how can I send a thank-you note when I don’t know my interviewer’s contact info?

A reader writes:

I did a phone interview last Thursday and I wanted to follow up with a brief thank-you note, but I didn’t. All of the communication came from a recruiting coordinator, and I was not provided with any contact information for the two staff members I interviewed with except the date, time, and dial-in number. Should I have just sent the thank-you note to the recruiter? Could this impact whether or not I am contacted to come in for an in person interview?

It has been 8 years since I’ve searched for jobs and there used to be a person to contact to follow up on an application or position. Today, there is very rarely any contact information provided, except maybe an email address to submit your resume, or a recruiter handles the search. Do you have any tips for following up on application submissions when contact information is not provided?

Two options:

1. See if you can figure out the email addresses of the people you talk to. Many companies use a standard naming convention for all their email addresses that is easy to figure out. For instance, if you’ve seen that the hiring coordinator there is jsmith@teapots.com, then it’s easy to conclude that if the two people you spoke with were Fergus Popcorn and Lavinia Plufferton, their addresses are probably fpopcorn@teapots.com and lplufferton@teapots.com.

Of course, to do that requires that you have the full names of the people you spoke with. It’s entirely reasonable to ask when the interview is first set up who you’ll be speaking with or, failing that, at the start of the call saying, “Could I get your names?” if they don’t introduce themselves.

2. If that doesn’t work, it’s fine to just send your thank-you note to the person you are in contact with there. You can ask them to pass it along to the people you spoke with, explaining that you don’t have their contact info.

As for whether the lack of a thank-you is likely to impact whether you’re called in for an in-person interview: No, probably not. A thank-you note alone never makes or breaks things; it’s just a positive part of the overall package you’re presenting. It’s something that makes sense to do because it can create a positive impression when done well*, so it makes no sense not to (especially since it only takes a few minutes).  But you shouldn’t stress if you’re not able to.

* They need to be done well to be worth doing. That means something more than “Thank you for your time on our call on Tuesday. I appreciated the chance to talk with you about the teapot painter role. Sincerely, Gavin Mulberry.” More here.

{ 88 comments… read them below }

  1. PizzaSquared

    I’ve always found it a little bit creepy when a candidate somehow tracks down my email address and emails me. It doesn’t improve my impression of them in any way, and at least in my experience it seems to correlate with candidates who already didn’t quite get how to behave or communicate in a professional setting. Maybe I’m just unlucky, though.

    1. Jennifer

      I didn’t like having to do it, but it took me 24 hours after an interview last time to find one of my interviewer’s e-mail addresses because it would NOT come up on a search and I finally had to call HR.

      Not that it did me any good though.

      Also, spelling of names can be fun to figure out without visuals. Just saying.

    2. T

      I’m not sure why it bothers you or what about contacting you via your work email to say thanks for an interview seems unprofessional to you. Could you elaborate?

      1. PizzaSquared

        If I want someone to be able to contact me, I will give them my contact information. The fact that they weren’t given my contact information (and, as described below, it’s not public) should signal to them that I don’t wish for them to contact me directly.

        1. Shun

          Your comment doesn’t make sense if a candidate has taken the time to research and find your email address that should be a pro and not to con.

          This should let you know they are interested and they are going above and beyond to tell you thank you especially if your email address is not publicly listed or you did not give them your contact information.

          “Some people forget that at one point they were on the other side of the table”.

    3. TCO

      I’m not sure what’s creepy about a candidate you’ve already met contacting you through your professional (presumably somewhat public) e-mail address. It’s not like they hand-delivered their application to your home address.

      1. PizzaSquared

        My professional email is not public in any way. I don’t give out my business card to candidates, and I don’t show my email address on my LinkedIn profile. I work in high profile companies that a lot of people want to do business with and work for, and don’t want random customers contacting me for help, sales people pitching me, candidates trying to get a foot in the door, etc. I get enough of that stuff already. Most of these companies have policies about giving out other employees’ contact information without their consent (and even without such a policy, I think it’s poor form, unless it’s a truly public figure like a publicist or sales rep). So no, my email address is not out there. Someone would have to either guess it (which just seems weird, and trying too hard), or do some real digging to find it. Perhaps part of it for me is that in the places I work, that kind of confidentiality is part of the culture, and a candidate who would go out of their way to track down my info just to send me a thank-you is also demonstrating that they don’t understand that culture. It just feels tone deaf.

