What’s the Deal With Thank You Notes?

career woman writing a thank you note after an interview

One piece of advice we almost always give candidates after an interview is to send a thank you note. We don’t give this advice casually – we think it’s a powerful step in the job process and does actually help candidates get offers. Many of us have a thank you note on our desk or saved in a folder in our email inbox that made a big impression on us.

However, you might have heard some controversy over thank you notes in recent years, like the backlash to this article, where the author claims she only hires candidates who send thank you notes. Many people, including other hiring managers, criticized this approach, pointing out that it excludes candidates from other cultures or those who come from non-corporate environments, where writing a thank you note isn’t common practice or advised. In this context, thank you notes can be elitist and exclusionary.

We acknowledge there are many unspoken expectations around thank you notes, most notably that they play into a privileged, dominant culture. As we do the work required to change outdated workplace assumptions around “professionalism,” we want to give our candidates – and you! – our best advice on handling thank you notes.

Why Send One?

A thank you note is one of those unspoken expectations of the white-collar world – like a firm handshake, a business casual dress code, and exchanging business cards at networking events. It’s not that everyone does it – in fact, one article claims just 26% of candidates write thank you notes – but some hiring managers put a lot of weight into whether a candidate writes one.

In general, we think a thank you note is a great idea. And, although its name suggests gratitude, a thank you note often serves as 1) a reminder to the interviewer of why they are considering you for a role 2) a chance to follow up on any questions you think you didn’t nail 3) an opportunity to reiterate your interest and enthusiasm for a role (which companies love, by the way).

Although there is a certain amount of elitism and centering of an exclusionary view of professionalism, a thank you note done correctly can help you get a job.

How to Do It Right

Generally, you should write a thank you note within 24 hours of the interview, while it’s still fresh in your mind and you’re top of mind for the interviewer(s), too. If you interviewed with more than one person, you can send out one thank you note addressed to everyone, unless you feel it would benefit you to single out someone for an individual note. To make sure you have the correct spelling and titles, ask for a business card! Or double-check it online.

An email is a great and perfectly acceptable way to send a thank you message. Unless you feel there is some strong benefit to writing and mailing a card – maybe you saw other notes on the interviewer’s desk, for example, or have excellent penmanship – we don’t advocate for handwritten notes. Sometimes, they don’t arrive until after the hiring decision has been made.

Before you send a thank you note, especially if you haven’t written one before, run it by another person or two for grammar and content edits. Recruiters at Boly:Welch always ask candidates to send them a draft of the note to make sure the candidate is making the best possible impression. We view thank you notes like resumes, cover letters, and scheduling emails – as unofficial writing samples.

A good rule of thumb: if you want the job, you should write a thank you note.

What to Say

You want the note to be simple, sincere, specific, and restate your interest in the job. Although you can start with a template, you should avoid copying and pasting. Authenticity is key. Here is an example:

Sample:

Dear [Interviewer’s Name],

[Opening line thanking them.] [Personalized detail about how you enjoyed meeting them or the team, seeing the office, hearing about the role, etc.] [Sentence that follows up on discussions you had, and shows your interest in the company and position. Example: taking another stab at an interview answer you don’t think you nailed, providing an idea, or it could even reference something lighter — like that you loved the regular team lunch spot or that you subscribed to a podcast the hiring manager recommended. Make it about something you genuinely remember or enjoyed about your interview – remember, sincere and specific!]

[Sentence about how excited you are to hear from them, which also sets you up to send a follow-up email later.] [Closing sentence that thanks them again, and offers to provide further information.]

Best,
[Your Name]

In Practice:

Dear Cory,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me this morning about your new Executive Assistant role. [Really Great Company] seems like a wonderful place to work — and not just because you mentioned some summer happy hours and walks! I especially enjoyed hearing about your own experience at [Really Great Company] and how you’ve been able to grow your role.

From what you’ve told me about [Really Great Company] and its team-oriented, high-accountability culture, I think my background and experience would allow me to transition seamlessly. My track record supporting the COO at [Current Organization] and President at [Previous Employer] will help me to learn the team dynamics quickly and manage your busy travel schedule. I know I’d be able to efficiently streamline your inbox and calendar so you can put more energy toward expanding into the new market you mentioned.

Thanks again for your time. Please let me know if there’s any other information you need from me to move the process forward.

Best,
Amy

P.S. Since you mentioned that podcast, I’ve gotten a chance to listen to it and loved it!

Good luck – and thank you for your time!