letter to hire the most competent candidate? Also, what is there a significant correlation between writing a TY and personality or interest in the position? These are the questions hiring officials should be asking, and answering with scientific research. Otherwise, they risk implementing procedures that are based on personal bias, subjectivity, and downright quackery. Phrenology is the idea that the morphology of the cranium indicates personality traits. I am willing to bet the TY bias is just as irrational.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      People don’t generally use thank-you notes to make a hiring decision. Rather, thank-you notes can contribute to the broader overall picture of a candidate, and that broad picture is what comes into play.

  49. Kim*

    I couldn’t agree more! Thank you/follow up notes are courteous and serve to convey continued interest. However, the absence of one shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. As a recruiter, I am more interested in the candidates’ qualifications and interaction with me and potential colleagues during the interview. Putting so much weight on a thank you note could cause an employer to miss out on a great candidate.

  50. MaryL*

    Hi: I had an interview last week. I thought it went well. I forgot to ask the interviewers for their business cards during the interviews. However, I did contact the internal recruiter 2x after the interview to get their email addresses to send each one a thank you note ASAP. It’s a very large company; I only got their first names. It’s been a week; have not yet heard back from the recruiter. Wished I had gotten their cards; I really wanted to write the thank you notes. I guess it’s a moot point now. I guess my point is that people sometimes have good intentions to write thank yous but for whatever reason, they don’t get sent out.

  51. Just My two Cents*

    Talk about a double standard. The potential employee will not hire a candidate just because a thank you note was not sent. However, I am sure the same employer would most likely ignore the candidates that were inquiring about their status. Most employers make up their mind who they are going to hire as soon as they walk through the door. Then one is expected to send thank you notes and follow up on their status. Only to be ignored by the potential employer. I have received job offers with out sending the thank you note. And have been ignored after sending the thank you note and contacting the hiring manger on my status. I really do not think thank you notes really matter. However, it is good practice to send one anyway just to play the game.

  52. HearDad*

    This is a great topic and even better discussion. I think an important aspect that is being missed here is respect from both parties, the employer and the prospective employee. As I discussed in Interview Thank You Etiquette, it’s vital for prospective employees to display professionalism. On the same vein, I did not discuss how important it is for employers to do the same and be prompt with reviews and decisions, respecting the prospective employee as well. Thanks for the good article, Alison!

  53. Joe hult*

    Recently had my first interview in ten years. It was a bit brutal, and I would probably grade my effort a B. First thing, I was wearing a suit and tie, the interviewers were wearing polo shirts and black jeans. After a horrific game of answer 20 asinine questions, we did get to talk briefly about the job, and timelines, etc. However, with the total lack of professionalism on their side, I’m forgoing the follow up note. I spent time filling out their app, creating a cover letter and resume, purchased a $600 suit, took a day off work(6 figure job btw), and I also made it known I’m willing to bend over backwards for them. If something as silly as a kiss ass note eliminates my candidacy, so be it. I stopped doing thank you/follow up notes ten years ago after receiving a rejection letter 24 hours after an interview. Basically the company had to of mailed out the rejection letter before I had even left the building. I basically looked like a jack ass sending them a note, when they had no intention of hiring me.

    If a candidate has to contact you after an interview, make it clear, hand out cards. Don’t make people guess. Job seekers don’t have time, especially ones that are currently employed, to play these little mind games. I was once told something as pathetic as which direction you place a letter in an envelope, will result in an application hitting the trash can.

  54. Karen A.*

    Thank you note where you snail mail or email or both are a thing to do, it keeps your name and qualifications in front of the employer. Usually it is not the best candidate that gets hire it is the one who wants it the most. Play the game and hope it is your lucky day to win.

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