Should You Bother Sending Thank You Letters?

Someone in my office sent a video to us showcasing one of his clients being interviewed by ABC News about thank you letters after an interview. Every HR person interviewed enthusiastically approved the notion of sending thank you letters. Some went so far as to lavish praise over those who sent handwritten thank you letters.

Let me let you in on a dirty little secret.

There are three things a thank you note will do.

1. Get you rejected because it demonstrates how poorly you write

2. Give you an opportunity to highlight certain skills you have that may have been either overlooked by the interviewer or because you did a poor job presenting them or

3. Absolutely nothing.

Statistically, thank you letters do nothing because they arrive far after a decision has been made, In 40 years of doing recruiting, I have never heard an employer say, “You know, we rejected this person from consideration but their thank you letter changed our mind.”

But do a poor job and they will definitely get your candidacy rejected. I have heard employers say, “We were going to bring So and So back for another interview but their thank you letter was terrible . . . and they would site poor grammar or spelling as a basis for rejecting someone. There is no excuse for either in a day when spelling and grammar checking is built into word processing software.

From time to time, I hear of a thank you letter persuading an insecure or uncertain manager to have another conversation with someone. No disrespect to HR is meant in this next statement–Despite what those said on video, HR never changes its mind about someone based upon a thank you.

As for handwritten thank you letters, they are a waste of time. By the time they are delivered by the postal service, a decision was made two days before.

If you are going to send a thank you, make sure you

1. Email thank you’s to each person you met

2. Make each one a little different

3. Use them as an opportunity to explain how your experience fits what was specified by them as being sought in the interview

4. Express your interest in the job.

If you are not interested in a position, do not send a thank you letter unless it is to tell someone that you are not interested in the job.

Sending a thank you when you are not interested is like telling someone you dated for the first time that you will call them again and not.

Very bad manners.

So, there is nothing wrong with sending a thank you letter after an interview but don’t expect too much from yours. Statistics bear out that they are a general waste of time.

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