Lately the web has been filled with tons of drama around whether or not a hiring manager should reject candidates who do not send thank you notes. For more, read here.   It all started with an article on the Business Insider where the executive managing editor said her golden rule for the past 10 years was not to hire a candidate who didn’t send a thank you note.

I’ve been asked for my opinion on this so many times that I’m going to just post about it. I think it’s silly. I worked for an Industrial Organizational Psychologist for 6 years. My question is this? Why would anyone have this as a “knock out factor” for candidates if it is not predictive of job performance. I mean, let’s get real. Where is the research that says that if a job seeker who interviews does not send a thank you note it correlates directly to poor performance on the job.

I haven’t seen anything. That’s why this is all so sad. Why have a golden rule that is not backed up by the science of job search? It’s really ridiculous in a tight talent market to use hocus pocus, 8 ball level assessment techniques when the truth is that employers should be sending job seekers thank you emails!

This issue represents a classic demographic clash between Millennials and Boomers. In the Boomer days, when there was a ton of highly skilled talent, the talent had to send the thank you to differentiate themselves. Those days have been over for years. Now, there’s an acute shortage of qualified skilled talent. And employers seem to still act as though they are in the drivers seat in this job market.

Now, if you are a job seeker, as a Job Search Strategist, send the thank you email about 24 hours after. Etiquette is always nice and if you met with anyone else, you’d probably acknowledge the meeting. If you are a hiring manager, and don’t receive a thank you email, the candidate is trying to send a nice message. The message is, “I’m probably not interested in the role based on how you pitched the opportunity, but I can’t put that in the email.”

So hiring manager, if you don’t receive the thank you email, you should call the candidate and get their feedback. Find out if someone in the interview schedule conducted a stress interview, left repeatedly, took calls, or acted in a negative manner in any way. Over 30 years of Recruiting, candidates have shared endless negative stories of how they were treated in interviews. That’s why you should find out.

If you are a candidate, and aren’t interested in the role, it’s fine to send a thank you to the manager and indicate that you didn’t think this role was a match. And add that you would be happy to discuss further on the phone. I would not put detail in the email.
Below are my top reasons why I think The Age of Thank You Notes is over:
  1. There is no science indicating that candidates who do not send a thank you note performance poorly once hired, hence it is not valid and predictive.
  2. It’s a vestige of the past, like cover letters, and not truly needed with recruiting technology.
  3. Many hiring managers never share their emails with candidates and there’s a reason. They don’t want to get stalked by candidates. They want the Recruiter to deal with them.
  4. It could result in adverse impact.
  5. Most companies don’t do a good job of responding to candidates after interviews. Why is the burden on the job seeker to respond when companies do not.
  6. In a talent shortage, shouldn’t the employer be thanking the candidate for taking a PTO day to interview?
  7. If a candidate sends a paper thank you….please. Snail mail is super creepy.


The required post interview thank you note should go the way of the cover letter – towards obsolescence. If you want to do it, great. But eliminating someone based on it is just short sighted and non strategic.