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Tip of the Week: Uh, No Thanks…

September 11, 2023, The Association

This week we’ve got some food for thought on the traditionally obligatory post-interview handwritten thank-you note.

The post-interview, hand-written thank you note…

“Some people think they are an absolute necessity for proper etiquette and relationship-building, while others believe they are an outdated relic of ancient times,” shares nonprofit expert and social justice warrior Vu Le in a recent blog post.

While it’s true that a recent LinkedIn poll revealed that a full 64% of Linked members send post-interview thank-you notes, the practice is worth a closer look:

  • “Texts, emails, phone calls, videos, voicemail or verbal expressions by themselves are sufficient,” shares Vu. What is behind the idea that written communication is somehow superior? And why should candidates be expected to write a note, but hiring managers are not expected to thank interviewees for their time and interest?
  • Instead of expecting thank-you notes, “Employers should compensate for candidates’ time spent in multiple rounds of interviews,” says Vu. And what about time spent creating presentations, projects and other sample work as part of the hiring process?
  • Vu also encourages HR teams to be thoughtful about accessibility. “Blind people or people with low-vision,” he writes, “may have challenges reading or writing” a note, and may prefer a phone call or text.
  • “Always consider the equity implications,” adds Vu. “People may not have the time or resources to sit down and compose heartfelt letters when they’re working multiple jobs trying to survive.”

Please note that if you are a candidate and enjoy writing follow-up thank-you notes, Vu states that there’s no reason not to continue to do so. You may wish to use the opportunity to offer follow-up thoughts, and hiring managers say it can help them remember who you are.

Complications arise, as LinkedIn’s Andrew Seaman quoted strategist Rhona Barnett-Pierce in his recent article, when employers expect hand-written thank-yous. “Hiring Managers and recruiters should not use thank you notes as selection criteria,” states Barnett-Pierce. “I’ve sat through a few debriefs with hiring teams where thank you notes became one more way to introduce bias into the process. So although there’s nothing wrong with thank you notes after interviews, there’s a TON wrong with mandating/expecting them.”

As a potential candidate, what are your thoughts around hand-written thank-you notes? What are your organization’s expectations and norms around this process?

More Vu? We’re in luck. He’ll be delivering the keynote, Being Human: Self-Care During a Time of Relentless Crises, at The Annual Conference in Portland this November.

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