When You Should (or Shouldn’t) Send Interview Thank-You Notes

Thank you notes are a great way to follow up on a job interview, but should you always send one?
Conventional wisdom says you should, and that’s not a bad way to operate. Typically, there’s nothing wrong with sending a note or email thanking the interviewer for taking the time to chat. Some think handwritten notes show an elevated level of care and consideration; the natural downside is they need to be sent via mail, and your note may arrive after a hiring manager has already made up their mind about you.
Michael Neece, CEO at InterviewMastery.com, tells CNBC: “Hiring managers expect [a thank you] immediately after the interview. Otherwise, they’ll conclude you are not interested.”

Who Gets The Note?

Many tech interviews are conducted by panels. In those cases, who should get the thank you note?
An article by U.S. News suggests avoiding sending the same note to multiple people. Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University, tells the publication: “Multiple interviewers in the same company will often compare notes, so be sure [thank you notes] are customized.”
If you have the email of the person leading the interview, feel free to email them a succinct note of appreciation after the fact. It’s a good way to come full circle and leave them with a lasting impression of you.

The Job Interview Matters

The only time it’s probably best to avoid sending a follow-up note is if the interview itself went disastrously south. Maybe the interviewers were playing ‘gotcha,’ and you weren’t having it. Whiteboard interviews have a way of going wrong for everyone involved, too.
Maybe you want to send a note explaining that your “interview self” wasn’t the best version of you, and you can do better. But that’s probably a bad idea: Desperation is a bad look for anyone.
It’s also possible the interviewer just wasn’t into you. The company may have a requisite number of interviews to conduct before someone can be placed in a role… and you might have been filler for someone else’s candidacy. If the interviewer limped their way though the interview, and it left a bad taste in your mouth as you walked out of the building (or hung up on the call), don’t feel obligated to send a note.

Thank You Notes Work

Many companies rely on recruiters to fill roles; this person often serves as a buffer for the rest of the company. They arrange calls, serve as your only point of contact, and generally run the show right down to your hiring or dismissal as a candidate.
Touching base with them after each step is smart. If the interview went poorly, leveraging a hiring manager to express concerns to the company can help you through the process, even if you’re bowing out early. Recruiters can be surprisingly honest, and forming a bond with them can prove crucial to you getting either this job or the next one.
With any follow-up note, keep it personal and topical. Avoid using templates, and touch on your takeaways. Short of asking an interviewer where they bought the shirt they were wearing because you really liked it, follow-up notes are a good way to leave people with positive thoughts about you, no matter how long (or short) the process is.