Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
What is the best way to thank someone in a business setting? I’m used to writing thank you notes for gifts and things, but not for job interviews or references.
The Emily Post Institute suggests thanking twice, once verbally when leaving and once in writing. Ask A Manager says they are always a good idea, in email form, and intending to build on the conversation in the interview.
Victoria: Basically, the idea is that you should absolutely be writing thank you notes after all job interviews
Jaya: Does it have to be on paper?
Victoria: Nope, paper is way too slow! I started at my current job 2 days after my interview- paper would have gotten there way too late.
Jaya: Yeah, and you’re probably already emailing with them.
Victoria: Also, you should wait at least a few hours to email it so it looks like you have actually considered your words and thought about the interview.
Jaya: Haha I never write interview thank you notes and that is why I never get hired.
Victoria: Duuuude, you need to.
Jaya: Well in my line of work usually they tell me a specific way to follow up, just like “send us clips/pitch something/etc.”
Victoria: That’s different because you’re still talking. And I would think maybe you would say “it was great talking to you….here are my clips.”
Jaya: Yeah, that’s what I usually do.
Victoria: Then you are doing it!
Jaya: But I remember I got a handwritten thank you note from a girl I had a 15 minute conversation with about working in in my field, and I was like ‘gahhhh what is this.”
Victoria: Was it just an informational interview?
Jaya: Basically? She was a friend of a family member, just graduated, wanting to know what working in my field was like. Can we make a point that I am the worst at etiquette because people do stuff and I’m like “ew what are you doing, everyone stop talking to each other.”
Victoria: You are not the worst! But for those I do send handwritten notes because the person took actual time to help me out. But that reminds me of another thing I was thinking of recently that’s kind of a side topic.
I went on an informational interview once and the person who was talking to me bought us coffee. And now thinking about it, I probably should have bought the coffee and should have made it clear in my original email to her, like, could I buy you a cup of coffee and ask you about how you got your job and how can I get a job like it.
Jaya: Really? I mean, that doesn’t come off as a bribe?
Victoria: Nah. But yeah, it’s confusing! Because they are probably the more successful person and you are probably broke-ish.
Jaya: I think it depends on who does the asking.
Victoria: Hahaha, like a date.
Jaya: Hahahaha, and you have to leave your napkin on the left when the interview is over.
Jaya: So what do you actually say in your thank you notes? My standard for interviews is something like “just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I’m very excited about the position, and please let me know if you need anything else from me…”
Victoria: I have actually started eliminating the thank you part- as these are supposed to be more of a follow up, and you are kind of equal partners in finding a good fit for you and for them. And it’s really more of a business meeting than someone really giving you their time. They want you to solve a problem for them!
Jaya: Oh interesting! What do you write?
Victoria: Here is a sample:
It was such a pleasure to meet you today. I really enjoyed our conversation about your wonderful company and really appreciate your taking the time to meet with me.
The position sounds like it would be a great fit for my skills and career goals and I want to reiterate how excited I would be for this opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
So I guess I sort of thank them in saying I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me but I just don’t like saying thank you.
Jaya: Ahh yeah. Damn yours is better, no wonder you get hired.
Victoria: Hahaha, I mean, I’ve used the same format for all of my recent interviews and it was only successful 1 out of 10 times. I would also be a bit more specific in what skills I had discussed in the interview that I think would be a good fit. And maybe add in a bit about what I liked about the company. But anyway, working in HR a bit myself, it is noticed when people do or do not send SOMETHING. So it’s important.
Jaya: That’s good to know that people actually notice it. I feel like a lot of people think “ehh who cares” but it makes a difference!
Victoria: Another thing- you should send a note to everyone who interviews you- like if you sit in with a couple different people or whatever.
Jaya: I try to do that but damn, it is so hard to get everyone’s names.
Victoria: However, I did have one interview where all my contact was with HR, but I also spoke to a person who would be the supervisor for the role. She didn’t give me a business card or any contact info and told me to direct all questions to HR, so I didn’t send her a note, just sent to HR. Sometimes you can look them up on the company website or on LinkedIn, but just do your best and ask everyone for a card!