3 Times It’s Totally Not Okay to Send a Thank-You Note After the Interview

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
June 21, 2024 at 1:50AM UTC

“Conventional wisdom says you should always send a thank-you note after an interview,” Sarah Parsons recently wrote in the Fairygodboss community feed. “I think they’re a waste of your time. I don’t know of a single hiring manager who has changed a hiring decision based on receiving or not receiving a thank you note. If, and only if, you have a follow-up thought to the conversation or helpful article to share, then, yes, send an email. The only reason to communicate is if you have additional value to provide.”

This led to a lively debate about sending thank-you notes after a job interview. Traditional wisdom says that this is the polite thing to do — something that shows your interest in the role and gratitude for the opportunity. Most Fairygodboss'ers disagreed with the original poster, aligning themselves with convention. But others sided with Parsons, saying that the convention wasn’t necessary or even useful 100% of the time.

The consensus suggested that these are three times you don’t need to send a thank-you note.

1. You have no interest in the job.

“I always send thank you notes unless I'm genuinely not interested in continuing the interview process,” Natalia wrote.

Not sending a thank-you note is a clear signal that you’re not interested in the role — and that you’re bowing out so as not to waste the hiring manager and employer’s time (or your own). 

Still, you should be certain that you absolutely have zero interest in the job before you take this road. Otherwise, you could be burning a bridge.

2. The interviewer was rude to you or the company isn’t a good fit.

“I sent a thank you note and it actually did make a difference, but I regret sending it now because I hate the job,” an anonymous professional said. “I would say don't send a note unless you're absolutely sure you want to work there.”

In some cases, the interviewer might be actively rude to you, in which case you probably shouldn’t send a thank-you note. 

Or, you might see that the company just isn’t a good fit for you. If you don’t want them to offer you the job, then why send a thank-you note?

3. The company culture isn’t one that encourages the practice.

“It’s wise to consider hiring manager personality, company culture, the job applying for and geographic location when considering how to frame your follow-up communication,” Parsons added to her original post. “There will be different weights placed on how, when, and what you communicate after an interview based on those factors.”

It IS important to consider the company culture when deciding whether to send a thank-you note. In some cases, it might not be standard practice. 

“I work in a fast-paced tech environment with folks that care more about the unit of work than they do about relationships/soft skills,” an anonymous poster wrote. “I anticipate that it wouldn’t go very far here. Even if one person in HR cared, it wouldn’t be representative of the rest of the culture.”

Fairygodbosser Anxhela agreed. “When I first came to the US, almost three years ago I was actually surprised by this etiquette,” she said. “In Europe, it is not advised to send a thank you message to the recruiter or hiring manager.”

“We often pass over anyone who sends a card, paper or email,” added anonymous. “We see them as ones trying to brown nose and butter up the competition.”

When you should follow up after the interview.

Still, most professionals who joined the conversation see the value in thank-you notes. 

“A thank you note is extremely necessary after an interview and the opportunity to confirm that you have correctly understood the position and its key features,” Iris wrote. “This is always how I got the job.”

“A thank you note may not make me hire someone, but if they don't send one, it absolutely will make me question my decision if I had them on my top candidate list,” Eva Steortz agreed. “Follow-up is everything as is showing gratitude and respect for someone taking time to spend with you.”

“I can tell you as a recruiter that a lot of my hiring managers won't extend an offer to someone who doesn't follow up after the interview,” added Sarah Bojorquez. “It shows a lack of follow-through (and manners).”

At the end of the day, most posters agreed that if you do send a thank-you note, you should add real value to your candidacy.

“I had someone once hand me a handwritten thank you note before they even left the interview. Obviously pre-written, beyond generic, 100% proforma and for all those reasons, ineffective (or worse),” anonymous wrote. “A well-written email followed on the same or very next day can, however, land well.  I won't count it against someone for not sending one but it may give them an edge if they do and the note includes something of value, like a follow-up to a question, an on-point article or an added point of interest.”

“Be polite and show gratitude, but also ADD VALUE by sending an additional thought about something from the interview or find a relevant article or statistic,” wrote Cheryl Magen. “Show that you will go the extra mile and that may turn a no into a maybe or a maybe into a yes.”

About the Career Expert:

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket and The Haven.

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