Thank You Notes are Passé and Other Interviewing Myths

Stumbled across this BNET article about what What Hiring Managers Really Look For.   Sure, there are lots of points made in the article I agree with, a few things I could probably argue against, but overall a decent read.  The author writes from his personal experience, and I have no doubt this worked for him.  What really surprised me was one of the comments about the almighty interview thank you.  Yes, this is a direct quote -A thank you card? Please. Only if you just interviewed with your mother.”


Who knew?  I must be an absolute exception to this new rule because I have been told as a candidate my thank you card to my interviewer sealed the deal – more than once.  In fact, my current boss actually had hers in hand when she came to the lobby to deliver me to her boss for my 2nd interview the next day.  She wanted to tell me how much she appreciated the personal touch.  Maybe I’m just old school but I believe a hand written note, personalized to the interviewer, can make a positive impact.  I’m not talking about the “one size fits all thank you for your time” tired old line.  If not that, though – what?


Targeted to the audience.  Have we not made this clear?  Target your cover letter.  Target your resume.  And for the love of Pete, target your thank you letter!  Hopefully you’ve learned a thing or two about your interviewer in the 45 minutes you spent together.  Mention it!  I once made reference to Scottsdale, AZ after interviewing with someone who visited every year for the Barrett-Jackson auto show.  One of my job seekers referenced the new starting pitcher on the favorite baseball team he and the hiring manager shared.  Keep it clean, but make it personal.  You might even go hog wild and mention a point or two about what in your background makes you a fit for the actual job.


Know your audience.  Seems like we’ve covered this, but think about delivery.  I like hand written thank you notes.  In fact, in 10+ years of recruiting I’ve kept every one I’ve received.  Less than 20, I’m sad to say… what I don’t have, though, are the thank you e-mails.  Because I don’t care about them.  Maybe your interviewer was different.  Especially in this age of smart phones, maybe they prefer an e-mail.  Once I got really creative and sent a free Hallmark e-card that was sponsored by one of this agency’s best customers (who I would be recruiting for).  Hiring manager loved it and told me so.  Tweet them if you think that will catch their interest.  Just do SOMETHING.


Show your interest.  We see this all the time with applications.  I’ll call a candidate who actually went through our ATS and 24 hours later they have no idea why I’m calling.  But it’s different in an interview!  Of course you want the job! Right….?  Just looking at my corporate experience filling nearly 30 positions in the last 90 days I can tell you the candidates who followed up - with at least a thank you e-mail - are the ones who were ultimately offered a position.


If nothing else, remember what your Mother taught you.  JUST SAY THANK YOU.  It’s polite.

Views: 1949

Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 13, 2011 at 6:43pm

The guy who wrote that was obviously raised by wolves.  When anyone denigrates a thank you of any kind they simply identify themselves as a tasteless clod who joins the throng of idiots who are giving candidates bad advice.  I suppose that with the crowd of innovators common courtesy is also considered old school.  Dim wit.


 I have seen candidates hired a month later when they sent a thank you note after they were told they didn't get a job.  Saying thank you for the opportunity to interview,( i was disappointed not to be selected but please keep me in mind for future opportunites.  Your company and the people i met were impressive.)

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 13, 2011 at 6:46pm
Damn "thought leaders" strike again
Comment by Heather Weidekamp on September 14, 2011 at 9:27am
I agree completely! 100%
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on September 14, 2011 at 10:54am
Amy, you are so right. I love thank you notes, especially hand written ones.  These days, a hand written note requires an extra step or two and shows true thanks.  But I even like thank you emails.  Surprising, only about 40% of candidates bother to send any kind of note.  Shocking.  @Sandra is right; raised by wolves.  There is never an excuse for bad manners.  And sending a note when you didn't get a job is purely a class act; those candidates should be remembered and hired the next opportune time.
Comment by Kathleen Smith on September 14, 2011 at 11:02am

This is absolutely wonderful! and something that I share with all our job seekers. It is amazing how many folks forget to write thank you notes.

Thank you Ala!

Comment by Amber on September 14, 2011 at 11:14am

I have 3 candidates sending TY notes out today. I agree that most people will appreciate getting them. My son sends them, although probably via email, because he said he remembers me talking about the ones I received when I was a hiring manager.

@Sandra, I like the idea of a send out from candidates who weren't selected.

@Amy - thank goodness you didn't go and call them "gurus", lol!!!

Comment by Tiffany Branch on September 14, 2011 at 12:23pm
I guess I was raised by wolves because thank you notes (hand-written, emailed, etc.) leaves no impact on me. I discucss this issue time and time again with my recruiter pals and they feel the same way. I will ENCOURAGE folks to send a thank you note because you never know, someone may actually appreciate it.  I feel this way as a result of the many envelopes that I had to spend time opening when I was swamped with work or the tons of emails saying nothing that would really change my mind about their candidacy.
Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on September 14, 2011 at 12:28pm
Tiffany:  A thank you note is merely a matter of manners. They should be very short and to the point (in fact, long thank you notes which try to restate a candidate's strengths are a turn-off).  They are not intended to change your mind - unless they are poorly written and misspelled, in which case you should not pursue the candidate.  However, over the years, I have seen candidates get jobs because of a well written thank you note.  I can think of a couple of cases where a manager was on the fence between two candidate and hired the one who sent the note asking for the job.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 14, 2011 at 12:47pm

@Tiffany - I feel that way about e-mail thank yous.  Again ANY thank you I believe is appropriate but something about opening an envelope is cool and different, besides the time spent on the candidate's part.  Opening an e-mail, I do 100 times a day.  Ugh.


Overall there's a big difference between a 2nd "cover letter" (to Paul's point about the lengthy repcap) which IS a turn off, and a simple acknowledgement of someone's time... it's classy.


I've managed recruiting offices and have never hired a recruiter who couldn't bother to send a thank you.  Even if it was an e-mail.  :)

Comment by Tony Palm on September 14, 2011 at 1:18pm



I'm with you 100% and ALWAYS post handwritten notes on our central bulletin-board.


As an aside, one of my former managers had my note to her tacked up in her office for the duration of my employment there.


Sorry, good manners NEVER go out of style ~


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