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Sending Thank you's

Does anyone here send thank you notes after an interview?  A lot of websites recommend it.  I have only been inclined to send one, didn't get the position, but I thought the interview went well.  Is it even necessary?

x=5;x==1?x*=2:x-=3;c=5;b=2;d=1;x=!d;x+=c*b;
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I interviewed with an awefully cute girl once, I was tempted to send her a thank you note and do a little flirting.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I strongly recommend it.  I know that a thank-you note (or the lack thereof) influences me when I interview high school students who are applying to an alma mater of mine.

J. D. Trollinger
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

It makes a strong impression.  As an interviewer, I've never received one.  As an interviewee, I always send one.  You will definitely stand out if you do it.

Ken Klose
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I would agree that putting forth the effort to do a little something extra often does make a difference.

I actually would never have been hired by my current employer had I not written a brief "follow up" letter expressing my interest in working for the company and inquiring whether any positions were still available.  (I hadn't heard back in several weeks after submitting my resume.)  It turns out that the president of the company had automatically put my resume in the "no" pile because I had put down a friend as a reference who had worked for him in the past, and unbeknownst to me, that friend had been a lousy worker with a terrible attitude.  I was presumed guilty by association.

Anyway, my letter was just enough to get the owner to second look at my resume, and I was hired soon afterward.  I have now been here several years...

Tim Lara
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I've been hired because I made a follow up trip after an interview. The owner of the company noticed that I'd been down there twice and hired me on the spot.

www.MarkTAW.com
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Ditto the 'yes' answers. Not a scientific study, but I got my last two jobs because I wrote a note 24-hours after the interview.

Spam
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

For my current job, I sent a thank you e-mail shortly after the interview. After I joined, I was told by one of my interviewers that they thought it was a bit false and didn't like that kind of thing. (didn't hurt my application too much thought it seems!)

According to www.asktheheadhunter.com, straightforward 'thank you for your time' e-mails really don't cut it, because it is essentially without meaning (except possibly for 'please please give me the job'). A mail which comes back following up on points of discussion in the interview suggest a lot more.

Joel Goodwin
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

All those tips on sprucing up your cover letter and resume can't make you stand out anywhere near as much as a Thank You letter.  In almost 10 years of interviewing, I think I've received 2.  Two!!

Amazing, because until I became an interviewer instead of interviewee, I thought everyone sent them.  I always did.

I guess it went out the window around the same time as the courtesy No Thank you letter from employers.  No seems to send those either (or even acknowledgement emails that they received something).

David
Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I sent a thank you note to a company.
They thought I had accepted the job! (The offer & thank you's crossed in the mail.)

BTW, I hand-wrote thank you notes... would probably still do so today. Makes an impression, though it is fodder for the graphology crowd.

mb
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I recieved one thank-you note from the last batch of people that I interviewed, two "wait, I've changed my answer to the code/design/impossible question" emails, and two "please hire me, I'll work for free the first month" emails.

Of these, the thank-you stood out. Unfortunately, the person who sent it was a no-hire halfway through the interview. It did draw my attention back to them, however.

Never send an email or leave a phone message begging for the job. That was truly the worst feeling I've ever experienced.

Tim Sullivan
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Things must be different across the pond.

Over here (UK) I've never heard of this practice. I've been doing recruitment and interviews for my clients for almost 20 years and nobody ever sent me a note afterwards.

Perhaps I'm too harsh and they just think "phew, glad to be out of there, he asked some really tricky questions".

Everything is done through job agencies here though (pretty much), so maybe the agents get the notes.

Steve Jones (UK)
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Dear namesake and compatriot,
                                                It does appear to be an American thing. I've only ever sent "no thankyou letters". I probably receive thank you mails after the interview but because we still hire anybody who has "passed" the interview, I don't really pay any attention to them.

                                                  Incidentally I always  send out acknowledgements when we refuse somebody, the first five times they apply. After that I set Outlook to delete their incoming mails; you would be amazed at the number of people who don't even notice you've already refused them two or three times!

