Should you send a thank you after an interview?

Interview Advice

 

A few weeks ago, I received a DM from an American follower: “I’m advising someone on their job hunt and was shocked that they didn’t send a thank you message after their interview. Do you not do that over here?”

I replied that it’s not so common – I’ve always found it to be a very American thing to do, but didn’t think it was done in the UK. But as you know, I always like to back up my advice, so I set out to find out how people felt about thank you messages after interviews.

I started off on Facebook, where I asked

“British friends: have you ever sent a thank you note/email following an interview?”

Here are some of the replies:

“Only when I didn’t get the job but the feedback was good and I wanted them to know I’d love to be considered in future!”

Yup! I came second in a round of interviews and was very disappointed but still had such a great interview day so I emailed to thank them for the opportunity and for a great day!

So it looked like a fair few people email after their interview feedback – I always reply to rejection emails as well as acceptance. However, there were two people who said that they email after the interview as well, before the feedback: My top (and only) interview tip is when they ask if you have any questions at the end to ask about the business’ (or departments) long and short term goals. Then I email them the next day thanking them for their time and telling them how I think I can help move towards achieving their goals – so reaffirm the skills I have that they need. I usually do this the day of or one day later so they haven’t forgotten me.”

By the way, if you want more advice on what to ask in interviews, I have some basic questions to ask in my Interviews with a Bang post, as well as my How to Turn The Tables in an Interview post.

I felt at this point it was quite 50/50 and had no clear outcome as to whether it’s acceptable to send a thank you message after an interview. So I headed to LinkedIn.

Business owner: I don’t expect letters, but after I’ve interviewed someone and emailed to say they haven’t got the job, I’m always a little surprised if I don’t get a reply. There are lots of reasons why someone might not be right for the job at that time, and it seems a little discourteous to not bother to respond – you never know, I might have been about to recommend them to someone else. Manners, Charlotte – it’s about good manners!”

I think we can see that after the feedback it’s absolutely essential to send some kind of reply. If an interviewer doesn’t give detailed feedback or noting why you didn’t get the job, they might be up for sharing these details with you if you ask for them.

I asked her about messages sent before feedback is given and she replied: I think that would feel a little pushy…there might be other candidates we’re seeing and we may not have come to a decision yet. So it puts us in an awkward position, and you know how us Brits don’t like awkward conversations! However, to follow up after they’ve had the email about whether or not they have the job is good. Always happy to give feedback.

I have to admit, this was my gut feeling. If there’s something pressing I want to follow up on from the interview, it may feel natural to send an email, but as a strong character in myself, I am mindful not to be too pushy – sometimes an email after an interview may be seen like this.

A Global Recruiter commented: My opinion, as a Brit who has worked in the States for a while – I accept cards and emails as a cultural phenomenon in the US, however, the only time it adds value to someone’s candidacy is when it contents speak directly to a topic of discussion or ads to ‘the picture’ of them- I struggle to see the value of simple thank you cards or email, void of substance.

An Operations Manager, however, said that she opens up the opportunity for further discussion: I always like a follow up but definitely email rather than a letter. Email opens you up for further conversation if needed whereas I would feel that a letter was probably only done for effect. If we’ve got a group of applicants I directly ask people to get in touch via email over the next few days as I think extra questions or feelings can come up post interview that it’s helpful to address early on, especially from our side so we can be aware of what they’re thinking while we’re making our decisions.”

I’ve certainly been in the situation that I remember something I wanted to ask when coming away from an interview. I’ve previously waited to see what the feedback was, and if positive, asked then. However, having the opportunity to ask further questions being encouraged by the interview is a great idea.

Lastly, one other business owner was very positive about thank you emails: We have received a thank you email. We really appreciated the gesture and it reinforced our positive feelings about them as a genuine and thoughtful person.”

A mixed bag from LinkedIn. As above, we can safely say yes to thank you emails after feedback, but I think we have to be careful with thank you emails after interviews. If there is a clear reason (such as to ask a question, or follow up on a point – maybe send a link “here’s the link to the article I mentioned”) then it would be OK. But sending a thank you note for the sake of it seems to be frowned upon.

Lastly, I headed over to Twitter to do two polls.

They sadly didn’t get so many votes, but the results were interesting:

The majority of people had never sent thank you emails, with the fewest sending them after feedback.

BUT 45% (of 11 people…) feel it would be good manners…closely followed by 37% (of 11 people) who felt it would be a bit desperate.

What can we take away from this?

It seems that there is no hard and fast rule to this. However, this is the advice I would give based on the above:

  1. Always reply to feedback emails, negative as well as positive. Ask for further feedback if need be.
  2. Don’t send thank you messages after interviews just to say thank you without any other purpose.
  3. Use the follow up email to ask further questions or add to something discussed in the interview.

OK, over to you – what do you think about this? Have you ever sent a thank you email after an interview?

 

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