Should Your Interviewer Get a Thank-You Note or eThanks?

email-or-letter-thank-you-to-job-interviewerShould you thank an interviewer with an email or a card? We’ve wondered about this for a while as well, so reader J’s question strikes us as particularly interesting…

After an interview, everyone knows that it is good manners to send a perfunctory “Thank You” note. However, is it still recommended that the “Thank You” note be a hand-written note sent through snail mail or is it equally appropriate to send a “Thank You” after an interview via email? I am old-fashioned and still send a hand-written note on nice Crane & Co. stationary, however, an email “thank you” would certainly get there faster. I am not sure what is considered appropriate these days!? Any thoughts??

First, we would say that the thank-you note should be far from perfunctory — it reinforces what you spoke about in the interview, why you’re qualified for the job, and allows you to clarify anything that you worry came across poorly.  (Pictured:  Orange notecards, 25 thermographed notecards for $152 at Fine Stationery.)

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That said, we’re sort of torn on how to send your interviewer their thank-you note. For us, it mostly comes down to a question of time (we are masters of the 7th-day thank you, which is just about the longest you can wait to send one). For the most part, then, we have done e-mail thank yous at least since 2003 or so. We have made exceptions for that, however. For example — a few years ago this author had a coffee catch-up with a man who has been a guiding force in my career since before grad school, the uncle of a friendly colleague, who happened to be working in my dream job. He and I have only met a few times over the past decade — I doubt he would recognize me on the street, even! — but his advice has not steered me wrong. We met for coffee, and again he gave invaluable advice, and I decided to send him a personal, hand-written thank-you note. As I was writing it out, it suddenly felt weird — my handwriting looked so messy on the page. My personalized stationery, normally reserved for Grandma and aunts, suddenly felt too “too.” It all felt maybe a little too… emotional. Girly. Not professional. Still, I struggled past these concerns and sent him the thank-note by mail.

Cut to 2 years later and I was trying to find our last correspondence to meet with him, and was alarmed to find no thank-you note in my e-mail files. Had I not sent one? It was only a very visual memory of dropping the note in a mailbox that jarred my memory. He never mentioned the note, so I have no idea what he thought about it (if anything). Still, that was the experience with the note. So our $.02 is to send the thank-you note by e-mail: gets there quicker, you know it was received, and you have a record for your files of what you sent.

But readers, what has your experience been? Let’s take a poll… and please comment below.


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  1. Kristin B. :

    Always a handwritten note snail mailed, but sometimes the addition of an email thank you if the decision is to be made more rapidly then the postal service can handle (example “we will be making our decision sometime in the next two days”).

  2. Call me old-fashioned. There’s nothing like a hand-written “thank you” note. An email might suffice in a pinch. But there’s nothing like a hand-written note to set a person apart from the crowd. I have never, ever received a hand-written note that I thought was “too” anything. In fact, I’m even impressed when the Brooks Brothers salespeople send me hand-written notes thanking me for my business!

    • The handwritten note does stand out… but to me, sometimes not in a great way – When I’ve interviewed ten people rapid fire, and I receive 9 professionally written e-mails and one handwritten note on a piece of floral stationery, I can’t help but scrutinize the handwriting – and if that note has a smear, a cross-out, illegible handwriting, or a spelling error, then the impression left on me is definitely less than favorable.

      • As an interviewer, the only handwritten notes I have ever received have been from women. Not sure what this means, other than maybe that women obsess over this type of thing more, but it is another way hand written notes stand out to me in a not bad, but not necessarily good way either.

        • I think etiquette just matters to women more than men. I get more thank you notes from women, period, whether they’re emailed or handwritten. I also think men tend to have worse handwriting and thus lean toward emailing.

  3. We just returned from our spring recruiting trip for next year’s summer program. Although I wouldn’t “not” choose a qualified candidate that I liked because she or she failed to send a thank you note, I was appalled that some of the students we interviewed sent no thank you at all (particularly in this economic climate where most firms aren’t even bothering to visit law school campuses). Call me old fashioned, but I perceive e-mailed thank yous as the path of least resistance and really, really appreciated the pile of hand written thank you notes we received (several of which were so well-written they even made me feel guilty we had decided not to hire those students).

    • But have you ever changed your hiring decision (either current or future) based on those hand-written notes? If the answer is “no” (which it is in my case), then frankly, what’s the point?

      • Because it all lends itself to making a good impression. As the economy gets tougher, so do the decisions. If I am faced with two students with excellent grades/schools/resumes and great personalities whom I can’t decide between, and one takes the time/goes out of his or her way to send a note, of course that tips the scales. More importantly, to the one who “didn’t bother”, it makes me wonder why I should bother with them. The goal of an interview is to leave a positive impression and every little bit adds up to that overall positive impression. Would you not hire someone who comes to the interview in scuffy shoes? Perhaps not. However, the students who maximize the positive impression they leave on interviewers are the ones who get the jobs.

  4. anonymous :

    I like getting emailed thank you notes — email lives forever, where a paper note gets tossed. And an email note lets me quickly reply to the sender, which I like to do in case it gets to the point where we are recruiting him or her.

    • Au contraire – e-mails become lost more quickly than a physical note, which is stapled to the top of the resume, or sits upon the desk.

