Friday, November 30, 2012

Thank you note etiquette

Because I can't send each and every one of 
you a thank you note, I've appended one above. 

I've also typed it out for comparison. 


I am a big believer in writing 'thank you' notes (by e-mail or in person.) I also think that it's important for job candidates to send thank you notes after on-site interviews. After a long discussion recently elsewhere online*, it seemed like the general consensus was:
  • Send an e-mail note as soon as possible after the interview. 
  • Write a physical thank you note (on nice stationery?) as well, to be sent after you return home. 
  • Send to all relevant people (at least your immediate 'host' and head honcho). 
  • Add personal details, or reinforce a point that you'd like to make again. 
There was some pushback about whether or not a physical thank you note was necessary or relevant, as opposed to e-mail. I argued that a handwritten note is typically more impactful in that it is a physical object (and a tool that is not usually used, i.e. handwriting, and thank you notes.) I am not sure that the detractors felt that physical thank you notes were worth the effort and expense. 

Perhaps things have changed, and thank you e-mails are now de rigueur. Readers, what say you? 

*Being oblique to protect the innocent

18 comments:

  1. Perhaps I've become too crotchety, but getting thank you notes after interviewing somebody just annoys me. Not saying it doesn't work (the real point is to keep your name in the hirers head), but it strikes me as a cynical obsequity.

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    Replies
    1. Having sent them, presumably there is a fine art to being solicitous, but not obsequious. Sincerity is important.

      As for the cynical part, well, it's about getting a job.

      Delete
  2. I interviewed at a company and sent handwritten thank you notes to over a dozen people. I didn't get the job. My next two interviews I did not send thank you notes and I got offers from both companies. Sitting on the opposite side of the table, I'm neither swayed nor discouraged by the presence/absence of thank you notes (either handwritten or typed/e-mailed). I suppose I agree with bboooooya to an extent, they take up space, but don't factor into my final decision in any way.

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  3. Just something that us peons have wondered about: is there a certain level at which this stops? Does a CEO being recruited for a Fortune 25 company write thank you notes to the board members?

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    Replies
    1. I assume that, at that level, it's phone calls. But who knows? Maybe it's signed photos and Stetsons in leather hatboxes?

      Delete
  4. I think for the most part thank you notes are bs propagated by those "10 advice" write-up Yahoo is so fond of. They neither help nor harm your chances. Well, as long as one is capable of composing short, polite letter in proper English.

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  5. I've often ruminated on this. To be honest, I find it stands out negatively if I interview someone and they don't send a thank you note (by email). Seems that they didn't get the polite memo. But I certainly wouldn't expect a hand written one - and I would find anything over and beyond a simple thank you annoying.

    On the other side, generally by that point the interviewers have made their mind up - one way or the other. A thank you note could be thought to only inject risk should they already think positively of you - and would never be sufficient to salvage your application if they don't.

    I think I will continue to send (when I next interview for something) brief thank you's - but avoid using it as an excuse to continue trying to sell myself. And I will expect that of applicants I see I think - and probably think a little less of them if they don't. Not enough to throw out their application if I loved them - but could be a deciding factor if they were right on the edge.

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  6. When I've interviewed for jobs, I've sent the email thank you's, only because it's expected nowadays. However, I've also interviewed people for jobs, and didn't mind that they did not send a thank you email, probably because I did not notice. For me, an overly obsequious thank you email would be more likely to make me feel less positive toward them, especially if I was on the fence about them.
    Then again, I've old enough to remember when you did not have to thank someone in writing for interviewing you. They were simply doing their job, not giving you a present.

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    Replies
    1. I think most HR people think they are giving you a present.

      Delete
  7. A hand written thank you note would be nice, but there are so many cases where the decision is made before they would even receive it in the mail. At that point it's just wasting paper and everybody's time.

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  8. So what is the scientific consensus? It does not matter so don't write one?

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    Replies
    1. I say continue sending brief electronic thank yous. Most of us have agreed that it isn't necessary, but a short one doesn't really hurt you. One person said they'd feel slighted if one wasn't sent, that's enough risk in my mind to warrant spending 30 seconds to send an email

      Delete
  9. When I interviewed, I sent handwritten email notes to those I thought were directly involved in the decision of my hiring (PIs for the most part, but there were others involved) and email thank you's to everyone who spent time with me. To me, it is a matter of courtesy.

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  10. Nobody likes a kiss-ass. A handwritten note after an email would seem like the applicant is trying too hard, and would make me question their tactics. After an interview, the interviewer knows if the applicant would be a good fit or not. A second, hand-written letter is kissing ass, which is pathetic.

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  11. Au contraire, many many people like a kiss-ass.

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  12. Having interviewed several applicants over the years, I do expect a thank you (preferably via email within 24 hours). It definitely influences my hiring decision.

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  13. Awesome admin. I will also give a thank you notes to my friend. by saiful

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  14. As a graphic designer, I always design a card and envelope, then do a handwritten message on the inside. I've gotten tons of positive feedback from hiring managers on them, so I will continue doing this! As an interviewer at my current company, when I receive a thank you, I do appreciate it and view the interviewee more favorably.

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