I just ran across this recent post from Jessica Liebman at Business Insider: The Number One Mistake People I Interview Make These Days

She says it's the failure to send a thank you note. She goes on to say that not sending a thank you implies that you are NOT really interested in the job. The article includes a summary of what a thank you should include and a sample note.

Sounds familiar!

mattpalmer's picture

The only useful data point I can take from that article is that if you're interviewing with Jessica Liebman for a job at Business Insider, you want to send a thank-you note.  (Hopefully, your pre/post-interview online research you do on the people you're interviewing with will find that article and clue you in).  I see no larger viewpoint than that -- it's one person's stated preference.

While being polite, gracious, and doing everything you can to build and maintain relationships is going to help you do well in your job, going so far as to associate failing to send a thank-you note as meaning "I don't really want this job" is just going to wipe out 99% of your potential candidate pool, for what is a tiny part of the ability to do the job.

As a counter-data-point: from the half-dozen positions I've been involved in hiring for in the last six months, I've seen one follow-up note from an interview candidate, and to be blunt, it did more harm than good (it wasn't particularly well-written, and just made them come across as a bit of a slimeball).  Nobody I've given a thumbs-up to wrote a note, and I thought no better or worse for them for it.

buhlerar's picture

Are you saying you shouldn't write a thank you note?  Because you wouldn't want to work for a boss that thought it was important?

I don't think she's saying all managers should stand together in demanding thank you notes.  I think she's saying you should write one when you're interviewing.  In the "half-dozen" positions you've been "involved in" hiring, what would you have said if an otherwise qualified candidate showed no interest in the position (whether through thank you note or interview demeanor, etc.)?  Or if two candidates were similarly qualified, but one just seemed way more enthusiastic about the role?

Of course there will be times the hiring manager doesn't share Ms. Liebman's strong opinion.  And no one here would recommend writing one poorly.  But they're so easy to write well, and they really work.  I know when I was hired into my current role, one of the interviewers specifically mentioned my thank you notes as a factor in my favor.  Maybe I would have received the offer anyway -- or maybe I was neck-and-neck with the next guy.  Who knows?  Maybe I was the only candidate who sent a note.  But what if I was the only one who didn't?

Think risk-reward.  The upside is it might make all the difference in standing apart from the crowd and receiving an offer.  The downside is...what?

If you want to work for a boss that doesn't have high standards, you want to work for a boss that can't get you anywhere in the company.

I'm not sure if you've listened to the Interviewing Series -- Mark & Mike make a much better case than I would (again, from a candidate's perspective).

mattpalmer's picture

I wouldn't want to work for a boss that made such a big deal out of such a minor thing.  Saying that any candidate who didn't write a thank-you note mustn't be interested in the job also indicates rather a lack of judgment, or perhaps grounding in reality.

buhlerar's picture

...because who would want to work for a boss that made such a big deal about suits & ties, when the job doesn't require it?

Or give a dead-fish handshake because who would want to work for a boss who thought a good handshake said something about you?

Or refuse eye contact, or refuse to smile, or wear and extreme hair style, or answer your cell phone in the middle of the interview.  Or refuse to give the answer first, followed by your rationale, because my boss should listen to my entire thought process instead of wanting me to give a bottom line up front (BLUF)?

The purpose of the interview is to get an offer.  If your goal is to ferret out all of the bosses that might have idiosyncrasies you don't agree with, I think we can all agree it will significantly impact your success rate.  Maybe you'll be happier in the long run, but it will most likely be a VERY long run.

Not sending a thank you note by definition says you aren't interested in the job, because you know you should send one and if you refuse you are very clearly sending the message that you don't want to do whatever it takes.

mattpalmer's picture

I'm pretty stunned by the vehemence of your response, buhlerar... have I done something to personally offend you?

Perhaps I'm in the wrong forum area to be doing this, but my reaction to the cited article comes from a managerial effectiveness perspective. Completely excluding from consideration any candidate who doesn't "know" to write a thank-you note, when 99%+ of the workforce has probably never even been *told* about them, is a terribly ineffective way of hiring.  I think it falls foul of the "what you want vs what is effective" guideline.  Effective hiring is about finding the right person for the job, and making "wrote a thank-you note" a make-or-break criteria (for any job other than perhaps a social etiquette consultant) is not helping you find the right person.

Just to set the record straight: I am not anti-sending-thank-you-notes -- done right, I doubt they'll do any harm, and there's a good chance they'll provide *some* degree of benefit.

AppleJack's picture
Training Badge

It always amazes me that people don't understand that little details make a big difference.

Back when resumes were mailed, not emailed or uploaded, I remember advertising for a position and getting huge bags of resumes from the post office. The economy was weak, so we received hundreds and hundreds of resumes. To sort through them, we would look at the envelope, if the company name was misspelled or addressed with poor handwriting, they went directly into the trash without ever being opened. Once we had the pile down to a hundred or so, we'd open the envelopes - if there was a typo that could be seen at glance, the resume went into the trash. Only then would we start reading what was left.

