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Thursday, October 8, 2009

should employers respond to job-seekers' post-interview thank-you notes?

A reader writes:

What's the etiquette of responding to a job candidate's thank you note? Is this the right thing for employers to do?

Every time I go for an interview, I always send out a thank you email, normally on the same day. Some companies/people I interview with were kind enough to respond to my thank you, but mostly just don't. From past experience though, it never really means anything as far as whether or not I get the job, since I got jobs from the non-responsive companies, and did not get jobs from those who responded. But when companies/people respond to my thank you notes, even if I didn't get the job at the end, it always gives me a positive impression about them.

What's your take on this?

You know what's weird? I went years without ever being asked this question, and now I've been asked it numerous times in the last two months. I can't figure out why. In any case...

I do not think courtesy demands that employers send a thank-you in response to your thank-you. I think of it like gift etiquette, where if someone sends you a thank-you note for your gift, you're not expected to then send them a thank-you for their thank-you. If you were, it could become an endless cycle, and we would all just keep thanking each other over and over and have no time to watch Top Chef.

(And imagine if you had to do it with thank-you's that arrived by mail rather than email. It would get time-consuming.)

That said, it's certainly a kind and gracious gesture to reply to a candidate's thank-you note. When I have the time (which isn't always the case), I'll sometimes reply with something like, "It was great meeting you as well, and we'll be in touch soon." But again, I think this is optional, and I wouldn't read anything into it when employers don't do it.

Anyone want to argue that it's obligatory?


Anonymous said...

From the original poster.

Thank you for posting my question so quickly, AAM.

I recently had 10 (yes, right, ten) interviews with a large company, meeting with nine people - one person interviewed me twice. Almost all of them responded to my thank you emails, with the exception of the hiring manager.

I ended up not getting the job, and in fact no body else was hired either. But apart from getting a bit frustrated by the long, dragging process that had no conclusion at the end, I still have really nice impression about that company. I feel that most of the people I met were very welcoming and they embraced the possibility of my joining their team.

From my perspective, it is still a thing for employers to practice. On the other hand, I wonder if it would give candidates a 'false hope' when we get a response for the thank you note, thinking that we are the special one and will therefore automatically get the job.

Anonymous said...

Related question for AAM: I've always sent hand-written thank you notes, thinking that was more professional than email. These days, it seems email is an acceptable substitute, and more instantaneous of course. Yet emails sometimes get overlooked or land in a spam folder, etc.

Which do you recommend? Is it overkill to send a brief email and then a snail mail note as well?

Anonymous said...

yes employers should help employ the job seekers because there are disperate to work so i feel is right to respond to job seekers like me.

Anonymous said...

Many companies, including mine - have a policy - no contact with a candidate outside of HR. I frequently receive thank you notes for people I interview as the hiring manager, and this certainly helps me form a favorable impression of that candidate, however I never respond. Not because I'm rude or don't care, but because our HR department has a very smart policy in place to protect us.

Ask a Manager said...

I do think email is perfectly fine -- often even better, because it gets there quickly. I sometimes receive postal mail thank-yous after my decision has already been made. I think email has become perfectly acceptable for thank-yous.

I'd say using both would be overkill.

Unknown said...

I've done many thx-you notes and after a while, wondered if they were worth writing. Does this add value to your application? Does this help being remembered from the crowd? I have a serious doubt.

What is your view?

Anonymous said...

I have to say I started thinking the same thing. I've been sending countless thank you notes and the problem with that was it made me waiting for the response. And lots of times there wasn't any.

Now, I also interviewed a few candidates and just realized recently, I received not even one thank you note from anyone of them. And a few of those candidates got hired.

So probably I should re-think this.

Ask a Manager said...

Thank-you notes do matter. They're not going to convince me to hire a bad candidate over a good one, but when you have several great candidates, I absolutely take note of who sends them. It only takes a minute -- why not just do it? It won't hurt, and it may help.

Unknown said...

What does it say of a good candidate that does not send one?

Ask a Manager said...

It's more what it says about the candidates who do send them. For them, I know that they're very interested, and care about making a good impression. For candidates who don't send them, those things may be question marks.