Gratitude is never unwelcome. Saying a sincere ‘thank you’ to someone who’s done something for you just feels good. And being thanked for something you’ve done feels equally nice.
When you’re a candidate involved in a hiring process, showing appreciation is critical. It’s not just meaningless lip-service, either. Whether an external recruiter or a hiring manager with a company you want to work for, it’s an investment of time (and therefore money) when someone meets with you. It’s good professional etiquette to acknowledge that.
Why send a thank you note?
As a simple rule of thumb, if someone has spent 30 minutes or more with you – on the phone, in a virtual meeting, or in person – that’s a contact worth nurturing. A short and simple thank you is a great way to do that.
There are some who say that a handwritten note, in the mail, is the best way to do this. I disagree, but that’s not a hill I’m going to die on. If you really want to show off your handwriting and postage-affixing skills, have at it. There’s no downside, I just don’t see the upside that most people claim. In my view, a brief email is perfectly acceptable in 2021. Email is the default mode of business communication, and a thank you note like this is business.
Notes like this are never long (because frankly, if they are, they probably won’t get read), so the email might be two paragraphs, or even just one. There are three elements to a good thank you note following up after an interview:
Thank you #1
Whatever happened in the meeting (e.g. that they took the time to interview you), thank them for it here, in one or two sentences.
Why I’m thanking you
Give a reason or two why the meeting was uniquely valuable to you. Be as specific as you can.
Thank you #2
Yes, it’s repetitive. Do it anyway, because it’s a good way to prompt for a next step, if there is one (e.g. thanking them in advance for introducing you to someone they said they would).
On the receiving end, this note serves a few purposes. Speaking as a recruiter, it keeps you in my mind; it’s another touchpoint to foster a relationship. It shows me that you understand professional courtesies and etiquette, important qualities in any employee. And – I confess, on more than one occasion when things have been particularly busy – notes like this have served as a reminder to take an action I may have forgotten (passing a candidate on to meet with someone else, for example). Just as significantly, I notice when I don’t get them. If I’m evaluating multiple candidates for a single position, it can make a difference.
You almost certainly won’t get a reply, and that’s fine (thanking someone for a thank-you note is weird, and risks touching off a never-ending feedback loop of thank you notes bouncing back and forth). Send one anyway, know that they’re being noticed and appreciated, and know that you’ve differentiated yourself from the people who don’t send them.
See you again soon.