Software

Three tips for making the most of an interview thank you note


Most of us are aware that sending a thank you note to interviewers after the interview is a must. They demonstrate a level of professionalism and manners that is always appreciated. But some people don't fully understand how useful a tool a thank you note can be. You can use it to strengthen points you made in the interview or to briefly clarify any issues you think you might need clarifying. Here are some ways to make the best of a thank you note:

  1. I remember when I was younger coming away from interviews without the slightest notion of the name of the person I interviewed with because I'd been so nervous. It would be especially bad if there were several people I'd had to talk to. Make a habit of asking for business cards from each person you talk to.
  2. If you interview with several people at the same company, chances are there will be a few minutes between each interview. Take that time to jot down some notes about the person you just spoke to because things may start to blur after the whole day is over. Maybe one person mentioned having car problems that morning. You can personalize your thank you note to him by saying you hope he got his car issues straightened out.
  3. It's tempting to e-mail a thank you note, especially if you've interviewed with a high-tech company. But from what I've heard from hiring managers, you just can't go wrong with a hard-copy note. Some companies are pretty traditional, and the fact that you've taken the time to hand-write a note goes a long way. Also, if you e-mail, there's a chance the company's e-mail filters will keep your note from getting to the person.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

25 comments
Tig2
Tig2

I carry note cards with me. I take active notes through the interview and will take the time to clip the business card to the note pad. When I get back to my car, I take the few minutes to write the note, address and stamp the envelope and mail it. By mailing immediately, it will be received while the interview is still fresh in the mind of the hiring manager. I have received thank you notes from candidates that I have interviewed. It does tend to make a difference.

alistair.k
alistair.k

Just a suggestion for those applying for posts in the UK since the UK and follow-ups were mentioned. Be wary about pushing the follow-up calls. I have worked in a couple of companies where people who were pushing for follow up info were looked badly on and did not get hired. Probably would not have got hired either way, but when HR comes to you and says "just get a damn rejection out to Mr Smith so he stops ####ing bugging us to see if he has the job" you know some people are calling too much! Theres a fine line between looking "keen" and looking "desperate". FWIW I would file a "thank you for my interview" card under "loony - do not hire!" Mind you I'd also feel less disposed to hire someone who called me "sir". Americans and Canadians can probably get away with this sort of thing in the UK if you are over here contracting or whatever. Well, you could with me. I have hired a lot of people from various nationalities and if they do things which seem "odd" to me as a Brit I just assume thats their culture and roll with it. I've never had a thank you note off an American candidate although we have had a few "strange cultural differences" in interviews etc. which I guess is a story for another day...

ozzyandus
ozzyandus

I sense a bit of cynicism here. I can find no reason why simple polite acts such as sending thank you notes could do any harm. We are such a hands-off society that the personal touches can make a difference. I have sent thank you notes and on each occasion have received a job offer. However, I don't think the offer came solely from the fact that I sent the note but gave me the "edge" over the competition because I reminded them to check again and preview my qualifications. I think it is well worth the effort.

Nehpets
Nehpets

just the same as the poms, if you sent a thank you note to an interviewer in Oz, they would think you a tosser, and mark your file "Stalker" I have been an interviewer in past roles, and receiving such a thing would definitely count AGAINST a candidate.

Twaka
Twaka

Not only is this a North American thing, it is more Hollywood(ish)! As have been said, not just corporate America/Canada is full of itself but their society in general is shallow with excessive platitudes and acknowledgements. With that said, I've never sent a thank you note for any of the jobs I got while in the US and I've never gotten a job for any thank you notes I sent while in Canada!!

acampodonico
acampodonico

In my long IT career working not only in North America but in Central and South America and the Caribbean, I never send or receive a thank you note after an interview.

jacqueline.tomlinson
jacqueline.tomlinson

Tip for any Americans\Canadians applying for jobs in the UK - DON'T write a thank you note, you'll just come across as smarmy.

services
services

I thought this was some great advise.

bill_koppelman
bill_koppelman

Great tips to keep the supply-side professionals on top of their game. But what about the interviewers who do not acknowledge or respond to the interviewee regarding their success or failure? I find this lack of professionalism, or common courtesy, becoming more prevalent as the Internet hiring wars rage and recruiting becomes more impersonal. Who is coaching the recruiter/interviewer on proper etiquette?

carl
carl

Thank you notes are not a tipping-point whether you get the position or not. Not sure where it was started but I have rarely received and have never sent such a letter or email. With all the email and paper a person receives at work, a thank you note is likely to get tossed. More effective would be a phone call to the hiring manager (not HR) around the time you the hiring decision is to be made (a question you should ask).

