Q: I was told that I should send a thank-you note after every interview, even if I am not interested. I am doing a lot of informational interviewing and writing a thank-you note after every interview would be a time-consuming task. If someone meets with me and I have no desire to work with them or that company, I still thank them? That seems wasteful. I have a bet with my wife about this. Your thoughts are important since I am either winning or losing this bet based on your response.
A: The world is full of “gray.” Gray areas are those ambiguous areas where the rules or guidelines are fuzzy or even confusing. This is not one of those areas!
I think you are buying your wife dinner. She wins and this is not even a remotely gray area.
If another person meets with you (live, via the phone or through a video conference), you send a note of thanks. The note of thanks does not have to be several pages. It can be via email, or even snail mail or text. I am not selective in how it is sent, but it needs to be sent.
In my world, the following requires a note of thanks:
- A face-to-face interview (for sure!), even if you are not interested in the role or the company
- A telephone interview of any sort
- A conversation about your career or your resume
- A job rejection (“Thanks for applying we have hired someone else” or “We don’t think your background is ideal so we are going to continue to interview other candidates”)
We live in a small world. One day, at another time in your life, you may encounter this person or this company. You might encounter them in a work situation, five years from now. You may encounter them as your next-door neighbor. You may encounter them on Match.com. I have run into candidates, colleagues, former co-workers, fellow alums or neighbors in the most unlikely places. It is always smart to leave a positive impression on those with whom we have interacted. Some will disagree that those rejected for a job should send a note of thanks. If a rejected candidate sends a gracious and appropriate thank-you note, we will often keep them in mind for other roles. This happens more often than you would expect.
Give a thank-you note a bit of thought. A generic thank-you note is fine but a thoughtful thank-you note is better. “Thanks for meeting me at Panera last Thursday, June 7th. I appreciate you battling the driving rain that morning. Your critique of my resume was helpful and I plan to incorporate your recommendations.”
Manners matter. I thank my mother for forcing me to send thank-you notes as a child. It has stuck with me many years later!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.