should you send job interview thank-you notes through email or postal mail?

A reader writes:

I have an interview next week for a position at a small company in the middle of relocating. The owner already moved to the area where I’m located and will be the one conducting the interview, and we’re meeting up at a coffee shop as they haven’t picked a location for the new office yet.

I’ve been told that a hand-written thank you note is the way to go after the interview, thanking them for their time, but obviously I can’t go asking after his home address, so I’m not sure if it’s feasible for me to do. I can either send a hand-written thanks to him to their original office where some of the staff are currently still working even though I know he’s not there, send a hand-written thanks to the woman who set up the interview (still at the original office) so at least *someone* gets a hand-written note, email the owner a thank you for his time (which feels so low-effort being an email), or some combination.

This is for a job I really, really want at a company I’m excited about so I want to do this right. Suggestions?

Email it to your interviewer.

Email is totally fine for interview thank-you notes — in fact, in most cases it’s better, which I’ll get to in a minute. But even if that weren’t true, it would still be fine to email it in a case like this where you don’t have a postal address for the person.

It’s not low-effort, because what matters is the content, not whether you walked outside to a mailbox to send it.

And most of the time, email is actually preferable these days. That’s because:

  • It gets there faster. If you stick a note in the the mail, the hiring decision may already be made by the time it arrives.
  • Even if it arrives reasonably quickly, it may sit unopened for weeks. These days, because so much more business is done by email than postal mail, many people don’t check their physical work mailboxes that frequently.
  • It’s business correspondence, not social correspondence. People who send thank-you’s by mail usually handwrite them … which you really don’t need to do for business correspondence. There are still people who like receiving handwritten thank-you notes from job candidates, but I think they’re quickly becoming the minority.

One last thing: Make sure that your thank-you note isn’t really about thanking them for their time. The term “thank-you note” is misleading here, because what you really want to do is to build on the conversation that you had in the interview and reiterate that you’re excited about the job. Thanks doesn’t even need to be part of it (after all, they weren’t doing you a favor by interviewing you any more than you were doing them a favor by talking to them).

{ 101 comments… read them below }

  1. NonProfit Nancy

    Agree! Someone did this after our last job interview (mailed actual thank you notes in an envelope) and although we appreciated that it was a nice gesture, it just seemed … out of touch. It was not just old-fashioned, it was – inefficient, I guess? There was a faster, cheaper and easier-for-all alternative available. I don’t think it gave the impression she was hoping for.

    I think it’s confusing that a lot of career advice does still mention “thank you notes,” which does make me think they mean an actual mailed note rather than an email, whose subject is thank you rather than followup. We should weed that out of common instructions.

    1. misplacedmidwesterner

      Right now (when I get thank you notes), I get about 90% email thank you notes, and 10% paper notes. Quite often the paper note arrives (as Alison said) after I’ve made my decision.

      Of course most of the notes are just thank you notes, I always really appreciate the ones with actual follow up information.

    2. Juniper Green

      I think the one exception where you probably should include a snail-mail note is when you’re interviewing for a gig where hand-written notes are a part of the job – fundraising, for example.

      1. YankeeNonprofitChick

        Yes! I am a fundraiser and I do both email and handwritten thank you notes. Although I haven’t interviewed for over three years. I just wish my handwriting were nicer.

        1. Emi.

          I recommend Fred Eager’s The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting! I used his Italic Handwriting for Young People (after learning to write with Getty & Dubay, rebelling, and then regretting it), and it helped a lot. Also using a pen that doesn’t require lots of pressure. :)

          1. Juniper Green

            My handwriting is also atrocious and my attempts to clean it up have been sporadic… whenever I *must* write for work I just write painfully slowly and have lots of extra paper on hand. Thanks for the tip!

            1. Lablizard

              I have had Arabic readers try to translate my handwriting and have had to explain to them that it is illegible English cursive

    3. Epsilon Delta

      I saw a resume kit at the store yesterday. Included were resume paper, envelopes, and thank you note cards.

      1. k

        I’m surprised stores still sell things like this. I actually have never in my life had a need to print a resume on actual paper (I’m 30). Every job I’ve applied to requested online form applications or email. I still print out extra copies to bring to interviews, but have never needed them.

        1. turquoisecow

          Same! I’m 35, and the times that I’ve brought along a paper copy of my resume to interviews, I didn’t actually need to give it to anyone. The person I was interviewing with had a copy of it that he/she referenced during the conversation, and that was it. And neither my copy nor theirs were printed on special paper.

