Should managers expect a thank-you note after a job interview?
Hiring 3 minute read

Should managers expect a thank-you note after a job interview?

Megan Orr | March 24, 2022

A heartfelt thank-you note after a job interview may be the tiebreaker and/or deciding factor for many hiring managers. But should it be? Expecting a thank-you note after a job interview might be causing your organization to miss out on top talent.

“Thank you so much for your time! I loved learning more about your organization and think my skills would make a great addition to the team. I look forward to hearing from you”. These post-job interview sentiments, summarized in a thank-you note (which is now often an email), might be the difference between hiring a candidate and passing on them. 

Research has shown that “63% of recruiters reported being more likely to hire someone who was angling for a higher salary but sent a thank-you note than someone who wanted slightly less money but didn’t bother to express gratitude”. Additionally, the same study found that “only 26% of entry-level job candidates typically send a thank-you note after a job interview”. 

Many people genuinely feel that a post-interview thank-you note is what separates a great candidate from a good one. 

An Ask a Manager reader recently wrote in to Alison Green asking about the importance of sending a thank-you note after a job interview. The reader is a relatively new hire in an HR role at a small company and has found that many of their colleagues put a lot of weight on whether a candidate sends a thank-you note after a job interview. 

The reader asked if they should potentially warn candidates ahead of time about the thank-you note requirement in order to help even the playing field for otherwise-qualified candidates. Alison agreed that this was a good idea, and mentioned considering having a conversation with the hiring managers to call out the “broader cultural baggage with the practice” of thank-you notes and how “it can be a real equity issue”. 

Alison also wrote in a Twitter thread about managers who refuse to continue considering candidates who don’t send a thank-you note after a job interview, noting that the practice discriminates “against candidates from backgrounds where they don't get this kind of job search training, which has nothing to do with skills & ability to excel on the job. I like thank-you notes but making them a requirement is a terrible practice”.

Essentially, if a thank-you note is what’s used to determine which candidate should be offered the role, the hiring manager needs to revisit the must-have qualities and skills of the role. 

A thank-you note is a courtesy, not a necessity. There can be exceptions, of course, in roles where that type of courtesy might be an asset that a hiring manager should take into account, for example in any communication or public relations role. A thank-you note, however, should never be the deciding factor. 

Also worth mentioning is that the power in hiring has shifted. Whether you’re calling it the Great Resignation or the Great Reckoning, candidates have more choice than ever before.

Many organizations do not extend the same courtesy of thanking candidates for their time, let alone letting them know when they have made their decision. Expecting a job candidate to send a thank-you note after a job interview—and hinging your hiring decisions on that formality—is misguided, and you could be missing out on otherwise great hires by getting caught up in the rigamarole of the hiring process.

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