Home > Leadership > midweek musings on thank you notes, and why it is wrong to solicit them

midweek musings on thank you notes, and why it is wrong to solicit them

One of the things that have been doing the rounds on various blogs and social media posts for a while now is the lost art of the thank you note. Now I like to write one of these where appropriate, and I do mean write; pen and paper and my own hand, not typed.

But many of these recommendations to write thank you notes are for where you have been interviewed for a job, the suggestion being that you should always write a thank you note after the interview or you won’t get the job.

Now when interview people I always work on the basis that I will make a decision based on the evidence I can gather at the interview. To suggest that I should wait for a few days and see who writes to say thank you, or not, before making a decision for me is just wrong. It’s perhaps a good job that I don’t have to worry about job interviews anymore because I’m not sure that I would want to work for someone who behaves like that.

I’m not suggesting that, if you feel that you would like to, you refrain from writing a thank you note to the person who has interviewed you. It is a nice enough gesture and goodness knows we could do with more people doing nice things.

But the real skill of interviewing is to allow the candidate to show their best during the interview, and any other assessment that forms part of the selection process. Interviewers who like to show off or try to be clever are a blight that needs to be eradicated, because they are people in leadership positions who plainly don’t know how to lead, and a bad leader will be unlikely to recruit the right people for the team. To insist that anyone who fails to write a thank you note will not get the job is a selfish act on the part of the interviewer; it’s about them and not the candidate and such ego trips have no place in the process.

The other problem that I have with this approach is that the folks who recommend that everyone should write these notes all say something along the lines of “You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so”. Now how can that be true if everyone follows their advice?  Quite frankly I’m not sure that I would want to take advice from someone presenting such an obviously flawed argument.

And if this blatant solicitation of thanks becomes universal, where next? Perhaps to write the thank you on the back of a £20 note, or should that be a £50 note? Where do you stop? (Well you probably stop in prison, because you’ve just fallen foul of the Bribery Act).

If someone wants to write a thank you note then they should but, other than your parents, no-one should insist that you do.

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