        2. Lisander

          This is very true. Printing a cv is not needed, but it would be nice to have a hardcopy. I scored some points in an interview, when two interviewers came and they only had 1 printed copy of my cv. I just pulled an extra one out.

  2. anomnittynom

    I’m really surprised Alison still answers this question. We seem to get some version of this posted at least every three months.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Every year or so, which seems reasonable to me. Most people don’t read the entire archives, and it’s a question that a lot of people continue to wonder about.

      1. Letter Writer

        I appreciate it, I had been going through the archives with the “interviewing” tag and hadn’t stumbled across this particular issue. Thanks again!

    2. Joseph

      In fairness, there’s a LOT of outdated advice out there about how handwritten notes are superior to email. It’s been maybe 15 years or so since email became the widespread standard in most US offices and a lot of people giving advice on how to get jobs (particularly parents or older family members) aren’t yet fully caught up to the new paradigm.
      Besides, if it’s really so prevalent that people are asking about it every three months (or six months or year), clearly it *isn’t* common knowledge yet.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        They’re asking about it a lot more often than that! I’m just writing about it roughly ever year or so. (If I wrote about things as frequently as they come up in the questions people send in, 90% of the posts here would be about how to follow up after an interview.)

        1. College Career Counselor

          I strongly agree with Alison that for the purposes of following up/continuing the conversation after an interview, email is definitely the way to go. Your response can be easily forwarded to other stakeholders in the search process, it’s much faster, and if your content is appropriate (not just “thanks for your time/consideration”), it’s just better to get that in front of the hiring manager before the decision is made. Plus, my penmanship skills arrested somewhere around the fifth grade, so a hand-written note is going to look sloppier and less professional than I want no matter how hard I try.

          On a related note, I have seen a bit of a trend in some industries (mostly investment banking/finance, actually) to say that for networking purposes, they think more of a hand-written note than they do of an emailed one. Granted, this is for people who claim to get 300 emails/day, and they say that a hand-written note (sent to their office) makes them stop and consider more than an email does.

  3. E*

    “what you really want to do is to build on the conversation that you had in the interview and reiterate that you’re excited about the job” –> +1,000,000

    Here’s my anecdatum: during a hunt for a teapot research assistant, we were wavering over one candidate who seemed good, but we weren’t sure how interested she would really be. The job has a high turnover rate, so it was a concern. But in her thank-you note, she indicated that she had done some follow-up on our conversation about the types of teapots we research and expressed her interest in continuing in that direction. It was a short note, but showed some dedication right off the bat. We hired her and a year later she is still the BEST teapot research assistant ever. So it matters.

    1. Sled dog mama

      Yeah, in my recent job search I’m not sure my thank you emails actually had the words thank you in them. I said how much more excited about the position I was after meeting everyone and retouched on some ways I was a good fit for the position as discussed during the interview. Clearly conveying I was very interested and Thankful they interviewed me but

  4. Manager Shmanager

    For me, a thank-you is a nice gesture, but it’s not going to sway me one way or another. Usually the hiring decision is made well before the thank you note is received. If you do wish to send one, I personally prefer receiving one by email because it is faster and that’s how most business correspondence is happening today. Traditional mail takes longer and feels overly formal.

    There’s one exception that comes to mind: informational interviews. I think the key there is that there is no hiring timeline and I have chosen to take time out of my schedule as a favor to them or to a friend. In that case, I think a hand-written note is nice and shows the right level of gratitude for the personal favor.

    1. Bonky

      True – a good one can really cement a good interview process, though. Absent a great interview, I agree that they’re not really going to sway me, but on top of one, an excellent thank-you follow-up email can be impressive. (Especially given how very few people bother to send them.)

      There are degrees, of course. Some people will send a nice thanks, but with no additional content; that’s nice, but won’t really make much difference. The ones I really appreciate (I got one today, and it made me warm even more towards an excellent candidate) are the ones which present additional information that has come out of the interview, showing that the candidate’s been thinking about what we discussed. It helps, of course, if what they’ve been thinking is sensible and smart!

