The post-interview thank you note: some swear by it, while others think it’s wasted effort. A recently published article has invigorated the debate on whether it’s a good practice, and while there’s no correct answer, thank you notes can have positive (and negative) effects.
Jessica Liebman, Executive Managing Editor of Insider Inc. (the parent company for Business Insider), published her opinion over the weekend. Her core argument: Thank you notes show a desire to get the job, and provide additional insight into how a candidate actually performs. From Business Insider:
How someone presents in interviews might not translate to effectiveness in the role. While sending a thank-you note doesn’t necessarily guarantee the person will be a good hire, it gives you the tiniest bit more data: The candidate is eager, organized, and well mannered enough to send the note. It shows resourcefulness, too, because the candidate often has to hunt down an email address the interviewer never gave them.
Liebman goes on to say: “At Insider Inc., we look to hire ‘good eggs.’ The thank-you email is a mark for the good-egg column.” (While calling the thank you note a “barrier to entry,” Liebman concedes it doesn’t always guarantee the candidate is the right fit.)
We’ve advocated for thank you notes in the past; they’re a good way to keep your name surfaced as a candidate; we also agree with Liebman that it shows you’re engaged and eager for the job. But they’re not always applicable or appreciated.
When job interviews don’t go well, a thank you note can show you’re out of touch; a well-meaning “Great talking to you!” note can make it seem like you’re just ignoring how you interviewed poorly (the “Fake it ’til you make it!” ethos is great for sourcing VC in Silicon Valley, but it’s not always great for job interviews).
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with a thank you note. Even if the recruiter or interviewer isn’t into it, it’s a simple gesture that shows you are still thinking of the role and company hours or days after your interview. But Liebman’s take suggests you should write one every time, and that’s just not always applicable.
We suggest ‘reading the room’ when you interview. If you participated in a get-to-know-you panel, and they showed great interest in scheduling a second round of interviews with you, you might not want to send a note until they make some kind of definitive move. If your interview was just plain terrible, sending a note will probably not go over well.
But Liebman’s stance that a company should never hire anyone who doesn’t send a post-interview thank-you note is baffling. It’s also a red flag. Would you really want to work for a company that used your thank-you note as a deciding factor in hiring you? The response to Liebman’s article on Twitter underscores it’s tone-deaf, with some calling it “pathetic” and showing an “insane level of privilege.”
It’s also exclusionary. Some treat the interview process as almost sacred, and a candidate reaching out afterward as “pushy” or otherwise taboo. Remaining in your lane while the process plays out isn’t bad, and definitely shouldn’t disqualify you from a job you’re otherwise qualified for.