- I wrote an article last week about why I take thank-you emails into account when hiring people.
- The article went viral, with tons of readers agreeing and disagreeing vehemently with my rule of thumb.
- Many of my points have been misrepresented on social media and other places.
- I’m writing this follow-up to clarify my thoughts.
I wrote an article last week about what I thought was a benign topic: sending a thank-you email after a job interview.
My article was simple. I explained the two reasons I take thank-you emails into account when hiring people.
One, not sending a follow-up often signals the person isn’t actually interested in the role. (Over the years, we’ve made offers to people who didn’t send a thank-you email, only to have the person turn down the job).
Two, in a hiring process that’s based on very few data points, it gives us the tiniest bit more data: The candidate is eager, organised, and well mannered enough to send the note.
Although many people agreed with these premises, I was surprised to see that my story also sparked a ton of outrage.
Few people have said that sending a thank-you email is a bad idea. But I do want to clarify a few things that are being misconstrued on social media and other places.
The chief concerns:
How could you make a “rule” about only hiring people who send thank-you emails?
To be very clear: The thank-you-note strategy is a rule of thumb. It is not a rule of law or an official policy.
Insider Inc. has hired – and continues to hire – people who have not written us thank-you notes. We extended such an offer last week, which was what gave me the idea to write the story.
Sending a thank-you note is an antiquated and pointless practice.
These days, an estimated 95% of all Insider Inc. editorial applicants send thank-you notes after interviewing, unprompted. That suggests most people I meet still find the practice relevant.
As for thank-you emails being pointless, we interview lots of qualified people for every position. If you knew every other candidate sent a thank-you note, wouldn’t you want to as well? And if you were really passionate about a job, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get it, including find an excuse to follow up (which is all a thank-you note really is)?
A thank-you email is purely for my ego.
The thank-you note is not about expressing gratitude or groveling. I don’t need to be thanked for my time.
Yes, we all refer to it as a “thank-you,” but let’s call it what it is: the “final pitch.” It’s a chance to show you have follow-through, remind me of your talents, and signal that you are still interested in the role.
Good thank-you notes are often tailored to reflect the specific conversation that was had during the interview – a great opportunity for a candidate to show that they are engaged and great listeners!
Sending a thank-you is not in the job description or application instructions.
Neither is being on time to an interview.
There are lots of unspoken conventions that have made their way into the hiring process. Being polite and engaged, I’d argue, is one of them.
An interview is a two-way street.
I couldn’t agree more. While we interview the candidate, the candidate is also interviewing us.
They are evaluating our company, the role, and their fit. Like any partnership, both people involved need to be excited and committed.
The thank-you email is a straightforward way to let us know the interest is still there before our final signal: the job offer! And of course when we are trying to recruit someone from one of our competitors, for example, we do our fair share of wooing.
After the application and interview, is a thank-you email really going to be the deciding factor?
Absolutely not. As I’ve said, the follow-up email is your final pitch.
Essentially, we are evaluating a person’s talent, qualifications, enthusiasm, and likely effectiveness in the role they’re applying for. A thank-you is one of many considerations.
Expecting a thank-you email is elitist because it does not consider that many people were not taught this skill.
Over the years we have interviewed and hired many people of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Creating and maintaining a diverse workplace is a top priority for us.
I have not observed that a person of any particular background does or does not send a thank-you but would welcome any broader research or data that might suggest otherwise.
What if you can’t find the interviewer’s email address?
Many people on LinkedIn have asked me this question. If it’s not online or you don’t have someone’s business card, email the person at the company who set up the interview and ask for the address.
(Or you can ask the interviewer at the end of the interview. Someone asked me mine yesterday.)
Why don’t you send candidates a notification to let them know they didn’t get the job, or thank them for applying for the job?
We try to do this as often as we can, but we haven’t figured out the best system at scale. We are working to improve the application and interview process at Insider all the time. I will be the first to admit that we can get better at this.
Why did you write the article?
I was hoping to be helpful, to shed some light on what hiring managers take into consideration when moving candidates along in the process.
The biggest factors we consider are a candidate’s talent and fit for the role.
I consider myself incredibly lucky to work with colleagues who have made Insider the second-largest general news brand in the world. All my colleagues have a wide variety of talents, but they have one thing in common: They love working for Insider and believe in what we’re building.
Thank you for reading!
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