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      This is true. Another caveat is that some jobs within subfields have a norm in which people send email and hand-written thank you notes (I’m thinking specifically of judicial clerkships, where there are a lot of older judges who don’t use their email and rely on their staff to respond on their behalf—younger judges seem to prefer and appreciate email thank you notes). For that specific subset, the format for the thank you depends on the judge’s communication preferences/style.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This is changing, too, as so much court information is sent by email. Even the most stagnant judges will have to learn to open their email. CE courses and various meetings are online also.
        I can foresee a wave of retirements as those judges who can’t/won’t use email will have to retire because they are no longer connected to the flow of information in their system.

    3. Kyrielle

      I pretty much used a thank-you email as vehicle to convey that after the interview, I really was still interested in the position. I was hopping industries and techniques, but not overall skill-sets, and wanted to convey that yes, I knew what I was getting in to and was excited. Whether it helped or not, I don’t know, but I got the job. (And am still glad to be here, yes.)

    4. Lurker

      If someone is interviewing for a fundraising/development job and we don’t receive a follow-up thank you (via email or handwritten), I definitely make a mental note of it. It’s such an important part of donor relations that if someone doesn’t do it, it makes me question their understanding of the field — particularly if it’s a higher level position.

    5. KarenT

      I don’t feel swayed by thank you notes either, but sometimes after a really strong interview receiving a good follow up note helps me feel that much more sure (it almost goes back to that analogy of job searching being like dating. Like the candidate likes you back or something.). They also seem to be one of those things that good candidates always do. Looking at my most recent hires, they all sent follow up notes, but it has almost nothing to do with why I hired them.

  5. 42

    FYI Alison: The article linked within yours in your US News and World Report post (today’s earlier AAM post) is titled “8 Tacky Job Search Faux Pas”; and one pieces of advice given is ‘not to send goodies to your prospective team’ but instead, to ‘send hand written thank-yous to each person you met.’

    No wonder people are confused.

    1. Jaguar

      That Alison is probably frustrated that a related article on the site is advising against hand written notes.

    2. ChelseaNH

      Interesting. I sent handwritten notes to one company, and it wasn’t until after I was hired that someone visited his mailbox and found one. On the other hand, I interviewed at a company where they sent emails, and the operations team got literally thousands of emails a day. Since I was feeling a little “grr, I WANT this job” and didn’t want to get lost in the flood of mail, I hunted up Edible Arrangements and sent the smallest fruit arrangement to the hiring manager. Being a novelty worked out for me that time.

      BTW: my email account was created a week before I started, and I arrived to find 70,000 emails. One of the first onboarding sessions was on setting up Outlook rules.

  6. Bonky

    I was sent a really great post-interview thank you/extra info email this afternoon, a couple of hours after I interviewed a lady with an absolutely kick-ass cover letter (she must have sent the email as soon as she got home). I’d almost suspect she reads AAM – it was a really unusually terrific interview experience all round, and really quite out of the norm!

    1. Bonky

      Probably more helpful if I add what made the thank-you mail great: as well as saying thanks, she mentioned some extra context that she felt she wished she’d mentioned in the interview, which I really appreciated (I absolutely don’t hold not remembering to say something in the interview against people; it’s such a high-stress environment). She had some suggestions about markets she is very familiar with for one of our publications. And she was polite, friendly, and grammatical – and will stick in my head as a result.

      1. Letter Writer

        I will keep this all in mind when I write my thank you email :) I have notes of what all I want to cover during the interview, but this is a good idea in case I forget something.

  7. De Minimis

    My employer’s mail goes through a university, and the mail delivery in our city has been slow in general. Between those two things mail can be significantly delayed. E-mail is way better.

  8. Murphy

    And with email, there is the added benefit that they can easily respond right away.

    I sent a thank-you email first thing Monday morning after a Friday afternoon interview, and within minutes got a response that I was the top candidate and would I please fill out this background check form so we can make you an offer, which was fantastic.

    1. Jen S. 2.0

      Agree. Although I ended up getting the position, in one instance about which I’m still kicking myself, I had an internal interview, and I wavered about sending a follow-up email versus a note. I sent a follow-up note by inter-office mail. I got back to my desk at 2, and the interviewer emailed me at 530. MAN, I wish I had emailed.

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        Sometimes even most emails can take too long. At one company we did interview assessments/decisions within an hour of the last interview. The idea was to make sure everyone had a fresh view of the candidate, but it meant that almost every thank you note was sent after the decision was made.