Too many people take a very laid back approach to searching for a job and wonder why they have not been hired yet. Details matter, whether it is a typo or a thank you card. People's time is valuable, if someone took the time to interview you it is only common courtesy to thank them. Many people may not realize this, but all other things being equal the applicants that take the time to send a thank you are at a significant advantage over those who do not. 

buhlerar's picture

Rereading my posts, I agree my response was probably overkill.  And of course you've done nothing to offend me personally.

I still think you're undervaluing the importance of thank you notes.  And framing Ms. Liebman's article as more extreme than it was meant to be.  So I'd hate for anyone looking for job-hunting advice to be dissuaded from using them.

But my enthusiasm for the topic obviously came across as a personal attack, and I'm sorry for any offense I may have caused.

RDHodgson's picture

As an outside observer - it looks to me like things did get a bit heated here between the two of you. I can feel a lot of passion in both your posts - you both passionately state your beliefs about what is effective! :) Matt says it's ineffective to only accept candidates who send them, and that he wouldn;t want to work for someone with their priorities so out of whack, and Buhlerar, I think you took this to mean that Matt somehow undervalues the effectiveness of thank you notes as such? I think you're both rightly concerned about how effective thank you notes are, and you're just talking about different perspectives. Candidates should always send thank you notes - and employers *are* going to see that in a positive light. But to let that sway your decision too much is a problem - although it should be recognised for what it is... a thank you note isn't just a polite accessory, but evidence of what sort of candidate you have. I do agree with you, however, Matt, that this lady is wrong in how she sees thank you notes - she sees them as evidence of how seriously you're interested in the job (wrong way to interpret data), rather than as evidence that this person understands effective communication (right way to interpret data).

mattpalmer's picture

I'd say that's a pretty good summary of my position, rdhodgson... I won't attempt to speak for buhlerar directly, but you've captured my understanding of his position well, too.  No need for you to demonstrate your understanding of effective communication with thank-you notes (but keep sending them anyway! (grin))

lydiafre's picture

Personally, as a fly on the wall...

I think it was the [*eyeroll*] at the very beginning. If that had happened in a face to face conversation you could see how the rest of the interaction might become a tad defensive. Of course, face to face, Matt's natural charm and good nature would have easily headed off any misperceived ill will.

Even with beloved emoticons, writing just isn't expressive enough to let us ease the mood with a wordless  "good point" nod with raised eyebrow.


lydiafre's picture

I'd like to take a moment and express my gratitude for the time and attention you each gave my last post.

I feel very strongly that I would be great addition to this threadline and would appreciate the opportunity to communicate here long into the future.

Best of luck with your decision and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

My sincere thanks.



anglirich's picture

Had a phone interview with the company Hiring Mgr. for a upgrade in position along with more challenges and responsibilities last week. As soon as I hung up, I wrote a thank-you card and drove down to my local post office and put the card inside for early AM pick-up.

Two days later, Hiring Mgr. calls back and sets up a face to face for a Monday 4pm interview. I get a 1.5 hr tour of facility, meet the COO and then we sit down and discus what this role would entail.

I close with stating I want an offer, and I get the reply, "Well we have alot of candidates for this Procurement/Logistics position, but I will call your references you gave me and will get back to you by Friday this week.

Once again, I get home last night, and this time write a thank-you note to both the COO and the hiring mgr. restating my position and desire. Hop back in the car and drive down to the Post Office and drop off cards in mailbox around 9pm.

This morning, I get up and get dressed for "work" at my job for the last six months of creating a Job Search spreadsheet as MT/CT podcast recommends and tallying all my applications and responses and outcomes. For those keeping score at home, since I was furloughed in May I have compiled over 70 entrys to date. Some reulted in interviews, most others just Dear John letters.

Well, this afternoon during my one hour lunch break, the Hiring Mgr. calls and makes me an OFFER! I exclaimed, That's great and I look forward to becoming part of the team!

His words to me were...yeah, I called the first four of your references, and they were all good, plus your enthusiasm for the position along with the research you did on company showed us we want you as part of team. But what really was the icing on the cake was his statement that the cards I sent were a "real nice touch"; if you can exuberate that kind of enthusiams in your interview, I know you will take care of our customers in the same way". 

So after that phone call, I went home to be greeted by the offer via email and I did it it again...I sent ANOTHER thank-you note.

They really do work hand in hand with everything else Mark & Mike and Wendy have taught us.


wendii's picture
Admin Role Badge

Thank you for sharing RED - we're so glad that you got the outcome we'd all want for you.  And as Mark always says, credit goes to the one in the ring.  We might have suggested it, but you're the one who did it!

Best regards,

pucciot's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

The short article certainly described how this manager feels about the Thank You Note.

But, they did not say that the Thank You note was a MUST.

They did say that without one the candidate's chances would be less.
"-There is a much higher shot I'll forget about you"

In the Manager Tools method of Hiring, we are always ways looking for reasons to say No.


If the Thank You note is a MUST, then its absence would be a reason to say No, automatically.

If I said NO to every candidate that didn't send a Thank You note, I would have hired very few people over the years.


The Thank You note definitely shows as a "weaker vs stronger" candidate, but I don't think it is a clear disqualifier.