Stephen Jones
Thursday, June 26, 2003

I have to wonder if, contrary to stereotypes, US-ians tend to be a bit more formal than UK-ians, at least in business dealings; although I can't prove it, I get the feeling that that's indeed the case.

Also, I get the impression that thank-you notes are more prominent in the US-ian collective consciousness than over here. I've never interviewed anyone, but thank-you notes of any kind are relatively rare in the UK; I write loads more than I receive. The ratio of *actually writing* notes to just *feeling guilty about not* writing them in each culture is clearly a subject for further study.

But I digress. Should you write a note in this situation? Let's see. Is it good manners? Yes. Is it common practice? No, so it'll raise your profile with them. Will it increase your chances of getting the job? Who can say.

Now, for me, all those considerations add up to a 'yes'; YMMV. Some people will want to do 'good manners' for good manners' sake; others will not want to take any trouble unless it will guarantee them success.

What should be in it? Probably open with "It was a pleasure to meet you today. I really appreciated your taking the time to blah blah blah" followed by a brief summarization of the main points of your discussion. Try to weight it in favour of the "thank you" at least as much as the "I subtly hint that these are good reasons for giving me the job".

Woodpulp or e-mail? Most thank-you notes are a woodpulp thing, and this is a formal situation, so definitely woodpulp.

Handwriting or printing? Well, social thank-you notes are supposed to be handwritten (personal, y'know) but this is a business letter, so printed. It's not that handwriting would be a mistake, more that it leans towards 'being outrageous', insofar as it's possible to be outrageous in a thank-you note.

Finally, will there be companies that hold 'good manners' against you? Probably. Whether or not you would want to work for them, depends on whether you yourself approve or disapprove of 'good manners'; YMMV.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Guys, I'm really sorry bit all those American things with "cover letters" and "thank you" notes seems a bit like ass-kissing to me.

First, people expect to like their place in some special way and write in cover letter about it.
Then, they expect candidates to like an interview process (for some reason) and write a "thank you" note about it. Why should candidates be thankfull to you ? You didn't receive any single note after interviewing for ten years ? Well, may be nobody liked the way you did it ?

Yes, I understand that doing it will mark the person. But lying always did it in general life. If you lie in a smart way - it always helps.

So, to the original poster - I would answer - write such a note if you feel that way. Otherwise, you're just kissing their asses trying to make an extra impression.

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

If you're going to thank them for the time spent - you've spent this time as well.

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Yes, and that's the reason I've thanked candidates in the past for taking the time to come out for the interview!

A thankyou note is a good way to express appreciation or respectfulness.  Ink and paper are a further way, as they require some effort.

I'd rather work with someone who was capable of these feelings.  And yes I realize that not sending a note does not mean one is not capable.  And yes I realize that the note could be insincere, but it is another data point.  The more communication that occurs, the more of a feel I get for a person :-)

Scot
Thursday, June 26, 2003

[[ A thankyou note is a good way to express appreciation or respectfulness ]]

That's the problem .. It seems to me that most people usually expect others to appreciate the position they're offering, the interview they've just took the person through, the you-name-it, etc and etc. As I said, the reason for this is unknown to me. Why do you think people leave the interview appreciating your efforts and being respectfull to you ? Yes, *in case they are* - good note is a good way to show it off. But we're talking about common cases, like "should I always send the thank you note". Sure you should if you feel respectfull, but making this *a rule* - that's what I call ass-kissing. I guess, most people enjoy when their asses are kissed :)
Please, I'm not trying to hurt somebody's feeling, just telling that those things should be individual and rare, like it usually happens in the life. In no way should this be a common practice. There's no surprise people don't get those "thank you" notes - think, why should you ?

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

After a software design meeting, you might often follow-up with a written summary of what you discussed and decided, and a list of things to do next: for example to ensure that everyone is 'on the same page', to put it into long-term memory, and because trust is earned (you can earn trust by following through, with actions that match your statements).

By extrapolation, you might do this after an intervew too.