  9. SJ

    On a related note (get it? ba dum tssh) — I wasn’t sure what to do in this situation last year:

    I had a full day of interviews for a position (from 9am to about 4pm) with all the VPs on a committee that reported to my would-be boss. They all worked in different departments and managed different things. I met maybe 20 people over the course of the day. However, some of them were individual interviews and some of them were group interviews with anywhere from 2 to 4 people. I had prepared extensively for the interviews by researching each department and forming specific questions for each VP, while keeping a few general questions about the committee all the VPs were part of that I could ask in each interview.

    Thanks to AAM, I already knew how to write awesome follow-up emails, but I wasn’t sure if I needed to write a personalized note to each VP in my group interviews or if I could write one note per interview block and send the same thing to all of the VPs in that particular interview. I ended up with a basic copy-paste template but personalized each person’s note with a sentence or two about what we’d discussed regarding his/her specific department. I was satisfied with the notes in the end, but personalizing 20 emails took a long time, especially when I was brain-dead after a day of interviews. If I’m ever in this situation in the future, is it okay to send the same note to each person in a particular group interview (sending them one at a time)? I would have only maybe had 8 different emails to write in that case.

    1. SJ

      Oops, posted too soon!

      The logical side of me said that the people in each particular interview probably wouldn’t compare follow-up notes they received from me, but then the paranoid side of me thought, “oh God, what if they compare follow-up notes and they see I sent the same thing to each of them??”

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I wouldn’t send identical notes to people. Some people forward thank-you notes they receive from candidates to other interviewers (sort of “here’s part of her application materials to add to what we have on her”) and it’ll make all the notes look like a form email.

        1. Emi.

          I wish I’d known this! I spent a lot of time trying to make five different emails sound unique. :(

      1. Lily Rowan

        I recently got a new job, and my thank-you notes (after meeting with a whole slate of people) were so perfunctory! But they were there! And I certainly included a specific follow-up note if I had one, but I really didn’t have anything specific to say to everyone.

        After doing a bunch of hiring over the last couple of years, I think sending a note at all is a +1, since not sending anything seems to have become the standard.

      2. No longer disillusioned

        I agree one-hundred percent; I’m positive that all of the people with whom I interviewed circulated my thank-you notes, including the recruiter. I took the time to make each one unique and, in particular, to mention something specific from my conversations with each person so that they knew I made that effort/recalled details of our conversations.

        I got the job AND negotiated a salary that was much higher than what I was initially offered and expected to receive.

  10. Lemon Zinger

    I cannot even imagine what would happen if someone sent a thank-you note through the mail to my department! We receive thousands of pieces of mail every day. A handwritten note would honestly show how out-of-touch an applicant was.

    When interviewing for my job, I wanted to send a thank-you email, having just discovered AAM. Unfortunately the only person I communicated with through the whole process was a secretary, and I was not given the contact information for the hiring manager. Later I learned that this is departmental policy, which made me feel better about not sending anything.

  11. AthenaC

    Sure, you want to use the thank-you note to build upon your earlier conversation, but “Thank you for your time” is still a great way to start. I’ve received these before, and yes I know it was my job to interview you and I didn’t really have a choice, but I still appreciate being thanked. I put it in the category of social nicety that we just do.

  12. Emi.

    Oops. I did both–the email within a day or two, and the handwritten one after a couple days’ agonizing over stationary.

      1. YankeeNonprofitChick

        As I mentioned earlier, I do both because I am a fundraiser and handwritten thank yous are part of the work we do. When I do I will use some type of special postcard or card that relates to the person I interviewed with specifically. For example, if the person I interviewed with was a history buff, I’d use a vintage postcard of a city landmark. If they were an animal lover, I’d use a card with artwork by a wildlife painter. This might seem like overkill but in my experience it’s appreciated by interviewers as well as donors.

  13. Mazzy

    Funny because when I interview u always think I need to send snail mail. But when I hire I am totally ok with email. So I guess 2017 is the year to finally admit that email is ok for this!

  14. ginger ale for all

    I work in a university library and when someone interviews from another library department to our department, a hand written thank you note is often written and then posted on our bulletin board so the whole office can see. I don’t recall a thank you e-mail being printed out and hung or forwarded to us so this might be a know your environment kind of thing. We might be one of the few exceptions to the rule. They are never mailed through the post office though, just sent through our interoffice mail system or dropped off. I think it is done this way because candidates have a meet and greet question session with our whole office in addition to other interviews and presentations. If they had to thank each of us individually, it would get to be too much.