      • Sorry, I’ve never saved an interviewee’s thank-you note for more than maybe a day – and I’ve never stapled it to anything (in my last big corporate job, resumes of people we’d interviewed for a position had to go to Document Management once we were done with them). I have, however, searched my email for someone’s e-mailed thank-you note, to get their contact information from it – if my original hire doesn’t work out, or I want to refer them to someone who is hiring. People are using paper less and less these days, because it is just flat-out not as convenient. I can’t thumb through the paper files in my file cabinet in the middle of a meeting with a client at their offices, but I CAN search my email from my Blackberry. I’d hate to miss out on an opportunity because someone couldn’t put their hands on my contact info when they needed it.

  5. Both! Send a quick email thank you that same day or the next morning and then drop one in the mail.

    • I agree!

      The email gets there early enough that I still remember the details, and getting a hand-written thank you always makes me feel warm and appreciated when I receive it a week or so later.

  6. In tech, in California, we would not know what to do with a hand-written thank you note. That said, the email should be well-formatted, formal, and more than three sentences.

  7. Christine :

    The only exception I make for my hand-written note rule is when I know snail mail will take too long. Mail going to a federal office can take weeks so email is preferred. I like the idea of following up with a hand-written note as well.

  8. litigatrix :

    Handwritten notes are best. They’re the most traditional, show your personality a bit, and require the most effort, which makes them seem the most sincere and thoughtful. The notecard should be professional and simple – either personalized stationery with your name/initials, or store-bought thank-you cards with no cutesy design.

    In the interest of time, email might be more efficient in some cases, for instance if you know they will make a hiring decision quickly or if you also have a follow-up question for the interview to which you want a response.

    Under no circumstances should you mail a typewritten note. That’s just awkward. It makes you look like you have no personality and couldn’t put the time and effort into actually writing a card, and it doesn’t save any time or efficiency.

    • litigatrix :

      I should add two things –

      Re: notecard design, it’s fine to have some design. I’d just avoid cute/funny ones. A lot of mass-produced cards are goofy or have overly girly designs. You don’t want to be remembered as the woman who sent the ladybug card with the stupid pun.

      Also, I would never ding someone because they didn’t send a card, but it’s polite and somewhat expected. Sending a tasteful thank-you for any situation, not just an interview, shows that you understand etiquette and common courtesy. That’s an asset for any professional. I write thank-you notes, and receive them from colleagues, for things like birthday lunches or office secret Santa. The notes are appreciated.

    • I disagree. I think typewritten, hand-signed notes are fine as long as they are personal to the interview so it doesn’t look like they were mass-produced with a mail merge program. I would never send a handwritten note that just said “thanks for interview, it was nice meeting you, hope to hear from you soon” either, though, because it looks like you wrote them out in advance. I don’t think store-bought “professional and simple” notecards show your personality either, by the way, which doesn’t matter because that’s not the point of thank-you notes.

      The most important thing is to send SOMETHING. I have interviewed many candidates and have received no thank-yous at all. I don’t remember their names. The ones I have received thank-yous from I remember for at least a little while. I remember them longer if they said, “hey, thanks for sharing with me the information on the firm’s professional development philosophy” or whatever we actually talked about.

      • Professional looking notecards from your alma mater are sometimes good choices as well.

        • It depends how long you’ve been out of school. From a new grad, maybe. If you’ve been out of school more than five years, forget it. I personally think it’s a little pretentious – I’d rather see a monogram or something.

        • If you’re a student or recent grad, or if your interviewee went to your school, yes, absolutely. I would definitely like to receive a card with my alma mater’s logo on it from an interviewee who also went there. It reinforces what we have in common.

      • litigatrix :

        I think that notecards show your personality – they show your favorite color, for example, or if you like monograms, or if you like a particular style of art. You can tell a lot about someone’s style from their choice of notecard. And if the person sends a ladybug card with a bad pun, you can tell that they don’t have the judgment to be a successful attorney :).

        • Yet another reason not to send a notecard. No one is going to read into your typed letter on white paper to this degree.

    • I disagree completely. In my experience, the typed thank you letter is the norm. I would save the handwritten note for the unique/special situation, such as C’s above (coffee w/ a mentor). The problem with any snail mail thank you letter in big law is that shortly after the interviewee leaves, we fill out an evaluation form and send it on to recruiting. By the time we receive the letter, we’ve already sent in the evaluation. In those circumstances, send an email to the interviewee and a typed letter to recruiting.

  9. I think it depends on the circumstances of the interview and the interviewer. If a decision is going to be made quickly then an e-mail seems more appropriate. If however, the person who interviewed you is more old fashioned, say an older federal judge is what comes to mind, a handwritten note seems more appropriate.

    I don’t think I would ever send both, that seems repetitive and maybe desperate ?

  10. What mighty fine timing, Corporette! I’ve just interviewed for a government job (but not the kind that involves KSAs, USAJobs, or anything overly bureaucratic sadly) and have been advised to drop off hand-written thank you cards as 1.) snail mail would take weeks due to security measures and 2.) it shows aggressiveness needed for this type of job. I interviewed with 3/4ths of the staff, though, and it seems weird to drop off thank you cards with the front-desk person who was at the interview. I’m over thinking this, I know.

    • litigatrix :

      I’d drop off the card with the most senior person, and ask her to convey your appreciation to her colleagues (list the colleagues by name). Although in a case like this, I think individual emails to each of them are also fine.

    • Who gave you the advice??

