Thanks for the interview!
August 7, 2008 6:00 PM   Subscribe

How soon after a job interview should I send a thank-you note?

I have a few job interviews lined up in the coming weeks (including one for what could be a dream job). Because I am forgetful, and because at least one of them is a significant commute from my home, I'd like to send a thank-you note as soon as I leave the interview -- have the envelope stamped and ready to mail, etc. Would receiving a thank-you note within a few days of the interview appear overeager?

Additionally, a few of the positions are in corporate settings. Obviously I don't want to send any thank-you notes with colorful sayings on them (to wit: "People as nice as you are tend to be mentally incapacitated or on ecstacy, but you're just REALLY REALLY NICE" -- yes, this is a real card). Would a letterpress card with a cute animal or other insignia on the front be considered appropriate, or should I go with as plain a card as possible?
posted by pxe2000 to Work & Money (19 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Er, sending a card within a few hours, that would be received within 2-3 days of the interview. Oops...
posted by pxe2000 at 6:00 PM on August 7, 2008

No, I think immediately is the way to go. Mention something that will remind them of you, so it's personalized. Go classy--clean lines and classic typeface. No cute animals! (Unless there is something about the job that I am missing that lends itself to that.)
posted by thebrokedown at 6:07 PM on August 7, 2008

Under no circumstances should you do anything cute. Your resume and interview should be all they need to make a decision to hire you.

I would a formal thank you note so that the note will arrive the following week, should you decide to mail one.
posted by Pants! at 6:08 PM on August 7, 2008

Best answer: In the mail the same day or next day if it's an afternoon interview. A separate note with different wording to each person you met. Ask for their business cards at some point during the interview so you get names and titles correct. Absolutely no cute animals. No flowers. Not even the fold-over cards that say "thank you" on the front. Get yourself some flat cards with your name engraved or printed by thermography (raised letters) in a relatively tame color and font.

I got a thank-you note yesterday that came on a flowered card in a pink envelope and the candidate went to the bottom of my list. I like pink and flowers - but it's a job interview, not a tea party.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:09 PM on August 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

Immediately is best, but a delay of a couple days is understandable for mailed thank-yous. (And also might serve as a good way to bring up your name in case they've moved onto the next round of interviews or are still considering.) Avoid cutesy.
posted by greenland at 6:10 PM on August 7, 2008

I used to give them to the receptionist to deliver to the people who had just interviewed me on my way out the door. I wrote out everything but the name (if I didn't know their name beforehand), then as soon as I was done I'd put their names on them.

Save a stamp!
posted by matty at 6:14 PM on August 7, 2008

Oh, matty, really? Did that work? Because, honestly, if our receptionist brought me a card as soon as you left, I would not be impressed by your planning but pretty turned off by the fact that you did not want to put any actual thought into the content of the note. [Reminds me a bit of those cards they market to parents of five-year-olds: Dear ____: Thank you for the ____. I really like it. Love, ______. Gives Miss Manners an aneurysm.]
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:17 PM on August 7, 2008

Sweetie Darlilng - I should clarify that I always added a personal slant to each written out card - I even obsessed enough to the point of making sure I used the same pen so the writing wouldn't look like it was done at different times (i.e. different colors of ink would be 'bad'. Yes the approach you're envisioning would be a turn-off for anyone - but you have to always put some personality into what you do.

After the interview it's not hard to excuse yourself to the restroom and make your modifications.

I've interviewed for two jobs since leaving the Navy. I've gotten both of them (not all due to the cards of course... LOL).
posted by matty at 6:22 PM on August 7, 2008

More food for thought... I work for a 'large' consulting firm now, with a lot of different teams responsible for their own hiring. On my current team, we basically hold a meeting as soon as we're done interviewing the potential new hire - 8 times out of 10 the decision is made before you'll ever have time to submit a thank you note. Don't let that stop you though - it's a wise practice nonetheless.
posted by matty at 6:27 PM on August 7, 2008

Best answer: Try a thank-you email (instead of snail mail) after the interview (the next day is good). Make sure you get a business card from the person who interviewed you (so you have their email); and cc the human resources person or anyone else who was part of the interview process. Here are the old standby lines I used to use:

Dear _________:

Just a quick note to thank you for taking the time to meet with me yesterday.