Inserting "thank you" in a note like this is just courtesy. Having spent a lot of time online I realise that written messages which just "stick to the facts" can come accross as abrupt, or even rude or angry, presuming too much.

If it happens that you have no respect for the person with whom you've interviewed then perhaps you shouldn't write; but I can't say that (feeling no respect) has ever happened to me.

Christopher Wells
Thursday, June 26, 2003

If the interview resulted in you wanting the job, then it follows you must be grateful you had the interview. That's when you send the note.

if you hated the interview and don't want to work there, then don't send the note.

It works both ways too -- I never accept a job unless I recieve a thank you note from the interviewer since I don't want to work for rude, thankless people.

Polite businesses succeed and then there's more of the pie to go around.

Viva la common courtesy!

Tony Chang
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Honestly, it only happened to me once when I really enjoyed the interview - the questions were those that made me actually think instead of shooting the right answer almost right away.

I couldn't stop myself from telling the guy that I really enjoyed talking to him this evening. He said he felt the same way. This is my way of sending the "thank you " note - tell it to the guy right away. So that he'll feel you really mean it.

Like I said, it only happened to me once in the last 4-5 years.

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Christopher Wells wrote: "Having spent a lot of time online I realise that written messages which just 'stick to the facts' can come accross as abrupt, or even rude or angry..."

Thank you for that observation.  I'm glad that I'm not the only one who feels that way.  I'm always taken aback when I receive a one-sentence-long e-mail message that contains no salution, no signature, and no polite words or phrases (like, "Thanks for considering my request", or, "I hope everything is going well", or some such thing).

J. D. Trollinger
Thursday, June 26, 2003

"no salution"

Er, that should be "salutation".

J. D. Trollinger
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Are we starting to talk about different things ?
What recent posters mention is that one-sentence letters without any "Thank you" or "Best regards" look not so good. I really can't agree more on this point - I'm personally always trying to add "Hello" and "Best regards" in my letters.

But what original poster started from is that the whole point of sending the letter was just saying "Thank you".  Without being truly thankful. Out of courtesy. Just because "a lot of websites recommend it".

I think you'll agree that doing this is absolutely different from inserting "thank you" in a note out of courtesy ..

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

[[ Without being truly thankful. Out of courtesy ]]

Should be "Without being truly thankful. Nothing about courtesy"

Evgeny Goldin
Thursday, June 26, 2003

Evgeny, I see your point, I'm just looking at it from a different perspective.

Take the analogy of receiving a gift. If I came home and found a BMW parked outside my house, tied up with a big bow, you can bet that I'll be so thrilled that I'll be shrieking my thanks by phone, letter, e-mail, smoke signals, SMS, carrier pigeon, and telegram, all within 30 seconds of realizing it's for me.

Conversely, if I receive a dog-turd or a letter bomb, I probably won't send a thank-you letter.

What about the inbetween cases? Someone sends me a nice book, for example, that I quite like; or a street-map of the suburbs of Melbourne, which doesn't offend me, but for which I can't really imagine a use?

In cases like that, I just defer to the idea that someone sent me a gift that I wasn't there to thank them for in person, so I'll write them a letter.

Am I doing it because I'm "supposed" to write a letter in this situation? Well, sure. I don't see a need to scrutinize my psyche to make sure I really, really feel gratitude in the depths of my soul. Nor to ponder the motives of the sender, and ask myself whether they sent the gift out of a deep and abiding love for me or whether I was simply another datapoint on their Xmas list. These are important questions, but somewhat independent of the fact that someone *did* send a gift, the fact that it is considered courteous to write a note in response, and the fact that there is no particular reason *not* to be courteous in this situation. It's just a note, after all - it's not like I'm donating a kidney to them or something.

Likewise, I'd send a thank-you letter after an interview because as far as I'm concerned it is one of the things for which a letter would be courteous. If the interview leaves me manic with enthusiasm, my enthusiasm is going to shine through even though I would have written a letter anyway.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, June 27, 2003

Incidentally, what should I be 'thanking' them for?