  15. AndersonDarling

    I used to think a hand written thank you was the way to go, but the last time I interviewed was 8 years ago. Even though email was the main business communication, all recruiting communications were still over the phone. Now recruiters use email to set up interviews and ask screening questions, so it is natural to send a thank you through the same form.

    1. Letter Writer

      We did set up the interview via email, so it does make sense to follow up that way, as well!

  16. Grr

    And the one thing you REALLY don’t want to do is follow that advice that was being bandied about some years ago, which was to either A) Write the thank-you note ahead of time, bring it to the interview, and hand it to the receptionist to give to the hiring manager immediately after the interview, or B) park yourself in the waiting area and write the note there, right after the interview. Both are way out of touch and give off a very weird vibe.

      1. Grr

        Well, that was advice being handed out in the early 00’s, so quite a while ago now. I believe its reasoning was twofold: one, to get your thanks to the manager quickly without the time lag of snail mail, so you look like a real go-getter; and two, to avoid the perceived informality of email. But online communication has come a long way since then.

  17. Whipsnap

    So what happens if you are interviewing for a retail job where you filled out an application by hand and there’s no email for the manager you interviewed with? The last retail job I had, I brought along a note card and an envelope, and after the interview, I went for a walk and a couple hours later, I returned to the store with the card written out and asked that it be given to the manager I interviewed with. The next day I got a call offering me the job and the manager said that the card had made his day.

    1. kc89

      My first job was in retail and they had a terrible website system where you could schedule your own interview and then when you show up at HR they look at you blankly because they have no idea who you are and that you scheduled an interview. One lady was nice enough to speak to me for about five minutes so I sent her a thank you card through the mail and a couple of days later got a phone call for an interview and after being hired and working for a couple of weeks my co-workers told me that my boss wouldn’t stop talking about the thank you note and that she had basically decided to hire me even before I had my interview (my boss was someone different than the person I sent the thank you note to, she just told my boss about it). Obviously this was a one off and not something I would normally do but it did help me get my first job haha.

      1. Bye Academia

        Ugh that happened to me too. I was confused, HR was confused, everybody was confused. Why would they set up a system like that?? They pulled the manager off the floor and she made time to interview me for real, though. She offered me the job on the spot at the end of our 15-20 minute chat, so I never had a chance to send a thank-you. Retail.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I think retail is one of those arenas where people are less apt to look for thank you/follow up notes.
      This could be different for management positions.
      My guess would be if you do not have an email for the person, then I would be less inclined to worry about it.

  18. Erin

    I used to be all about the hand written thank you, and still use it in non-proffessional situations, but yeah. Time is the big factor here.

    While the interview process does tend to take longer than employers plan to, you never know. They might meet another fantastic candidate or two or three in the few days it takes for your thank you to get there. Better to immediately reinforce your interest in the position.

    1. Letter Writer

      “I used to be all about the hand written thank you, and still use it in non-proffessional situations, but yeah. Time is the big factor here.”

      I think that’s where I was getting hung up – I still send my “thank yous” via snail mail for Christmas and birthday gifts.

  19. The Anonymous One

    I once had a candidate conclude the interview by handing me a pre-written thank you note.

    1. Ayla K

      That’s awful! It completely removes the REAL purpose of the thank you note – to follow up on the conversation and reinforce your interest, as Alison pointed out.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      As was noted upthread, this was a weird piece of job hunting advice that’s unfortunately still making the rounds. I had a candidate do that, and I found it completely disingenuous, whereas a brief email or a card that arrived even the next day would, at worst, have been neutral.

      I’m sorry you had to experience that :(

  20. No longer disillusioned

    I was unceremoniously laid off almost a year ago by a law firm after suffering a serious illness (that debacle was the subject of a previous AAM post–I wrote under the name “Disillusioned” previously), and I just wanted to comment on this post to say that I’ve finally secured what I believe will be the job of my dreams. In no small part I attribute this to my faithful reading of AAM and utilization of the advice here, as well as my use of Alison’s advice relating to thank-you notes.

    Of particular relevance to this post, after a long period of not sending thank-you notes, due to my belief that lawyers find them disingenuous (and that was primarily with whom I was interviewing), I sent four after my last interview–one to each person who interviewed me, as well as one to the recruiter. The recruiter was so pleasantly surprised, apparently, that she sent me a thank-you note for my thank-you note!!! I also landed the job (after being unsure due to how many candidates I believe were being considered), and I got a very large increase in compensation due to a counteroffer by me, which was accepted without further negotiation from the company!