I remain enthusiastic about coming on board at ___________(company name), and after learning more about the position feel I have just the right background and qualifications for the job.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

posted by ornate insect at 6:30 PM on August 7, 2008 [18 favorites]

It's a nice touch - but not going to change my mind about a candidate in any way.
posted by jopreacher at 6:32 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

matty, as soon as I hit Post I realized how snarky that sounded, and I didn't really mean it to be - sorry about that. I was curious about the approach than anything else, and I appreciate the answer!
posted by Sweetie Darling at 6:40 PM on August 7, 2008

First make sure that thank-you cards are standard and expected in your area. I work in biotech, where they are not, and when I received one during our last hiring phase, it really cemented my poor impression of that candidate. It's a job interview, not a freakin' baby shower, you dingbat.

An email, sent that evening or the following morning, would be appropriate for just about any field, I think. It's less trying-too-hard plus it gives them an easy way to contact you (sometimes, typing in an email address or even picking up the phone is just too much effort for a busy manager, who may well have misplaced your business card and resumé by then anyway). Good luck in the job hunt!
posted by Quietgal at 6:49 PM on August 7, 2008

I cannot fathom being offended by a professional thank you note.

Send them as soon as you can. An email follow up is fine, but genuine thank you notes cut through the clutter that is email.
posted by 26.2 at 9:09 PM on August 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you like the job, send a plain thank you note via postal mail the same day. Unless you drop it in a mailbox a LONG way away, they'll generally receive the note the next day. You should assume they'll make decision within a few days of interviewing you, so there's no sense waiting until the next week.

Don't pre-write the note unless it's really generic. It's better to customize it based on how the interview goes. The key thing is to put yourself back in the mind of the hiring manager. E-mail is too easy and so is dropping a note on your way out, which seems perfunctory rather than appreciative. Postal mail is most effective because it takes some effort to send.

Lastly, what is it with "trying too hard?" You don't want to hire people who want the job? That's just weird.
posted by cnc at 9:14 PM on August 7, 2008

As to the delay, for a hand-written note I would send it the very next day. A prewritten card is just weird and cheesy, and takes any potential value out of the handwritten note itself. The next day is natural. A few days later is "Was he too busy or just lazy?" To be honest I would echo what others have said and urge you to simply focus on nailing the actual interview itself, as that is what will really get you the job.

Regarding the hand written note itself, I think it depends on the field. I recently interviewed for a few jobs in the technology and science sectors, and I think they would have found a hand written note quite unusual, even quaint. It conveys an air of "I might not be qualified, but I spent a lot of time writing this note and picking out a card." The majority of communication with my potential employers was done by email, and that was how I sent my thank you note. Use the note not only as a thank you, but to follow up on positive parts of the interview and summarize your thoughts and what you learned from the opportunity. Show you were paying attention and mention something specific. In another setting or part of the country, where traditional formalities still hold sway, I imagine a hand written note would still be appreciated.
posted by sophist at 10:03 PM on August 7, 2008

In my field (software), a follow up email to the people who interviewed you and have it mention something specific about your interview would help a borderline candidate. Send it maybe a few hours after the interview, the next day at the latest. I find it amazing how many people don't bother.

Snail mail is so uncommon that it won't even be picked up from the mailroom or whatever, and by the time it's arrived, the decision has already been made.
posted by meowzilla at 12:04 AM on August 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Where I am (UK) this whole concept would be seen as incredibly bizarre. I have recruited many many people over the years and never once received a "thank you" card. A follow-up call to the recruitment team to find out how the interview went and to check when you would have a decision, fine. But not a card or letter. Perhaps it is different in other cultures.
posted by Lleyam at 7:58 AM on August 8, 2008

Best answer: I nth the modest handwritten card with polite, professional, non-cutesy thank you, ideally with a quick acknowledgement (as in ornate insect's example) that you are still enthusiastic and believe you're a good fit for the position after having learned more during the interview. If handwriting, make an effort to write neatly. Thing is, it's not like what you write will make a huge difference, unless it's weird or awkward or inappropriate, which would make it a negative, or if you are the only candidate NOT to send a note, in which case you look like you don't care in comparison. So, a token gesture, but one to be done gracefully.

Honestly, matty's experience notwithstanding, I feel (as someone who has done many interviews over the years) leaving it on your way out of the building might come across presumptous / obsessive to some. A day or two later by snail mail or email is fine. If they've made their hiring decision same day, chances are your card wouldn't make a difference one way or the other, and you won't suffer by comparison with other's notes' relative timeliness, since no note would have been there when the decision was made.

If sending a note by email be doubly-, triply-sure it's free of typos - and not sent from an email account with a potentially cutesy or embarrassing email address (e.g. "" would put most interviewers off) or with an automatic signature that has anything (quotes from rock bands, cult movies, or genre novels) that might be off-putting to a stranger.
posted by aught at 8:55 AM on August 8, 2008

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