Do We Really Need Thank You Letters ?

Every single advise column about nailing an interview mentions the ‘Thank You Note‘. From Monster to CareerBuilder, LinkedIn to GlassDoor, the importance of the thank you letter is proclaimed as an essential, almost a mandatory step, for any candidate if he or she wants to get the job. Of course, like many things in life, I thought this was just a conventional routine perpetrated by career gurus and HR managers who simply liked receiving written letters of gratitude from people they, most likely, will never meet after the initial interview. But when I saw that even Lifehacker posted an article yesterday which not only promoted the advantages of Thank You letters but also listed the strategies to make them highly effective, I began to think if there was some possibility of truth to the legend of Thank You letters. Which brings me to today’s post.

Do we really need Thank You letters, especially in our digital age ? Say, You are attending an interview. Does the interviewer really expects a thank you note from you or are you supposed to send it just to make sure that you are not the only person to not send the thank you note and thereby possibly miss out on the job opportunity? Often times, you are interviewed by a panel of people, of varying gender, so am I to understand that I should be sending thank you notes for each and every person in that panel – which would require remembering their names, a daunting task by itself, their email addresses and something interesting rom our discussion to add a personal touch to the thank you letter. How does any of that relate to my ability to write software or design a bridge or fabricate a microchip ? Also, if every interviewee sends a thank you letter, doesn’t that mean the advantage of the letter is lost for all candidates?

I’ll agree that, in some cases, a short email expressing gratitude for an interview seems fair, even strategic to an extent. I have personally sent thank you emails a couple of times. But a more puzzling aspect of this, is the need to send a physical mailed thank you note. This does not make much sense to me. I thought we were moving away snail mails. Any medium to major sized company would be interviewing many candidates for lots of positions everyday. Is it considered normal in the hiring world to have the corporate mail box overwhelmed on a daily basis with hundreds of thank you letters? Sometimes, there are panel interviews which means the number of thank you letters will increase by a multiple of the interviewers in the panel. I have never been an HR person, but if I receive that many thank you letters everyday, I would be more annoyed at them than being impressed.

Let me be clear, I am not saying the thank you notes are not useful. I can understand the emotional connection they can create between the interviewer and the interviewee after an interview, which can act as a reinforcement to the interviewed’s attitude and confidence. But it seems to me that this would be pertinent for executive jobs, manager positions or jobs that require deeper skill set in public relations, like Ad agencies or artists where establishing relationships is key. But  honestly I don’t see how it would relate to a person applying for a technical jobs that requires creative and problem solving abilities.

I had already established in the first paragraph, rather passively, that I am lingering by the conclusion that I may have completely missunderstood the idea behind thank you notes, so I would appreciate some clarification for you guys.

Is it a standard procedure to send thank you letters after every interview ?
Do you send thank you letters every time you have an interview ?
Have you ever sent thank you letters, for anything ?


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3 thoughts on “Do We Really Need Thank You Letters ?

  1. An interview is for both the candidate and the company. Will the company send me a thank you note. I think these are measures which HR and PR create to torture people. But may be it can act like a swing vote who knows.This makes people from rational being to luck believers. Moodanambikai.

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