Do Thank You Notes Really Make A Difference?April 2, 2013
Most candidates believe that sending a thank-you note is the proper interviewing etiquette and will influence the hiring decision in a positive way. The ugly truth is that more often than not the thank you note has an adverse impact on getting the job.
Writing a thank you note early on in the hiring process only supplies the Hiring Manager with reasons not to hire a candidate.
Here are some examples:
Mark interviewed for a Compliance position at a global investment bank. He had a good meeting with the interviewer and we received positive feedback from the Hiring Manager. Within a few hours of the interview, Mark wrote a thank you note addressed to the wrong person. He was working off a thank you note template and failed to replace the name of the interviewer from a job he had previously applied to with the new interviewer’s name. Mark immediately realized his mistake and followed up with an apology explaining his mistake, but it was too late. Mark didn’t get the job.
Susan interviewed for a Marketing position at a premier law firm. Susan not only made a positive impression in her interview but also passed a writing and editing test for the firm with flying colors! Susan sent a very well-written note reiterating her strong interest in the position to the Hiring manager. A few days later, we heard from the Hiring manager that they had chosen not to move Susan forward in the interview process because they did not like her “writing style”. Susan didn’t get the job.
Brian interviewed for a Business Development position at a prominent hedge fund. The Hiring Manager was so impressed with Brian that she immediately requested he stick around so she could personally introduce him to the Managing Director of the Fund. Brian left the interview thinking he had this job in the bag. When he got home, he took special care to craft a hand-written thank you note to both interviewers, which he mailed out the next day. Brian thought that this personal touch would set him apart from the other candidates. A week went by and we were puzzled why Brian hadn’t heard back from the Hiring Manager. Eventually we checked in and found out that the Firm thought that any candidate in a business development role who didn’t use email instead of “snail mail” was not technically savvy enough to hold the position. Brian did not get the job.
In conclusion, we are not advising that candidates stay away from writing thank you notes all together. However, we are advising you to communicate through each step of the interview process with your recruiter, who will advise you regarding thank you note content and timing. Most recruiters have cultivated relationships with Hiring Managers over time, and may be able to provide special insights about what to include in the note. Ask your recruiter if you can send him/her your note to read over to check the content and review the note for typos before sending it. Do not send a generic thank you note. If you do choose to write one, include specific details that make you stand out. Try and include details from your meeting, information that impressed you about the company or the position itself. If you connected with your interviewer on a specific topic (i.e., you both played tennis or both went to the same university), use this connection. If you are unsure about whether to write a thank you note, it is better to wait until further on in the interview process. By then, hopefully, you will have already impressed your interviewers and weeded out some of your competition!