        1. local-area.company.com

          I agree with all of this. My name and email address aren’t anywhere on my company’s public website, and I have no business cards. I work for a local branch of a national company, so while the public site is “company.com”, my email address ends in “@local-area.company.com”. There’s no way to find this information without a LOT of digging. At best, that much digging comes off as trying too hard; at worst, it comes off as stalker-ish and threatening.

          Use the information if you have it, like if you have an email from the person interviewing you, you got a business card, or even if there’s an employee directory on the front page of the company’s main site– that’s just due diligence! If you have to do more digging than that, though… don’t do it!

          1. MamaM

            So in a day and age where people are DESPERATE for work you kick those who do the most work to THANK YOU for your time in the teeth? Nice. So you want the people who are lazy and wont go the extra mile AND you want to bitch that people don’t try hard enough. We are pretty much damned if we do and damned if we don’t thanks to people like you. If you don’t want candidates trying to get a foot in the door then maybe HR isn’t the right department for you.

        2. JM

          This is exactly how I feel. I’m on the other side of the table – I’m more likely to be an applicant in a situation where I’m interviewing with someone much more high profile, but I feel that if the person who interviewed me wanted me to have their contact information, they would give it to me. Hunting beyond the company’s website to try and find it seems like a form of low grade internet stalking (which, sure, people do in their job search, but you don’t really want to broadcast that you have.)

          I would e-mail the person I had initially been in contact with (recruiter, general info e-mail, whatever) with a thank you note and just ask them to pass it along.

        3. The Man

          Obviously we don’t want people trying to hard – I certainly don’t wish to employ anyone who actually gives a defecation about working for me and goes to such stupid lengths as putting effort in. It makes an interviewee look like they might end up trying to do background research to make themselves better at their job, and who one Earth would want to employ someone like that?

    4. Kellyjean

      One time a man I interviewed found me on Facebook and sent me a friend request along with a “thank you” message. Ha. Yeah no thanks.

      1. Stephanie

        Ha, I interviewed at Facebook and I don’t think even that would be appropriate there. (They were also somewhere where only the recruiter’s email was readily accessible.)

    5. MamaM

      So how are we supposed to stand out from a crowd if simply finding a way to contact you is creepy? She we start showing up to interviews in full formal attire? Would that appeal to your ego enough?

  2. RaneBoe Bright

    Note reg figuring out email addresses:

    – Some people go by a different name than their legal name. You spoke to Steve Clud but in HR/IT/Email he is really Steven M. Clud which would be steven.b.clud@xxx.com.

    – Then there are people who got married after they were hired. At my company our email aliases are not updated with our new surname. So Jennifer Wallace’s email may be JenniferTank@xxx.com

    1. HigherEd Admin

      Yep. Or they have a common first name/last name combo, so the person you want is MarkASmith[@]xyz.com but you end up emailing marksmith[a]xyz.com.

    2. Marzipan

      Yep. And beware situations where the company is big enough for there to be multiple Lavinia Pluffertons – maybe you’re emailing lplufferton when actually you saw l3plufferton or lqplufferton or whoever. (At my work the other Marzipan and I constantly get one another’s emails, including very confidential ones. Fortunately we’re both discreet!)

    3. Decimus

      I’ve always dreaded this and probably would go with the second option. I’m always afraid it will go “Hi, I’m Katherine McInnis and with me on the call are Tsuchida Gozen and Shivaji Bhonsle.” Then I spend the call thinking ‘Is that Katherine or Catherine? Is it McInnis or McGinnis?’ And I can’t exactly say “Uh, could you spell that?”

    4. BRR

      Also my company has a standard for the first but then it goes anywhere. I’m the second brr so they went first name last initial. My coworker is a john smith type name so he’s js6372727 because that’s how many there are.

      1. Karowen

        Yeah, my work does first initial/last name, but if you have the same as someone else they keep tacking on letters to the first initial. So John Smith may be jsmith, josmith, johsmith (or jonsmith, because you don’t know whether it’s a nickname or a full name), etc.