      I would drop off one card to the senior person and email the rest. That said, how will people know you dropped off the cards (demonstratred aggressiveness)? People dropping off mail to my federal agency come into the clerk’s office and there’s a basket there to drop off internal mail. You can’t go any further due to security. The admins would NEVER go downstairs to pick something up — it’s enough of an effort just to get them to go meet an interviewee and escort them up. I would never know if the mail came through internally or externally; it’s all delivered the same.

    • LJ, just curious as to why you said commented that “sadly” the job you interviewed for was not the KSA/USAJobs type? I’m trying to get a job in DC w/ the federal government as an attorney from a non-DC firm and have been applying to many of the KSA/USAJobs type. The application process has seemed daunting. Any and all advice on federal hiring appreciated.

      • As you probably know, the KSA-type jobs interview the top five or ten people who had the highest scores after their application answers are evaluated based on keywords, work experience, et cetera. Personally, I like that sort of impersonal touch. I’m a weirdo, I know. A friend of mine who now works at a big federal agency and who has grilled many an HR rep there (but still, with a grain of salt), says the most important thing with KSAs particularly is to hit on the keywords the agency has used in the job description. That helps bump up your score.

  11. anon - chi :

    If it’s a thank you note for an interview, email it. I’ve received both handwritten and emailed notes, and while the handwritten ones are very nice, they inevitably arrive after a decision has already been made. I’ve received email thank yous only 30 minutes after interviewing a candidate, though I would not think badly of someone who did not bother to send either.

    If it’s a thank you for anything other than an interview (i.e. a present, advice, etc.) definitely handwrite it and send it by snail mail. It’s more meaningful and less “business-y” than email.

  12. I used to send hand written notes back in the days when I was looking for gig. Now that I’m doing interviewing I prefer email. But both handwritten and emailed notes are sent to our recruiter, and filed. So we definitely do notice when someone doesn’t send thank you notes at all, or sends identical ones. Definitely not a hire/not hire decision maker either way, though.

    I think rather than worry about email v. handwriting, you should pay attention to the content of the note, and make sure it reiterates a point you discussed with the interviewer, so they will remember you. I perfunctory “nice meeting you” note on paper will impress me less than an emailed note that reinforces a topic we discussed.

  13. At my firm, we have to get our evaluation of interviewees done within a day or two. So, if you don’t email it, its likely that the person won’t have received it before they wrote the eval. I’ve never really cared one way or the other. (Funny story … had a friend who interviewed for a job, and his wife told him to send a thank-you. He thought it was silly but she kept pestering, so he sent them a thank you that essentilaly said “my wife made me send this, I’m not sure why, but thanks for interviewing me.” He got hte job, and they loved the thank-you note. But he works for a creative industry, and I’m not actually recommending this route to anyone.)

  14. Elle Woods :

    A handwritten thank you note sounds lovely, but I would be far too worried that 1) it will arrive after they’ve already made up their minds and/or 2) it gets lost in the mail. E-mail is the way forward and I would save handwritten thank yous for personal occasions such as weddings and birthdays (not that I ever write thank you notes in generally and now feel bad about it, but still).

    That’s just me, though…

  15. Stephanie :

    As much as I love paper, I always at least send an email thank you. As many have said, email gets there faster. I send thank you cards more for informal interviews and meetings when I am trying to establish working relationships.

    I had an interview once with the SVP of an organization and sent a thank you email to him the next day. Turns out that the person who they offered the job to declined and I was later told my email thank you was what pushed me over the top for the job since it made the SVP remember who I was. Best move I ever made. This person became my mentor and 10 years later, I owe a lot of my career advancement to him.

    Had I sent a hand written letter, it wouldn’t have gotten there in time and the job would have been offered to someone else. It also might have been intercepted by the Personal Assistant and never given to him.

    • Great story, and an excellent point. My experience is that assistants screen paper mail a lot more than they screen their boss’ e-mail, plus with most executives, they usually have a Blackberry or other mobile method of getting their email. You can have a high degree of confidence the person making the hiring decision sees the thank-you note. I imagine it’s pretty easy for an assistant to take one look at a handwritten thank-you, say “oh, I’ll give him/her this later” and shunt it to the side.

  16. As a “biglaw” associate who has interviewed dozens of new and lateral candidates, I recommend email thank you notes in the large law firm setting. We are encouraged by our hiring committees to get the evaluations in as soon as possible, and though handwritten thank yous are nice to get, they are often received long after evaulations are written and decisions are made.

  17. Hand-written notes may look pretty when you first get them, but I always am at a loss as to what to do with cards. Do I just toss them in the trash right after I get them? For some unknown reason I feel like I should hang onto those cards for awhile.

    • I staple them to the paper copy of the person’s resume, where I also have my hand-written notes from the interview. So when it’s time to do reviews/decisions, I’ve got it all in front of me.

  18. MissAnnOnymous :

    A few years ago, I had a morning interview and called HR later that day to get the official mailing address. When I called at 3pm, I was told there was no need to send a hand-written note because I was already hired. I switched gears and immediately sent out 6 email thank yous to the panel I had met with.

    If time allows for a mailed note, I believe it says a great deal about who you are as a professional. In this economy, there may be plenty of time to mail a note with every opening receiving hundreds of applicants.

  19. Handwritten note all the way. It’s classy.

  20. I’m a partner in a top law firm, and I find I actually hold handwritten notes against people just a little bit. They almost always come from women, interestingly enough. That’s of course not a problem for me, but I wonder how my male colleagues see it. Handwritten notes also seem a little old-fashioned, signalling that the sender may not understand how the professional world typically works. I think an email is great — best if it conveys some particular aspect of our conversation, or a follow-up thought, rather than just general thanks.

