Q: Are thank you notes obsolete? What’s the protocol for thanking someone after an interview?
Thank you notes are not obsolete. It’s as important as ever to thank someone after a job interview. In fact, for jobs where attention to detail and good follow-through skills are important, the thank you note is a chance to demonstrate your ability.
However, technology and how different people prefer to use it has muddied the waters a bit and has perhaps made the idea of a handwritten thank you note seem old-fashioned. People still write and receive handwritten thank you notes, but email thank you’s have become more and more accepted. It’s a matter of personal preference and sometimes timing, e.g. how quickly you want to follow up after the interview.
Here are some thank you protocols that I recommend following:
- Consider the note’s purpose. The thank you note should follow a simple structure and articulate several messages concisely: it should thank the interviewer for their time, reiterate your interest in the job and (very briefly) summarize how your skills and experience are a good fit for the position. While this isn’t the time to “re-interview” for the job, writing and sending a thank you note is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as a candidate.
- Consider writing a first draft and giving it to a friend or your recruiter to review. I often have candidates send me a draft of their thank you note before they send it to the interviewer. It’s helpful to have another set of eyes review the note for grammar, punctuation and possible mistakes.
- Make sure you know to whom and where to send it. Everyone you interview with should be thanked. I recommend collecting business cards of the people you meet with so you’ll have the correct spelling of their name and the right address. In lieu of this, you can always call the office’s main number, explain why you’re calling and ask the person you speak with to provide you with that information.
- Don’t ask any questions. This is single-purpose communication, the purpose being to thank the interviewer and show your interest in the position.
- Don’t delay. Thank you notes should be sent within a day or two of the interview.
About the Recruiter
Kristen Coppins has 9+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a Director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees the new hire training and development program. Kristen is also a member of ASA’s Continued Education Committee.