  3. YandO

    I always follow option 2 because i think it is weird to email someone without them directly providing you with their contact info. Also, trying to figure out emails via their system can lead to unfortunate results, cause I’ve seen this backfire when a person gets the email wrong (think name changes due to marriage, using nicknames, etc)

    I usually email the recruiter asking them to pass along my thanks. Has worked well for me. Also gives me a chance to re-connect with the recruiter too.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Also recruiters often don’t like it if you contact their client direct. Got that t-shirt! :)

  4. Traveler

    I’ve asked the recruiter or front desk person on my way out or by email later that day. Just a simple “Hello, (Thank you to them personally if they were involved) I would like to send a thank you note to John and Jane for their time today, would you be able to provide their email address? Thank you,”

    I’ve never had any problems with that so far.

    1. Christian Troy

      I’ve done this in the past as well, or I’ve asked for e-mail addresses from the recruiter.

    2. AMG

      I have done this, as well as researched and figured out the email addresses. I received positive feedback on having gone to the extra trouble to get the note over to the hiring manager, and ended up getting the job in both instances.

  5. Marcela

    A question from a foreign who is still learning the social rules for hiring: do I have to send thank you notes after the phone interview too?

    1. HigherEd Admin

      I usually do. Especially if that’s the only point of contact you have with that particular person.

  6. ThomasT

    While AAM has said that email thank you notes are acceptable, and perhaps even preferable for their immediacy, I don’t think there’s anything *wrong* with something sent through the post, especially in the absence of email information. If you’re applying to companies within commuting distance of your current location, the delivery time should be pretty prompt. Though probably not prompt enough today for an interview last Thursday.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        Really? I always thought a handwritten was more professional and I’ve been told they appreciate it when I’ve done this more than once

  7. Fuzzyfuzz

    This might be specific to the industry I’m in (fundraising/development), but I disagree that a thank you note won’t make or break a candidate. If choosing between two candidates with similar experience/standing, a thank you note signals a higher level of interest and engagement and points to how a candidate would treat donors and clients. It’s not to say I wouldn’t hire someone that didn’t send one, but I would look a bit askance.

    1. ThomasT

      But in the specific instance, where both this candidate (and presumably other candidates) a) weren’t given contact info, and b) are at the phone screen/interview stage, awaiting invitation to an in-person interview, it is “probably not” likely to be the determining factor for in-person interview selection.

      That said, if a thank-you note reveals written communication deficiencies that were not evidenced in the phone or in-person interview, or application materials, it can definitely be a ship-sinker.

    2. MsM

      +1. Depending on the position, you might also have to do a fair bit of tracking down other people’s email addresses or trying to figure out the organizational format or taking the initiative to ask other contacts, so it’s a good skill to practice.

    3. summercamper

      I agree! I actually just rejected a candidate because (among other things, but this was significant) the thank-you note she sent was pretty horrible.

      Now before anyone freaks out, understand the rest of the story – the position I’m hiring for is an entry-level fundraising job, and one of the chief parts of the job is to write handwritten thank-you notes to our donors and to lead an entire thank-you note writing campaign among the people we serve. So the ability to write a beautiful thank-you note is a key part of the job, and I felt justified in considering this a significant data point in the hiring decision.

  8. Karowen

    This is so timely for me! I just had to send my Thank Yous through the recruiter and thought it was super weird. Glad it’s apparently normal!

  9. IDGal

    I’m sorry but why aren’t you sending a hand written note?! Is this not a thing anymore? It should be and would likely make you stand out among those lazy individuals sending emails that may or may not make it into someone’s inbox.

    1. Fabulously Anonymous

      No, it’s not a thing anymore.

      Sorry, that was rather flip. I think it can vary depending on industry, but in industries where the majority of communication is done via e-mail or expediency is important, than a hand-written note can seem a bit out of touch.

    2. Fabulously Anonymous

      And there’s nothing lazy about sending an e-mail. It’s the way business is conducted these days.

    3. Kelly L.

      It’s very likely to not get there before the hiring decision is made. The email TY gets the message there faster, and then after you’ve sent the email TY, it would be weird to send a second TY, so just the email is more the thing now.

      1. Jen S. 2.0

        This. I once sent a written note, but got an email from the interviewer before the note would have gotten there. I ended up tacking thanks on to my reply, and it was awkward. I have emailed ever since just for expediency’s sake.