    • Interesting. Thanks.

    • I think it would be interesting to get the male perspective on this issue. Anyone game to ask a husband, male colleague, partner, etc. and post the response?

      • Husband will take either, but he appreciates the effort that goes into a physical note.

      • mine (relatively senior guy in finance) says: people sometimes send written thank you notes? Why?

      • My DH works in sales. He said he wouldn’t expect a written one, and email would be more likely to make it to someone who works at a large office.

  21. I much prefer the emailed thank-you note from interviewees – it’s quick, I can forward it to the recruiting coordinator if I was a fan of the person, it can live in the recruiting email folder rather than clutter up my desk. For personal connections, though, such as the mentor C mentions or thank yous for friends, I always go with the handwritten note.

  22. I think it depends on the work place environment. I’m sure an email note is almost always appropriate.
    That said, we’re hiring right now and I’ve gotten thank you notes from only about half the people I interviewed. By far the best is a simple hand-written note. In a pool this tight, it may be enough to squeak that candidate into the next round as it seemed so thoughtful. However, I didn’t get it until several days after I’d gotten all the emailed ones…so I probably come down on the side of preferring email, even though I loved to get one in the mail.

  23. For interviews, I send an email.
    For personal “thank-yous,” I sent a card in the mail.

  24. Email first and follow up with a handwritten note. There’s no need to be forgotten quickly, and even if they’ve already rejected you this time, they’ll remember that you took the extra couple of seconds to write, stamp and send a thank you card!

    • I agree! This is the approach I took with my most recent job change (3 months), and I actually had several of the interviewers complement me for sending a handwritten thank you note. Guess it made me stand out.

  25. After an interview, I like to do snail mail. However, since my handwriting is naturally very bubbly, I do type written notes because I think they look more professional and business-like. I also typewrite the addresses on the envelope. Since I’ve ever only applied to jobs in the same metro area where I live (I and I send them out nearly immediately afterward), the latest they arrive to the employer is the 2nd business day after the interview.

    To thank someone for just giving me advice over coffee though.. I’d probably shoot a professional email thanks. Seems like that scenario might be more casual.

  26. Clare Richardson :

    Always an email thank-you for a job interview, and always within 12 hours of the interview! Snail mail notes are unrealistic for any of the jobs I’ve ever interviewed for. Corporate recruiters and some managers are on the road so much, they may not get their snail mail for a month after you sent it. For myself, I only check my corporate mail box every few months since nothing’s ever in there.
    When I was at a small company (<10 people), we made yes-or-no decisions about someone within a day, whether we told them that or not. I received one snail-mail thank-you note three days after we had already decided not to hire the person, so it did no good.
    For personal thank-yous, a card in the mail is always the most appreciated and special.

  27. My law school’s career services office advised in no uncertain terms NOT to send handwritten thank yous, but to email if we were to do anything. Now that I am doing interviewing on behalf of my firm, I echo the partner above who finds hand written thank you notes a bit weird. A quick email the next day I think is fine in a BigLaw environment.

  28. North Shore :

    I’m on the hiring side for a big federal agency. I much prefer e-mail, and as soon as possible after the interview, as we try to make our decisions quickly. Your snail mail letter will be irradiated, sorted, carted to my building, opened, time stamped, dumped in my mailbox while I’m on travel, and maybe later my secretary will scan it into e-mail and send it to me before I’ll actually read it. Your e-mail comes straight to my Blackberry and I’ll read it within an hour or so, hopefully just as I’m checking your references and hearing wonderful things about you.

  29. I’m a fan of the e-mail — I’ve interviewed with mostly corporate positions (in large companies) the last couple times I switched jobs, and from a logistics viewpoints, locating the correct corporate campus address for your interviewer is close to impossible… and as someone who now works on one of those corporate campuses with a “Mail Stop” number and a building code, anything that gets sent to the company’s general address almost never makes it to me.
    Blogging at

  30. I always bring a stamped, addressed card with me to interviews, and compose the note and mail it immediately afterwards. It arrives the next day. Not as fast as e-mail, but close. I’ve learned form past experience not to address the card to a specific person before the interview, though, in case you end up interviewing with someone other than who you were told you’d be interviewing with.

    I must be a dinosaur – I think e-mailed thank you’s are tacky and unprofessional, and much more likely to be passed over than an actual card.

  31. I’ve done quite a lot of interviewing and made hiring decisions in the last 10 years (although not in HR) – here’s what I would say: thank-yous are nice, but I honestly cannot think of a single time where my (or another interviewer’s) decision was impacted by them. I quite honestly delete/throw out most of them. So, send an email, be polite & personal, make it quick. Things that annoy me (and could sway me the other way): 1) when you answered a question wrong in the interview (I do technical interviewing), and you try to correct yourself afterwards. Sorry, that’s not doing much other than reminding me you got it wrong. 2) Sending an email thank you several days later. If you’re going to do an email, make it immediate.

    Now, I’ve gotten thank-yous from people I’ve worked with and mentored, both emailed and written. Those are always appreciated, and usually stored (at least until the next time I move offices). That’s more about maintaining and building relationships.

    • Given the speed with which hiring decisions are made, I see the follow-up thank you note as future networking, since I don’t think such notes make a difference with hiring. When I am the interviewer, I always fill out an evaluation form immediately. Even an e-mail would arrive too late. However, a thoughtful thank you note (for me, handwritten on good quality stationery) makes a positive impression for future dealings. For example, I’ve made a special effort with summer associates who sent me a good thank you note after their interview simply because I perceived them as being more mature or holding more promise.