    So, all of this to say: (1) write your thank-you notes, and make them unique and sincere for each person with whom you have significant contact; (2) don’t give up on the job search–it took me almost a year, but I’m finally OUT of litigation (thank goodness) and into a job I want; and (3) keep reading AAM. The advice and the posters’ support really, really helps.

    1. No longer disillusioned

      And I realize I made a few grammatical blunders in the above post in my excitement to comment (I just got confirmation of clearing the background check, etc. today), so my apologies. Wish I could edit my previous post!

  21. No longer disillusioned

    Thanks, Alison! I tell people about your website all of the time. It really is a great service that you’re providing.

  22. Kathleen Adams

    I agree email is better, but I’d estimate that about 40-50 percent of the thank-yous I receive are hand-written and sent through the U.S. post.

    Which seems very weird to me. I have to assume that advice to “Send a hand-written note” must still be pretty common.

  23. Chaordic One

    The only caveat I have is that I’ve had a couple of interviews where I couldn’t find out the interviewers email addresses. I asked for business cards and was told they didn’t have any. I felt uncomfortable asking them for their email addresses outright.

    I looked all over the company website and couldn’t find anything helpful. (If there had been a listing with any person’s email I would have tried to adopt the format to the name of the people who interviewed me and there would have been a fair chance that they might have gone through.) Maybe I should have attempted something through LinkedIn?

    With reluctance I sent hand-written thank-you notes by snail mail. I don’t know if it helped or not.

  24. Come Along Ponds

    Unless you’re in England. Do not send thank you emails after an interview in England. They are not a thing here.

    1. Rebeck

      Does anyone know if they’re a thing in Australia? I can’t bring myself to write post-interview notes, it seems too try-hard to me: and also might be seen as trying to get around the interview process. (Local govt, but now applying to university admin roles).

      1. ZucchiniBikini

        As a former university admin worker in Australia (now consultant, with universities as my biggest clients) I would say thank you notes after interviews do look weird in this context. I’ve been on many a hiring panel and certainly hand-written notes would be out of kilter. I have once or twice got a follow-up email from a candidate who wanted to provide extra information and also took the opportunity to thank us, which was fine, but it definitely doesn’t sway the outcome or change the impression of the candidate overall.

    2. Allonge

      This – or in other countries. Actually at my (non-US, public) organisation, contacting the interview panel members would most likely disqualify you from the hiring process altogether. You have a contact at recruitment for information, and that’s it.

  25. Hurlanon

    I’m ok with either, as long as it’s not a “thank U for the interview” text message that is sent via email.

    My favorite thank you note of all time is a very nice, hand-written note that said I am an “excellent interviewer.” I received it when a was a new manager and it went a long way to boost my confidence when conducting interviews.

  26. emma2

    RE the last paragraph: I have been job-hunting for the past 1.5 years and never really knew that about thank you notes…woops. I do reiterate why I am interested in the job in relation to the interview, but I still always made the “thank you for your time” part the central theme of the emails. Something I will probably modify going forward. I have a question about the thank you emails: What would you suggest as good subject headings?

  27. Museum interviewee

    I had an interview this morning and came to AAM for thank you advice, so this post was perfectly timed! My interview was at a small history museum, and I was interviewed by the director and three board members. I have the director’s e-mail address, but the board members do not have work e-mail addresses, so I see snail mail as the only way to send them notes. The board members are also all retirees, so likely of a generation that would appreciate a handwritten note. Should I send notes to the museum for each board member and the director? They are interviewing others for this position on Wednesday and told me they expect to make a decision next week, so I think there’s a decent chance the board members will be at the museum sometime later this week, when they could receive the notes. Thoughts?

  28. Origin

    I’m wondering if you might mention something like this is relevant only to US settings. I read this page for a while last year when applying for jobs and sent notes as described here, except I only found out after the fact this is highly unusual in the UK.

  29. Greg

    I think the key point is that you need to know your audience. If you’re applying to startups, not only are handwritten notes unnecessary, they could hurt you by making you seem out of touch. But if you’re applying to a more staid institution, or if your interviewer is older, they might appreciate a note.

    Also, if you send a handwritten note, it should be IN ADDITION to the email. Yes, it seems redundant, which is really why it’s less about what you actually say in the note rather than the gesture of doing it (think sending a postcard when you’re on vacation).