      2. Stranger than fiction

        I do both! And I’m Op’s case I’d definitely work through the recruiter

        1. IDGal

          I guess I relent to this option. I do live in the South and believe that the handwritten note is still appreciated. In the future an email AND hand written note will be sent. I would love to hear a hiring manager’s take on this.

    4. River

      Because it makes you look out of touch, no one with really good professional judgement is sending hand-written notes. Yes, you’d stand out – but not in a good way!

      If I got such a note, that candidate would lose a lot of credibility with me. I’d be worried about how else their understanding of professional norms might be lacking.

    5. PizzaSquared

      I said above that I thought people emailing me directly was creepy. A hand-written note might not be as creepy, but it would be way more out of touch. In my industry it would be on the same spectrum (though not as bad) as showing up at the office to drop off your resume. It’s just Not Done, and someone who doesn’t know that would make me question their judgement.

    6. Dani X

      In my company there is a good chance the note would never make it to the person. Mail goes in your mail folder. One day while waiting for a print out I decided to see what was in my mail folder. I found stuff from 2+ years ago – I am sure I am not the only person who doesn’t check it often.

    7. Parfait

      I haven’t sent a handwritten thank you after an interview since the year started with a one. This is business, and business is almost always conducted via email.

    8. Stephanie

      I think it would be tough, too, because mailing addresses aren’t always readily available. A big company or facility might have mailstops or something similar involved. I’ll also cop to not checking my work mailbox that often at past jobs.

  10. Marie

    You could call the recruiter and just ask.

    On one of my first interviews on my last job hunt, I was questioned by a panel. I wanted to send notes to each person, but to my horror…I had completely forgotten one person’s name! The time there had been short and nervewracking. I took a gamble and called the receptionist, introduced myself as one of the interviewees for X job from the day before, and asked if she could help me ensure I had the proper spellings for the last names so I could send a note. Luckily, the missing person’s name wasn’t Smith, and luckily, she gave me all of them without me having to list each off in my request. And she was very kind about it. Wanting to send a thank you isn’t a particularly devious thing to keep hidden, and even common names can have many deviations in spelling (what if my missing name was pronounced Smith, but actually spelled Smythe?).

    1. Bethy

      This happened to me last week–only I found the department’s website, wrote a note to Lizzie, but addressed it to “Elizabeth Bennet” and found out yesterday I very likely sent it to the wrong Elizabeth. Should have called. She was my favorite interviewer of the group, too.

      1. Kelly L.

        I once came within seconds of writing my TY email to a major pop star rather than my interviewer. I even had his card in front of me and the correct email in the To: box, so (a) no excuse and (b) it would have actually reached the interviewer rather than mercifully getting lost in cyberspace. Let’s say his name was Adam Levesque and my brain got stuck on Adam Levine. “Dear Mr. Levine, thank you for blah blah…”

  11. TheExchequer

    I will sometimes ask for a card or take a card (they often have them at the reception desk).

    I’ve got a question – I had an interview yesterday and am 95% certain that, unless they made a monetary offer I couldn’t refuse, it probably isn’t the right job for me. Do I still send a thank you note? What should it say?

    1. Helka

      It isn’t a bad idea to still send a thank-you — even if you don’t want the job, ideally you want to leave them with a good impression of you, since you never know when you might run into them again.

    2. HigherEd Admin

      I would still send a note. You want to still be professional and gracious. You never know when you might run across these people again.

    3. Jen S. 2.0

      I would absolutely still send a note. You don’t just stop doing the right thing because the circumstances weren’t 100% ideal. You never know when you might encounter these people again. You also said there ARE circumstances under which you might accept an offer.

      I’d say exactly what you’d say after any other interview.

  12. Addiez

    Funny, I have a slightly different impression that I think is worth sharing – I work in sales so it’s very important that people have follow through since they’ll be working with clients. If someone doesn’t send us a thank you, it’s a major red flag. If we have enough applications, we’ll drop that person from the running. If your best professional self can’t follow up, why would you be able to for standard client interactions?

