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Do you always have to send a thank you note?

September 7, 2010

Thanks for nothing?

Hey Erica!
This morning I had a phone interview for a job that, as it became clear within the first 60 seconds of the interview, I was in no way qualified for. In retrospect, I have no idea why I was even selected for an interview. I know you’re supposed to send thank you notes after every interview, but I sort of feel like I should just put this one to rest and let both parties move along without trying to put on a facade of pretending like I might still have a shot at this role. A typical interview note would give a few quick points as to why I’m a good fit for the job, and I really think I’d be grasping at straws to come up with anything truly substantial. I also don’t want to send a generic one-liner kind of deal saying “Thanks for your time” and that’s it. Is it super rude if I don’t send one, particularly because this interview was over the phone and lasted only 12 minutes?

It’s sort of like at the end of a bad first date. I never say “yeah, let’s do this again sometime” if I don’t mean it. I certainly cannot be genuine in trying to convince the interviewer that I deserve an in person meeting. Thoughts?

Standing Up and Standing Out

Congrats on realizing that an interview can work both ways! It sounds like no matter what happens here, you have decided that you aren’t taking this job, and that actually getting being offered it is a long shot. So, since it wasn’t a normal interview where the goal is getting this position, why send a normal thank you note?

Don’t get me wrong. I think you should absolutely send a note. Thank them for their time. But you don’t have to leave it as a totally forgettable one-liner. You already don’t have the job, so why not throw yourself out there a little bit? If it’s somewhere you can picture yourself working (in another position), then you can suggest that you are qualified for a different role at the company, and ask that they keep you in mind.

Maybe you can also turn this contact into a mentor, and ask if she can offer you advice or feedback on your interview skills, or the kind of position that you would be best suited for, even if it’s for another company? That’s the kind of note that may not get automatically deleted, and you never know when you will run into this person again, or what connections he or she may have.

But, it’s not all about you. You can be thankful that he/she took the time to interview, didn’t waste too much of your own time and was professional. Writing back and trying to score an in person meeting seems silly and undervaluing your interviewer’s time. Don’t be that guy.

You may not end a date saying “let’s do it again sometimes” but you may say “you know, I have a friend who you may really love to meet!” Try that same tactic with the interviewer.

Photo Credit: MrB-MMX

  1. September 8, 2010 5:21 pm

    I totally agree. Although I’ve not always done it when in situations like these, the right thing to do is to send the letter.

  2. September 10, 2010 1:49 pm

    Personally, I think that a thank you note for a 12 minute phone screen is overkill. Unless this is a company that the person would REALLY, REALLY like to work for at some point, even in another capacity. But I don’t get that vibe from the writer.

    Regardless, if it had been an in-person interview, then DEFINITELY. ALWAYS with the note. That’s good form. 🙂

    But in my experience, the initial phone screen is usually done by someone in HR (maybe even just the HR Assistant – been there, done that), who, depending on the company and the position, may not be the best source for any mentoring. For example, say the position in question is a Research Associate at a Scientific Lab. Is the HR Assistant/Receptionist who initially called you and asked you some generic questions about your resume, going to be the best resource? Probably not.

    Thank you-notes are 99.44% good form and the right thing to do, in my opinion. But in a case like this…not so much. On to the next. *shrug*


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