The opportunity to be interviewed(Sounds escher'esque to me)?
A particular interview technique perspective?
The new outlook on the company they gave me?
A good day out/pleasant chat?

Unfortunately (and without any intent to sound like a troll), I find it hard to imagine a thank you note that doesn't sound like blatant arse-licking...

SC
Friday, June 27, 2003

For interviewing you.

Precisely how you word it depends on what happened during the interview.

I admit that, as a Brit, I know where you're coming from when you say you're afraid of seeming smarmy. It was hard to force myself to write my first thank-you for an interview, precisely because of this.

The secret is to be ultra-careful to sound businesslike as opposed to smarmy all the way through. That is a bit of an art, but it can be done.

But then, I was also nervous about sending thank-you letters to friends who had entertained me, for precisely the same reasons. I was afraid that doing so would expose me to ridicule and place me in a lower position.

Well, it did - but only with those 'friends' that I'd suspected were pretty nasty all along. The ones who weren't interested in put-downs and power struggles started thanking me for stuff, and the number of reasons for us to thank each other began to escalate. The result is that I now have better friends.

By the same token, if an interviewer reads your letter and thinks "what is the smarmy git trying to pull", he is either a snotty bastard or has just read an inappropriately smarmy letter.

However, the fact of writing the letter is not in itself smarmy.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, June 27, 2003

Instead of viewing thank-you notes as "ass kissing", I'd view them as helping to sell yourself, which is the objective of any interview. It makes sense for an interviewee to do things that they don't normally do: dress nicely, act cheerful and upbeat, brag about their accomplishments, and send thank-you notes. The better the impression that you make, the more likely that you'll receive a job offer.

Julian
Friday, June 27, 2003

When I interview people the hire/no hire decision has been made long before anyone could conceivably get a thank-you note to me. Even if by some miracle the candidate could get me a note before I typed up my interview feedback, a thank you note tells me absolutely nothing about

* smart
* gets stuff done
* can write code

which are the only things that I deeply care about.

That said, OF COURSE YOU SHOULD SEND A THANK-YOU NOTE!  Not because it will help you land the job, but because it is the right thing to do!  It's like holding elevators or not cutting people off on the freeway -- in a civilized society we do things for each other out of a sense of politeness and common decency.

But if you want a "selfish" reason, here's one: what if you get the job?  Isn't it a good idea to make as positive a first impression on your future co-workers as possible?

Eric

Eric Lippert
Friday, June 27, 2003

You can be the best coder in the world and be a negative asset to a team if you have the wrong attitude.

You can be a mediocre programmer and be the one contributing the most to a project's success if you bring people together, smooth out differences, and facilitate lines of communication.

On large projects, facilitating communication is far more valuable in terms of creating project success than having top coding skills.

Dressing cleanly for interviews is a sign that suggests the candidate understands social contracts. Maybe he wears sandals and shorts normally, but the tie at the interview suggests he knows enough to dress up when meeting with clients.

Sending a thank you note suggests the candidate is smart enough to understand the importance of team building, tact and diplomacy, and he acts on those smarts to get things done such as promptly send a nicely formatted thank you note.

Odds are that the candidate sending the note will contribute more to project success than the superstar coder who doesn't.

X. J. Scott
Saturday, June 28, 2003

"Odds are that the candidate sending the note will contribute more to project success than the superstar coder who doesn't."

Well, I wouldn't want to go overboard on the value of good manners. They're important in themselves. (What Eric Lippert said.) I totally agree that someone who possesses average coding skills but is good at working with others can be *as good* as a superstar programmer who is average at working with others... I wouldn't necessarily say *better*.

But going towards the extremes, I don't think anybody would want a crap programmer whose only talent was projecting the right image, any more than they would want a stupendous programmer with such a revolting personality that nobody could work with them.

Also, I think that what you are talking about are 'social skills' which partially overlap 'good manners' but are a larger category. It's possible to have good manners and treat everyone with respect, but be short on the soft skills that you describe.

Fernanda Stickpot
Monday, June 30, 2003

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