Candidates frequently ask our Texas legal recruiters whether to send thank you notes after an interview. If so, how and when? The question has sometimes vexed us, given the vast changes the information age has brought to the workplace. Not all that long ago, law school graduates were taught to send out hard copies of their resumes on high quality “resume paper” and to always follow up with a note handwritten in black ink on Crane’s stationery.
These days candidates are usually required to submit a resume by email or upload their resume to a specific online application site. Candidates who send a hard copy resume through snail mail risk being seen as antiquated and out of touch – begging the question: how does that affect the business etiquette practice of the follow up thank you?
We took an informal poll among our team of legal recruiters and clients and found some widely divergent opinions – and a spirited, entertaining discussion. So, we decided the issue deserved some prominent consideration.
To Send Or Not?
Most in-house and law firm hiring attorneys agree that receiving a thank you note from a candidate will not affect the ultimate decision to hire that person, but overwhelmingly, the majority prefer it and believe that the practice makes a good impression. A few employers recalled getting sincere, thoughtful notes that they remembered long after. Although one or two said they don’t pay attention to receiving thank you notes at all, one said she would decline a candidate who failed to send one.
Our Bottom Line: It doesn’t hurt and might help, so send a thank you!
A thank you note is not expected after second or third meetings with the same people, only after the first such interview. Anything more would likely be considered overkill.
If your substantive interview is by video conference, consider it the same as an “in-person” interview and follow the same guidelines.
A thank you note is not generally expected or required following an initial telephone interview, but it can be helpful to keep the process moving. It should be very brief – one or two sentences – simply thanking the interviewer for his or her time and stating that you look forward to next steps.
How to Send
Although a few responses indicate prospective employers like handwritten notes and appreciate the extra time and effort they take, the vast majority of those we polled indicated that a thank you note via email is generally preferred as a practical matter – Usually for promptness. Some in-house mailrooms may take an additional two or three days to route internal mail, and a hiring decision may already have been made.
When to Send
A thank you email should be sent the same day as the interview or the following day, while your meeting with the interviewer is still fresh in their mind and before a hiring decision is made.
What to Say
Each thank you note should be personalized and relate back in some way to the conversation you had with the interviewer: Something that was discussed, why you would be a good fit for the job, how you would make a unique contribution, and aspect of the job that is particularly appealing to you, or something along those lines.
Group Thank You Versus Individual Ones
If you met with multiple people, should you send a group note or message them all together or send individual thank yous? That depends: If the discussion was strictly as a group with the same people, it’s probably fine to address that same group with a single thank you acknowledgement. However, If you met multiple people individually and had more individual conversations send separate emails and change the message. One of our internal hiring authorities cited group emails thanking multiple people at one time as one of her pet peeves, so better to lean on the side of individual ones.