trailer
trailer

I am sorry but the very idea of sending such a note makes me cringe and in 20 years of interviewing candidates in the UK I have never received one. If I did I suspect I would put the candidate on the "don't even think about" pile. This may be a cultural thing but certainly not normal behaviour in the UK and likley to seperate the individual from the pack for the wrong reasons.

glass2dl
glass2dl

Believe it or not sometimes people do things - like send a thank you note to an interviewer - out of kindness or respect. Not everyone has a hidden agenda.

clare.smith
clare.smith

I've always sent thank you notes as a way of getting my name back in the interviewers mind. Even when I haven't been offered the position, the interviewer called to let me know and give me a tip to another position I was hired for. It's another way to network.

blazzercat
blazzercat

For my present job I sent a thank you card with overnight delivery to the hiring manager. She was quite impressed that I took the time and expense to do so. Obviously if you are interviewing with several companies this can get expensive but could worth the effort for the job you really want.

fiatlux9167
fiatlux9167

Thank you for pointing out this cultural difference, and thanks to others as well for doing likewise. As an American who has worked in the U.S. and in Canada (in an English-speaking province), I don't regard thank-you notes as required but I do think they are appreciated *if* they are sincere. In one case in the U.S. after I was hired into a job my manager told me that my thank-you note had made me stand out, in a positive way, from other people she had interviewed.

gk
gk

I have never received acknowledgement for a thank you, and even in cases where I took the time to personalize a note, it never helped in a later follow-up message or call for an update on the position status. Interviews have come to be a black hole where you throw your resume and any other interview information and you seldom receive the COURTESY of a timely response!

drdosus
drdosus

An interview thank you note is a bit of overkill, however a follow-up letter with a gentle questioning about "when can I start" will sometimes tip the balance and has worked for me at least 2 times to my knowledge. FYI, I send the follow-up letters a week to 10 days after my interview.

mburrows
mburrows

How odd!! Whatever happened to shaking the interviewer's hand and thanking them for their time? If you didn't impress them in the interview I don't see how some silly note is going to change their mind.

kmurray
kmurray

I've been recruiting for many years, and have not once received a thank you letter from any candidate. On the other side of the hiring spectrum, I have also been interviewed for many positions, and not once have I received an offer from one to which I sent a thank you. They're a complete waste of time.

Stelian
Stelian

Shortly after I came to Canada I had an interview that I thought went pretty well but I didn't hear back from them in a couple of days and they were in a big hurry to fill the position. A friend of mine asked me if I sent the ?Thank you? note and I didn?t. After I did they called me and made the offer. I?ll never know if it was a coincidence. They fired the guy who hired me shortly after. My 2 cents: it is a stupid thing to do, as stupid as bragging about your self confidence and all that other typical American crap, but chances are that we?re not going to change all this overnight so we better do as they expect. The most we can do to change this is to eliminate such candidates when we get in the position to hire. But even then ? what if the poor candidate is the perfect match and is doing this simply because he thinks you expect it?

pjunkel-pcmind
pjunkel-pcmind

Thank goodness you said that. I always send a "thank you" email, but I really have never seen any benefit from doing so. If I get hired, I am never told, "Your thank you note was impressive! That is why we hired you." Corporate America is so full of itself. If I take the time to send thank you notes, then each interviewer should take the time to send me a rejection letter is I do not get hired. However, that RARELY happens. I think I have received two out of five hundred resumes in my job hunting career.

uberg33k50
uberg33k50

Years ago my first IT position interview the guy asked me one question I did not know the answer to. I looked up the answer later and I did send a thank you email and included the correct answer to the question. After I was hired the guy that interviewed me told me that the thank you and the persistence to get the answer to the question were determining factors in me being selected. I have always felt kind of uneasy about sending them (feels like sucking up) but in that case it did help.

smatteson
smatteson

Maybe this is a reflection on my own cynicism but I have seen post-interview thank you notes and there's just something "staged" and inauthentic about them. Sort of the like the candidate figured "OK, I did the part where I shook the interviewer's hand, made eye contact and called them by their name, now it's time to send the handwritten thank-you note as part of my job seeker's script." Don't get me wrong: I'm not saying I think it was the sign of a scheming phony just trying to suck up to the company. More of a ritualistic dance step I suppose.

GreenPirogue
GreenPirogue

smr19 described Thank You notes as a "ritualistic dance step." I have hired people for years, and most interviewees don't know how to dance. I get one, maybe two or three, thank you notes per round of interviews. That's it. And I cannot figure out why everyone is not providing thank you notes. When I write them, not only are they personal, but they remind the interviewer how my qualifications mesh with their company.

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