  32. Good to know. I typed and mailed my thank yous after interviewing for the job I currently have. I was one state away so at most it took 2 days to get there. I made them like a business letter but still very personal. For gifts etc. I hand write notes. For something quick and casual, I just drop an email.

  33. Question:

    I interviewed for a position (internship) with a judge on Friday, and he called me on Monday giving me the position. I hadn’t had a chance to send a thank-you for the interview, so should I still send one, even though I have the job?

    Or should I send a thank you note for receiving the job?

    • Katie – this same thing happened to me. As I was getting ready to mail the interview thank you note (which my law school still recommends as the preferred method) I got the call that I was hired. I turned around, wrote new thank you notes, explaining what I liked about the firm and that I was looking forward to the summer I would spend at the firm. Point out something from the interview that made you hopeful that you would get the job and explain how pleased you are to have the experience to look forward to. When you’re finished with the internship, write thank you notes to the people with whom you worked. That’s what I did after my summer and I ended up getting a post-grad offer.

    • litigatrix :

      It’s a bit late to send it IMO. I wouldn’t wait more than 24 hours to send a thank-you card. And a thank you for receiving the job is awkward.

  34. I send a quick e-mail thank you and a more detailed handwritten one or I just send s handwritten one. I’ve gotten emails back about how nice it is to get the note. I get over 90 emails a day, but personal mail still catches my attention.

  35. Quite a range of opinions!

    As the original drafter of the question, I meant “perfunctory” only in the sense that “of course you would send one” as opposed to the text that I write within a note, which would be personalized to the interview discussion, etc.

    Also, this particular interview was with two high ranking females (both over 50 – I am in my 30s) for a non-traditional legal job. In this case, I opted for distinct, hand-written notes to each individual with whom I interviewed. Given the job and interviewers, a note seemed more appropriate (which I mailed same day, local mail).

    That said, I will certainly much more seriously consider an email “Thank You” in the future, which I would not have done before reading all the comments.

    • I’d love to see commenters begin to identify their regions. I am going to make a bet that almost no one voting for the handwritten notes is working in California. Really, it would set you back to do that for a regular job interview here. Networking, internships, another matter, as others have noted.

      • I would also wonder if there is some correlation to TYPES of jobs or professions various commenters have (technology vs. business vs. law; biglaw vs. boutique vs. gov’t).

  36. @Katie I would send him a thank you for both the his time interviewing with him and for the opportunity of the job. Plus let him know you’re looking forward to working with him.

  37. I’ve just gone through 1L recruiting activities at a top law school in New York, and something that the associates and partners all said when they came to talk to us about interviewing for summer associate positions next summer is that they really don’t like getting thank you notes for 3 reasons: 1) it’s another opportunity for you to make a typo or write something a little awkward; 2) the actual people interviewing you only have so much say in whether you get hired in the law firm context and some of them felt awkward when someone who sent them one didn’t get an offer; and 3) as people have mentioned, it doesn’t make a tangible difference in whether someone is hired.

  38. I am the hiring partner at a large California-based firm, and I can tell you that I never, ever read handwritten thank-you notes. My assistant is in charge of my inbox and makes a separate pile for things like thank-yous, and the reality is that I’m really just too busy to read them. Also, I rarely get them in time, as our hiring decisions are made very quickly. As to email thank-yous, I frankly don’t really care one way or the other about getting them — HOWEVER, if you do send them, please make sure they are nicely written, addressed to the right person in the body of the email, have no typos, and contain correct punctuation and capitalization. I have received email thank-yous that contain all of the above mistakes, and in more than one instance, it has been a factor in deciding whether the person gets the offer.

  39. I’ve gotten a few super-girly thank-you notes from interviewees (loopy writing, girly card, gushing sentiments). They make me think “what a sweet girl” – but they don’t make me think “what a wonderful professional woman that I want on my team.” If you are doing the handwritten card, make it plain, simple and professiona, and typed if your handwriting is very “girly.”

    As others have noted, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a hand-written thank-you from a man.

  40. When conducting interviews, I always notice a handwritten thank you note…and I think that person gets a little extra credit for sitting down and writing a real piece of correspondence, rather than tapping out a quick email.

    When I was interviewing, I used to bring my thank you notes with me in my briefcase, pre-addressed and stamped, and go to a coffee shop nearby and write the note as soon as the interview was completed while the details were still fresh in my mind. Then, I would drop it in the mail, and the interviewer would get it one – two days later, which is good timing to me.

    If you really want the job, put in the effort!! It DOES make a difference.

    • PS – My first boss told me that when she was deciding between me and another person for an associate position, she chose me based on the written thank-you note that I sent after the interview (because we had been such good candidates). I sent a note to each person that I interviewed with, and wrote different things to each person. Good thing I did because she told me that they all compared the the thank-you notes. It would have been embarrassing if the same cookie-cutter message was written in each!!

    • I did exactly the same thing when I was interviewing; since I would typically drop the note at the post office on my way home, I thought the note would reach the recipient within the same time frame as an e-mailed note.

      It appears that personalization of the thank you note now includes determining which communication method is most appropriate to the firm’s culture.

  41. Agree with those of you who say email for Big Law. Our recruiting office pressures us to get our interview evaluations in the same day we do an interview, and during peak hiring season, the recruiting committee will meet and a decision be made w/in a very few days — not enough time for the nicest paper note to make a difference. On the other hand, a thoughtful, well presented email can be a slight nudge upward for me when I’m writing an evaluation.