  13. Spooky

    I’ve commented on this before, but it bears repeating here: in my industry and location (PR in NYC,) it ABSOLUTELY WILL make or break you. Not sending a thank-you note is seen as a sign that you’re either rude or uninterested, and I have seen many otherwise good candidates rejected for either not sending a note, or not sending one fast enough (same business day.) It’s very possible that this is true for other industries as well.

    1. Kelly L.

      Interesting! IIRC, Alison has previously recommended sending it the next day, so it looks more like you’ve had time to think about what was discussed in the interview.

      1. Spooky

        That makes far more sense to me – I think doing it on the same day is a little too aggressive, but candidates here really have been rejected based on not sending it on the same day (though they will sometimes extend that to 24 hours if they like you, but no more.) I don’t think it’s smart, but then I don’t make the rules.

  14. Stephanie

    Last interview I had, I was on a call with an HR person and two of my would-be managers. The HR specialist organized everything, so I only had her email. I just emailed and asked for the other two people’s emails and it wasn’t a big deal at all.

  15. Lunchy

    I recently had this problem. I was called by the “talent acquisition” representative for an insurance firm, but she was in an office on the other side of the country! She gave my info to a guy in the local office, who called me. The day of, he had to skip out due to some sort of emergency at his children’s school, so I was interviewed by someone different than the other candidates. So I was in contact with three people, and still didn’t have the info to send a thank you note. I honestly think that may have been a reason why I never heard back from them.

  16. Niki

    I have just flat out asked for the email address of the person I was speaking with. At the end when the thank you’s and hand shakes are going on (if in person that is). I just say “Do you mind giving me your email address? I don;t seem to have it” or I will ask for a business card which usually has it on there. No one has seemed to react oddly to it. I mean they should know I am probably asking so I can send them a thank you email, since it is the norm.

  17. Editrix

    I have always sent thank-you notes, even for jobs I knew I didn’t want after the interview. To me, it’s just about following up on the experience. When I can see myself in the position, I think of it like dating: If you go on a date and really enjoy it–awesome conversation, good chemistry–following up with a text like, “Hey, I had a great time tonight” is a good way to let that person know you’re interested. If he or she isn’t, that’s another story.

  18. Teapot

    I often wonder this when it’s hard to contact the recruiter/HR. For this reason, I have never thanked anyone during a phone screen interview. When you have a reliable contact though, you can ask politely if you can have your interviewers’ names and emails. You have to spell their names correctly, right? Then you can send the note to the recruiter/HR to pass it along, or if you’re given the interviewers’ emails, you can email them your thank you note directly.

  19. AnonyMiss

    I always send handwritten notes – hiring attorneys in law, especially in government law, tend to be old-fashioned, and they tend to greatly appreciate the personal touch of nice stationery and handwriting. I once got a huge pack of very simple, but classy thank-you cards at Target (IIRC, they were from Mara Mi, but their site no longer shows them – nice, cream cardstock, navy borders, with white/navy border envelopes), and I’m still using the same box. I usually use a nicer pen, preferably a fountain pen, and break out my best pensmanship. If I had multiple interviewers (most interviews I had were fairly large panels), I send each of them a note, personalized with whatever they focused on in the interview.

    As to the address and proper spelling of names – I always ask for business cards before I leave! (But then again, it’s mostly government I apply for, so I can usually just send it to the central address of the office.)

  20. KH

    Proceed when caution when ‘figuring out’ email addresses.
    1. I agree with others that it’s a little creepy when a candidate directly emails me. I prefer that they communicate with HR/recruiting, who can then pass along any communications.
    2. Very easy to send email to the wrong recipient when there might be someone with a similar name there. Information security and good judgement in this area is important in my line of work. For this reason I consider sending direct email when no contact details were provided to be a negative.

  21. Lux

    I recently applied to a local entertainment venue and received an e-mail from the manager. He said he’s review my application and contact me for an interview. and to not hesitate to ask should I have any questions. I honestly wasn’t expecting such a prompt response, let alone one personally sent out to me by the manager rather than using an automatic response system. While I hope to be contacted for an interview, I was wondering if it is appropriate to send a thank-you email in response out of courtesy before even having the interview itself? I don’t have any questions to ask as of yet, I’d rather save those for the actual interview, but so then is thanking a manager for his consideration before moving on to the next step a mature move or does that send out a red flag?

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