    I recently applied to a job at a university, and I used the follow-up emails to restate my credentials and how they applied to the challenges the hiring committee had outlined, as I would have done for any other job. But the handwritten notes were literally thank-you notes (“Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me. I hope we have the chance to work together.” etc).

  30. Dolorous Bread

    Counterpoint: The last 3 jobs I’ve been hired at, I wrote thank you cards. I wrote them immediately after the interview in the lobby area, then asked where the building’s messenger/mail center was, and dropped them off there. The interviewers received their cards about an hour after their interview.

    I’m lucky that I already knew these two buildings have messenger centers, and this obviously won’t work for everyone, but all three of those managers commented on how impressed they were with the speed and personalization of the cards. My industry is print publishing though, so they may appreciate the old school in some respects.

  31. Lu

    I have to admit, I’m a bit lost about “building on the interview” in the note — what exactly does that entail? It strikes me as odd to try to bring up something like, “To follow up on X, I have these thoughts” in a note after an interview. Am I misreading this?

    Ooh, also: I recently had an interview where the only email contact I had was the HR person, who didn’t end up interviewing me. In that case, would it be appropriate to email the HR person with something like, “Hello So-and So! Could you please pass along my thanks to Whatherface and Whosits for the interview, etc.”?

    1. Greg

      First of all, I think the idea is to treat it like you are a consultant who was brought in for an initial meeting. What would you do in that circumstance? You’d send a follow-up saying, “Based on what you told me you were looking to accomplish, here’s my plan”. And then maybe you’d restate some of your qualifications — and this is important — in the context of their needs. So if they said they need someone with strong quantitative skills, then you mention you majored in statistics.

      As for your recent interview, ideally, you should send a personal thank-you directly to each person you met with. The best thing to do is ask the people on the way out of your meeting with them for their cards. If you didn’t get a chance to do that, you have a couple options: 1) You could try to deduce their addresses based on the format of the one you do have. If Jane Smith is jsmith@chocolateteapots.com, then Mary Jones is probably mjones@. There are also a couple tools that can help you, including EmailHunter.co and a Gmail plugin called Rapportive that allows you to check your guesses. So you type in mjones@chocolateteapots.com in the To: line and see if her LinkedIn profile pops up on the side of your screen.

      Failing all of that, you could always email the HR person and say, “Hey, I wanted to send thank-yous to Tom and Barbara, but I didn’t get their email addresses. Can you let me know what they are?”

  32. kristinyc

    I just got a handwritten note from a candidate… who paid $23 to send it Priority Mail! She also sent an email. It didn’t help – I had already told HR I wasn’t moving forward, and now I just feel bad that she sent so much on postage. Wow.

    1. Greg

      Now that’s just silly. I think there’s a line of thinking among some job seekers that there’s a secret code that will unlock all those wonderful jobs, and that you should pursue that at the expense of common sense. In this case, she probably missed the signals that the interview itself hadn’t gone well, and instead focused all her energies on the thank-you note. So she wasted her time and money and also went way overboard (I don’t know about you, but if I candidate I *liked* did something like that, it would give me pause).

      I think the most important takeaway from this whole discussion should be that, in the grand scheme of things, thank-you notes don’t matter all that much. Yes, do them right, and in marginal cases it might give you a tiny push over the top, but a great note is not going to salvage a bad interview.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Like a bunch of other bad career advice that’s all over the place, it’s often propagated by people without much significant or recent experience doing hiring themselves (which seems to be the case with the one you linked to, based on a quick check).

  33. Bradley

    Sorry, but I think it’s ridiculous to imply that handwritten thank you notes are somehow passé. A brief, well-written note on high-quality stationery is classy and timeless, and if placed in the mail immediately following the interview, it will arrive in one or two days.
    If they hire someone within two days of their final interviewee, they must not be giving much serious thought to their hiring decisions.

  34. Kay

    I just went for an interview today. I live in a small town so the job opportunities are limited. My experience is in Human Resources. The HR Mgr. called me to see if I would be interested in her position. She had taken another job in another city. Her position was going to be replaced as a “Contract” position for approximately 9 months. Since I am not employed at present I told her I would talk to them. First I had phone interview with Senior Mgr and Plant Manager. Afterwards, they wanted a face to face which was today. They explained that the Company is restructuring and that is why it is a 6 -9 month contract. Also, it would be my job to lay off a large majority of the workforce! I cannot decide if it would be worth taking the job if offered to be the hatchet person. Struggling to decide if I should send follow up thanks??

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