Are Thank You Notes After An Interview Necessary?
There was an uproar this week when Jessica Liebman, Executive Managing Editor of Business Insider and INSIDER and formerly an editor at Big Think and Condé Nast, wrote that she will not hire anyone that does not write her a thank you email. Emily Price wrote an article as well extolling the idea of sending a thank you note. Well, both ladies received a lot of feedback, not all positive. For those that did not think thank you notes were required, here were some of the common themes:
Why a note of thanks to the employer when employers do not get back to candidates
I don’t want to work for a company that would not hire me on the basis of my talents but on sending a thank you note
Indication that the company requires a lot of groveling to management
I was a bit surprised about the amount of emotion around some of the responses. Many people feel passionately about NOT sending any sort of thank you note. I think people may be looking at thank you notes purely from the traditional good manners aspect of why to send a thank you note. As a career coach, I look at a thank you note as one piece of your marketing package (including your resume, portfolio, etc.). You want to market yourself in a positive way to the hiring team. Your thank you note is often the last interaction people in the hiring team may have with you. I would encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity.
Is Being Anti-Thank You Notes A Generational View?
I did an internet search on the topic, and there were many articles all with the same theme---are thank you notes necessary in general in our modern times? There seems to be a split view on this. Some feel the notion of sending notes is antiquated, especially after you have said thank you in person, like a job seeker would normally have done at the end of an interview. Others feel that thank you notes are an act of gratitude and should be written when a kindness, such as time being given to talk to you, is done for them. Yet, according to a CareerBuilder survey conducted in 2016, 57% of people employed full-time who were 18 and over responded that they do not send thank you notes after an interview. Unfortunately, this survey did not break out the results by age and type of position (hourly versus salaried, blue collar versus professional). Having been a recruiter for many years, I still see thank you notes sent, but I will say that this is more-so from older job seekers than those fresh out of college, though I do see thank you notes from that generation as well.
Most Hiring Managers and Recruiters Still Expect A Thank You Note
From working with my team of hiring managers, I can definitely say that a thank you note is something that they look for and notice when one is not received. In an Accountemps survey from 2017, of the 300 HR managers polled, 22% said a thank you note was very helpful and 58% said it was somewhat helpful. Why would the thank you note be helpful? For one thing, it shows the hiring team that you are interested in the position. If you really didn't want the job would you put in the extra effort to let the hiring team know? For many hiring managers and recruiters, they judge interest by the information that they have been given during the recruitment process---punctuality in the candidate communications, enthusiasm during the interview and yes, a thank you note. Secondly, depending on the environment you will be working in, your manners and respect for others may be extremely important. In highly collaborative or customer service oriented environments, showing respect for others may be be a highly desired personal attribute. The thank you note may indicate to the hiring team, among other information gathered through the interview process, that you will be a fit for that culture. Lastly, if the position requires strong communication skills, you can showcase these skills in your thank you note.
Thank You Note As A Marketing Tool
As a career coach, I always tell my clients to send thank you notes. My rationale has nothing to do with kindness or manners. I see the thank you note as simply part of a candidate’s marketing tools. There are several items that a candidate might submit to the hiring team through the recruitment process. These may include a resume or CV, a cover letter or a portfolio of work. These all are to help the hiring team better understand the candidate’s knowledge, skills and achievements. I see a thank you note in the same way. It is one more opportunity to market oneself; it keeps the candidate top-of-mind with the hiring team. A well-crafted thank you note that reminds the hiring team what you can bring to the position and reiterates your interest in the job shows you in nothing but a positive light. It is also an opportunity to add information that you neglected to convey during the interview. Why would you not take the 10 minutes time it takes to write and send a thank you note to show your personal brand in a favorable way?
Is Sending A Thank You Note Via Email The Best?
The rule of thumb for thank you notes is that you should send it using the method that you have been communicating with the company. If it has mostly been through email, that is the best way to send a thank you note. In fact, the same Accountemps survey said that 94% of HR Managers felt that an email thank you was appropriate. Other options could be through snail mail, a phone call, by text or through social media. Timeliness is important. You want the thank you received within 48 hours of an interview and 24 hours is ideal. That is why snail mail is probably not the best method, unless you write and mail it right after the interview. Phone calls can be somewhat problematic if you have to leave a voice messages. Depending on what you want to say in a thank you, leaving a long voice mail generally will not work to your benefit, so it may be better to leave it to a written format. If you have been communicating with an employer via Linkedin, for example, it may be fine to write your note and use the LinkedIn messaging feature. Same can be said with texting. Just know that depending on what you might want to say, those platforms may not be appropriate for a longer or more substantive message.
What Should You Say In A Thank You Note?
A thank you note does not have to be complicated. Below is a good formula for crafting a thank you note.
A word of gratitude for meeting with you. Thank you again for talking with me yesterday. I really appreciate learning more about X company.
Noting something personal or career-wise about the person you interviewed with. It was great to hear that you have been with the company 10 years. That says a lot about the company and how people feel about working there.
Why you want to work for this company. Working in a start-up has been a goal of mine. I am very entrepreneurial and love working in a fast-paced environment, and this would be a wonderful learning experience. I would like the opportunity to be a part of this team.
Why you are a fit of this job. In the interview I spoke about my entrepreneurial bent, and I mentioned working on the A2A project, where I saw the opportunity to capitalize on a customer need that resulted in my company entering a new market segment with first year sales 150% over our estimated revenue.
Final sentence wrap up. Please let me know if you have any other questions or next steps for me. I look forward to hearing back from you. Again, thank you very much.
So, my advice is to market yourself well in the recruitment process and part of that is a thank you note. You will stand out from the crowd, you will be able to leave the hiring team with a positive impression, and you will be able to reiterate your interest in the position. If there is a tie between you and another candidate in terms of knowledge and skills for a job, the one that has sent a thank you note may get the nod, because the hiring team can see that this individual wants the job more than the other one. Since you do not know your competition and how they stack against you, wouldn’t ten minutes invested in a thank you note, if that was the difference between you getting the job or not, be worth it?