    Also, if you send me an email, and I want to encourage your interest in our firm, wish you luck or otherwise follow up — I can easily reply to you at that moment. If you send me a letter, the chances that I’ll have the time to get back to you diminish accordingly….

    That’s just NY big law.

  42. Poor job candidates! There seems to be no agreement on one v. two thank-yous, and on email v. hand-written. But here are my two cents. I am an older professional who was around when Wangs were high-tech. But even I feel that handwritten thank-yous are passe for the business world, and I feel that two thank-yous (email and snail mail follow-up) look desperate. I also want to confirm that evaluations are made long before a snail-mail card would arrive. So, onward into the 21st century for me, and keep it to email.

    • you hit the nail on the head here : note + an email = desperate. Desperate translates to a lack of confidence. An email more than suffices. I’m California, Big Law for reference.

  43. I’m in charge of recruiting at a boutique tax law firm. We generally make our hiring decisions the same day we interview a candidate. Even when we wait a few days to decide, a thank you note has no bearing on our decision. Personally, I feel like I can tell if someone’s grateful or not by the way they act during and after the interview. With a note or an email, there’s so much more opportunity to plan the “right” thing to say, so I don’t give it much weight.

    Also, to me, a handwritten thank you note seems, I don’t know, too personal. You wouldn’t hand write a cover letter or any other sort of business document, so why would you hand write a business thank you? I wouldn’t knock someone for sending one, because I understand that someone else probably told them they needed to send a handwritten thank you note, but it just seems odd to me.

  44. I think that an email thank you for the initial interview is good; it is quick and responsive. But if you make it to the next round, especially if you meet with someone higher up the hiring chain, I think a written note is appropriate.

    One plus (or minus I suppose) about emails is that they can be forwarded. I recall the days of receiving a thank you note, photocopying it and sending it to the hiring committee.

    And for what it’s worth, my law firm did choose the person who sent the thank you note over the person who didn’t – we were looking for anything to help us make the call between to good candidates.

  45. i always like to do both; i’ll email an hour or so after the interview then drop a thank you letter in the mail the next day or so. BUT when i interviewed for the job i’m at right now, i knew they were interviewing 3 people. one was tuesday, i was wednesday morning, and the third was wednesday afternoon. i emailed my thanks after my interview and was hired at 7:30pm that night. my boss told me on my first day of work that my email had really set me apart (even more than my resume already had) and they knew going into the third interview that they would hire me.

    then again, i was applying for an administrative assistant position at a church (please get better, economy…), so i don’t know that they expected that sort of thing ;)

    it is funny, though. my best friend’s mom does hiring at her publishing company and the advice she gives me (“young enough to include high school stuff on your resume” “2 page resume” etc) is so conflicting with other things i read… it seems like you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  46. silicon valley litigator :

    I’ve done e-mailed thank you’s following first round on campus interviews (because I know they make offers by the end of the day in most cases) and handwritten notes following call-backs.

    However, my husband (junior associate on biglaw hiring committee) was just opining the other day that thank you’s should always be e-mailed. His experience has been that the interviewers in the office all talk to each other informally within hours of the interview about whether they wanted to recommend the person or not.

  47. Thank you notes for OCI MUST be sent via email because decisions are made that same day. I had a friend who sent one via email right away, and thank goodness she did because she quickly found out that due to a snafu she had been accidentally left off the guest list for the offer party the next day.

    For call backs, it can be really difficult to send handwritten notes to the 6-8 attorneys you might be interviewing with. So I also went with emails for those. You could maybe send a handwritten note to the hiring partner to go along with the email.

  48. By the time the thank-you note arrives in the mail, your interviewer might very well have given the job to someone else. Most of my correspondence with any business contact these days is via e-mail, but especially with potential clients. I would feel very strange sending a handwritten note to someone I had only e-mailed with previously. E-mail the note.

  49. I would never, NEVER send a handwritten notes. Those should be reserved for your wedding thank you notes and for notes to grandma. In the business world, letters are typed. Type and email or snail mail your letters. It’s another way of demonstrating to your potential employer that you know how to communicate in a business professional manner.

    • I completely with ESB and others about the standard of professionalism. Handwritten thank-you notes are a must-do in SOCIAL etiquette. We are talking about business etiquette, and the two are, and should be, separate. This is not the time to show off your style, personality, and taste in fine papers. A brief, professional letter of thanks (typewritten and mailed) was formerly the standard. If swift delivery can be assured, then this practice should still be fine. Otherwise, email is the way to go.
      FWIW, my current job (big law lateral) was offered to me the morning after I interviewed. Although I doubt my same-day email of thanks resulted in the offer, I am glad I sent something in time for it to be considered.

  50. Email is fine, handwritten notes may even be a bit much, but a thank-you should be sent in some form. I RARELY get any thank-yous, even email ones, from law students I interview, and I find it very rude. And then, when I complain about “kids these days” being too entitled to bother to send a thank-you, I feel old and crotchety. Baaah!

  51. Two years ago I would have said hand-written note, hands down. Now I vote for email. People want instant gratification and often make near-instant decisions, whether it’s selecting you for a job or your agency for project. I find the email then snail-mail approach interesting though. No one has gotten backlash over too much of a thank you?

