Multiple choice question. While on the job hunt, should you: A, send a thank-you note after a job interview? B, throw yourself across the HR person's desk and beg for mercy? Or C, promise lots of after-hours work, no vacations, and your first born? If you answered B, we have a lot in common. But let's go with A instead.
We've been taught that following up an interview with a simple, "Thank you for the opportunity," is one of those small things you can do that can leave a big impression. When you're competing against other candidates whose resumes might very well look a lot like yours, a thank-you note can be that tiny detail that tips things in your favor, right? Sure, it doesn't guarantee you the job; but when properly executed, it can still add a nice touch. What do some of the pros think, though? Their opinions are varied.
"Sending a well-crafted and timely thank-you note can add a positive impression to an already positive connection," Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent, which specializes in recruiting and staff development, told Monster.com. Ken Goldman of ImproSells, a communication training company, agreed, adding that failing to send a thank-you note could actually be detrimental.
"If you're not going to take the extra steps to get the job, what will you be like six months in? I think it reflects poorly on the candidate,"he said. Is it really possible that your choice to skip the thank-you note can reflect on your general performance as an employee?
I've always been a pro-thank-you-note advocate, but I've also always been worried about coming across as a complete suck-up. After all, what are you thanking them for? They didn't do you a favor. This is business. They have a position to fill. They know it, you know it, everyone knows it. While many professionals emphatically agree that a thank-you is a must, can you still go about it wrong?
Of course! Alison Green, also known as the expert behind Ask a Manager, explains further in a recent article on her website: "Make sure that your thank-you note isn't really about thanking them for their time. The term 'thank-you note' is misleading here, because what you really want to do is to build on the conversation that you had in the interview and reiterate that you’re excited about the job," she wrote.
"Thanks doesn’t even need to be part of it," she added, noting that "after all, they weren’t doing you a favor by interviewing you any more than you were doing them a favor by talking to them."
Going with Green's perspective, there is, then, a certain art to the post-interview thank-you. The ideal follow-up note is not so much thanking them for the opportunity — since they need someone like you — but rather reminding them that you're serious about this position and eager to come work for them (and do an amazing job).
While most people will agree that a thank-you note is polite, not everyone agrees on how necessary it is. "I’ve never seen it come close to making a difference in a hiring decision," said recruiter and career coach Sharon Siegel to Monster.com. "If someone meets the credentials and has a great interview, we're not going to change our minds on making an offer if a thank you isn't received. On the other side, if someone has a terrible interview ... sending a beautiful thank you doesn't make me change my mind." Based on Siegel's advice, then, a thank-you note of some kind might be nice, but it really has no bearing on the ultimate goal: Getting the job.
Believe it or not, there are people who advise against sending a thank-you completely. Attorney Kristine Dunkerton is one of them: "It is better to not send one, especially if you are not a good writer or [if you] have really poor handwriting ... I don’t think it is a great idea because it makes you seem a bit desperate," she said according to Monster.com.
While everyone has their own thoughts on the matter, the consensus seems to be that at the very least, a thank-you note can't hurt; and at most, it might work in your favor. So how should you go about doing it? As thoughtful as handwritten letters are, they take longer to arrive and could be sitting in a pile on someone's desk for who knows how long. Plus, you want to keep it professional. As Green said, "It’s business correspondence, not social correspondence." Instead, opt for an email within 24 hours after your interview; and keep it short, sweet, and to the point.