  52. I would stay away from clarifying things that came across poorly. Unless it was really, really bad, that just serves to highlight that aspect of the interview and leave that as the last memory of the interview in the interviewer’s mind.

    • I agree – Thank them for their time, mention one thing about you that makes you an obvious fit for the job, and sign off — Too long and they forecast you as being the office chatterbox, too pointed and you’re pegged as desperate – desperate may not disqualify you from the job, but it won’t help you in salary negotiations.

  53. For phone interviews, I send an email thank you so it arrives quickly. I know the search committee is likely to make a decision about who to move forward before a card arrives. For face-to-face interviews, I send hand-written notes from the city of the interview to assure they arrive quickly.

  54. I do email notes. I just landed my dream job, so the lack of handwritten didn’t hurt. I feel like it’s 2010, they are often traveling on blackberries anyway, email is just more with the times. Also, I actually AM very busy and don’t have time to do handwritten notes after negotiating contracts all day, leaving for an interview, finishing up work at night- it was the most I could do to write those emails without falling asleep. Also some of the interviewers only gave me their email addresses, which indicated to me that was what was expected.

    To play devil’s advocate- I worked for a guy who was admittedly a jerk lawyer, but he was against writing thank you’s at all. His theory was that the candidate is doing him a favor too- considering working there. Since it’s a mutual thing, he thinks thank you’s are unnecessary and silly. I sort of agree but prefer to play it safe and send something.

    • I’ve never heard of someone not getting a job because they sent a thank you (unless it was bad and/or had typos), but not sending it could hurt you. It would take a huge jerk to penalize you for following social niceties.

  55. I have been on both sides of the interview desk. I like handwritten notes. As someone stated, *business* letters are typed, but business notes are still handwritten. There’s a great book titled The Art of Writing Business Notes. Handwritten notes congratulating someone for a business recognition, or thanking someone for contributing an article or speaking, or enclosing an interesting article or other information, are still common. There’s an element of snobbishness to it as well, at my very, very white shoe law firm – showing that you “fit it” with the other attorneys.

    I email a thank you and write a follow up note. While the follow up note does first thank the interviewer, it goes further, elaborates on something we discussed, etc. Often the interviewer and I will discuss something that could lead to follow up. I have enclosed articles, etc. (once as an undergrad I enclosed part of my thesis – to my shock the interviewer read it, and it led to further collaboration. I had already gotten the job – investment bank).

    FWIW, I have indeed gotten handwritten notes from males interviewing at our, as I said *very* conservative and white shoe law firm.

    But I agree, bubbly handwriting is right out.

    • I think you hit it on the head with the element of snobbishness/fitting in. I don’t work for a conservative, white shoe firm, but I do know that many of my colleagues consider handwritten notes for all occasions to be de rigueur. I give and get them not just as thank yous but for congratulations, birthdays, etc. An interviewee who sends a handwritten note is, unbeknownst to the interviewee, signaling that he/she’s our kind of person. Likewise, sending a thank-you note to a firm where most people expect it via email may be signaling that you’re not their kind of person.

      • That’s the best part of working with a headhunter… the last time I changed jobs (to my current position), it was through a headhunter, so I got a heads-up on the company culture since he had worked to staff there before. When I went for the previous position that I had, I did so alone… And, honestly, in a brief interview, in a conference room in human resources, it is close to impossible delineate something as subtle as handwritten/e-mailed communication preferences.

      • If I worked in California, or in a tech related firm, or even in New York I may avoid handwritten notes.

        However, remember that while today’s law firm committment is not the lifetime committment of yesteryear, at a big law firm your personal and professional life are intertwined.

        The firm wants those who belong – or can belong – to city clubs, university clubs, country clubs. The firm wants those with deep contacts in the community at a specific level. The firm wants to encourage those who went to the best private schools, may sit on the board of those schools, etc. to continue to have those ties and tie those institutions to the firm.

        When I look at it clinically, it’s actually somewhat disturbing and exclusive. But it’s also the way of the world in many places.

  56. To keep track of handwritten correspondence, I type out the message and the date sent in the Notes section of that person’s entry in my Outlook contacts. Very easy to keep track of what, and when, I sent a personal message to someone.

  57. I think handwritten notes are important. I go to interviews prepared to write one, and bring one with me. This is my chance to say anything I may have missed in the interview – I always kick myself shortly afterwards.

    I like to make a quick stop at a nearby coffee house or restaurant, write out the note, taking my time, and then mail it that same day. If mailed in the same city, it will nearly always arrive the next day.

  58. I used to ALWAYS write handwritten notes after interviews, but I had one very bad experience. After a bank interview, I wrote and mailed cards to all the people I interviewed with, and I later found out that the most senior member of the group had not received his Thank You card. It was apparently lost in the mail. I was horrified when I later found out that he saw his colleagues opening their hand-written notes and wondered why I hadn’t sent him one. Since then I have always sent email Thank Yous to ensure that they are received.

  59. Maybe the best takeaway from this is that, as the people on the other side of the desk, we have to be careful not to judge some poor student/interviewee who has recieved nothing but conflicting advice and knows that, whatever they do, someone will find their actions to be unacceptable.

  60. While I was on the Recruiting Comm at my firm, I appreciated hand-written notes from students as long as they were neat. I was surprised by the bad handrwriting at times. More often, I received email notes, which are entirely acceptable these days (in my opinion).

    At the partner level, I have been taught that sending thank you notes is OUT. I have researched this on recruiting firms’ websites and there seems to be agreement that thank you notes are considered odd at the partner level. Perhaps because the playing field is levelled?


  61. Canadian Lobbyist :

    I would like to share my experience with thank you notes as my employers commented directly on my use of them (feedback – YAY!).
    I had an interview at my firm right out of grad school. After the interview, I sent a quick “thank you for meeting with me today” email to my interviewers. I followed this with a hand-written thank you note outlining more detailed comments on why I was good for the job etc. to each person. I “even” sent one to who I thought was “just” an admin-type who was present at the interview – thank god I did because she actually runs the whole office in the practical sense!
    A while later my boss commented that everyone was very impressed with how well-prepared I was at the interview and how I had all the etiquette down pat. Theysaid they especially appreciated the hand-written notes.
    I understand that both email and hand written notes might be too “too.” But I think being a young enthusiastic student may have meant I got away with being extra eager!

  62. If you are interviewing with a law firm, you should take into account the firm culture when deciding if you are going to email or send handwritten thank you notes. If you are interviewing with judges, I think you should send a handwritten note.

    My law partner recently received a handwritten note of congratulations from a judge. The note was congratulating her on on her election to a bar position. She really enjoyed the note written on nice stationary and getting it in the mail. I also sent handwritten thank you notes recently to some judges I interviewed with. Although I’m not a huge fan of my handwriting, it was appropriate for the situation.

  63. To the interviewers: please do have sympathy for us! It’s horrible to have to decide navy or black suit, skirt or pants, button down or shell, hair up or hair down, and then e-mail or hand written or typed and sent! Every decision will turn someone off!

    I have chosen to send letter press cards with a little design that is in a single color with handwritten notes. I post them the same day from the same city. I do this because I feel like I’m so buttoned up and professional throughout the whole process that I lose anything that is personal or memorable about me. I’m not wearing clothing or hair or jewelry that is interesting. My resume and cover letter are professional but not unique. I feel that a card shows just a bit more of my personality and might make me that much more memorable. E-mails all look the same on the screen. It also provides a multi-media experience. You got my e-mail, and digital documents. Then you saw me in person and could evaluate my body language and voice. And now you can see my handwriting and hold a physical representation in your hand.

    There are exceptions. If someone needs more information (references, writing sample, etc.) I’ll write an e-mail thank you and attach the documents. For OCI or larger firm interview where you meet 8 different people, e-mail is better because it is quicker to arrive and easier to do.

    I went out on a limb once. In the phone interview we discussed winter time and holidays in tropical locals as a side topic. I was aware that the interviewer celebrated Christmas and the interview was in December. I sent a Christmas card with Santa in a hammock on the beach and wrote my note in the card. I signed “from sunny California, ‘CJ in CA’ ” I don’t know what they thought specifically, but I did get a follow up interview. My goal was to make them remember ME specifically and our conversation.

  64. Experienced :

    Handwritten thank you notes for job interviews in the San Francisco Bay Area is not part of the culture. Men do not do it. When I became the interviewer, I thought it was girlie and trying too hard. Never got a note from a male job candidate.

    • I work at a law firm in San Francisco and have received hand-written thank you notes from male applicants. My reaction to them was they were different and showed strong interest in the position. My main problem was what to do with them afterwards. Throwing them away seemed wrong yet we don’t really maintain physical files for job applicants anymore.

  65. I don’t understand the point of thank you notes. I’ve been on both sides, interviewer and interviewee. In my experience as an interviewer, I can tell you that nothing in a thank you note will ever save a bad interview. I think that a thank you note can only hurt your chances and never help. If you do one poorly, then it can kill your chances. But even if you do one well, I just don’t see how it would make a difference.

    And as the person above said, I never received a thank you note from a male applicant. Always female.

  66. I have recently struggled with this and gone with the snail mail, typed note (for same reasons here – stationary seemed to personal, handwriting too messy); but now I’m faced with subsequent interviews where I’m working via a recruiter; I’ve had no emails of the individuals that I’ve interviewed with (all been through phone for now) and several are outside the US (so snail mail seems ludicrous). Here are my questions:

    What’s the best timing of the thank you note? Only after F2F interviews? After phone interviews, too (especially if interviewers are in another country)?

    When working via a recruiter who is interfacing to set up all interviews, I can ask that recruiter for contact emails or perhaps ask her how to get the “thank you” back to her?

    What about when you’ve had a ‘screening’ interview? When you’ve talked directly to the company’s HR group and they’ve gone through the very basics and then decide you can move to the next round. Send thank you’s to them, too?

    The interviewing world has changed SO MUCH in the 10 years since I’ve done it and any advice is welcomed.


  67. I send thank you notes by email for phone interviews because they get there fast. However, if my interviews are in person, especially if I visited the office, I send hand written notes.

  68. I feel like this can be a regionally specific answer. Being from and working in the Deep South, I know that a handwritten note is almost always preferred, though it should be really simple in terms of design and actual wording. Of course, an email is much better than a really ornate thank you card.

  69. Good points- I definitely agree on the emailed thank you note. We touched on it a little bit too in this recent posting this!

  70. I usually email a typed thank you note attachment with a digital signature. It got me noticed at the last job I interviewed for – and I got the job! Seems like a good compromise to me.

  71. As a medical student interviewing for residency positions, I found it interesting that during a prep session one relatively young Program Director recommended emailing rather than hand-writing thank-yous largely because it keeps the line of communication open. Still, I imagine preference might vary if someone older/more traditional is doing the hiring…

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