Thank You Notes: Pardon Me But Your Attitude Is Showing

I know that job search is one of the most frustrating, at times ego-shattering, things a person can go through. You know you’re good. You know you will work hard. Why can’t they see that?

So by the time you actually get to an interview, many job seekers are already stretched thin when it comes to patience or willingness to see things from the other side. But this is exactly what you need to make it through the process.

In a comment on this blog one reader shared these feelings about sending a thank you note:

“How many times have they said ‘thank you’ to us for the time we have taken to see them? NEVER. So no, I do not feel they need another thank you from us. They already got one in person from us. They should be thanking us for making the time to see them. The thank you note rule that is taught to us is a lousy rule. I will thank them a second time ONLY after I am officially hired.”

Look, I totally get why a person might feel this way. But since the employer is the one with the job, maybe a little bending here both in attitude and action might be worth the effort.

Some Things to Consider

First thing to consider is that a thank you note is a nice extra reminder of who you are and that you go the extra distance. In only rare cases will it actually make the difference (sorry, but I never hired anyone just because of the thank you note), but it does leave a good feeling that may help you in your next round of interviews.

And who knows…this could be one of those rare instances. As readers have written to tell me, it does on occasion happen with the right note and situation. At the very least, it can leave a good impression that even follows you after you get the job.

But beyond that, if you walk into an interview with the attitude displayed above, you are probably not in the right frame of mind to give your best interview. One of the hardest things to get job seekers to believe is that we interviewers can feel their underlying attitudes. Even if they “slap a smile on” (as one job seeker said in a comment), that is not the same connection as being fully engaged with the interviewer and letting them see the real you as much as possible.

Of course, if being negative and resistant to what is required to get a job is the real you (an indication of how you might be once you get the job), there is more to think about than whether to send a thank you note!

What About Them?

I know some of you will be upset with me about this post. “Why is it all on us?” “Why can’t they treat us with more respect?” You’re right. The process stinks. In many cases interviewers don’t do all the right things (even when they mean to) and are horribly remiss in getting back to job seekers.

But this is the way work is also. There are many things that won’t go right. How you handle the interview process tells the company how you might be when you work for them. Rise to the occasion and do your best to work with them and not see them as the enemy. 

Meanwhile, also do your best to increase your chances by putting that energy into your own resume, cover letter, interview skills and job search techniques. Your best “revenge” is getting a job!

Some articles that might help:

15 Things I Look for When I Interview People

Job Interview Question: How To Handle Tell Me A Little About Yourself

10 Impressions You Leave Behind After a Job Interview

What Goes On Behind the Scenes After a Job Interview?

Help! I Get Nervous When I Interview for a Job

10 Steps To Match Your Resume to the Job

Is Matching Your Resume to the Job Description Cheating?

How Do I Ace My Phone Interview?

Did I Screw Up My Job Interview Thank You Letter?


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. GREAT post. I agree that thank you notes are a useful tool in the job search. I’ve said in other comments on this site that thank you notes have made a difference for me. More than once I’ve found out I was the only person interviewed that sent a thank you. Perhaps it’s better to think of it as another job search tool – like a cover letter – rather than a commentary on the attitude of the employer.

    It takes 15 minutes of my time to write and mail a thank you. When I have my act together, I remember to bring the blank notecard with me and do the thank you immediately after the interview and mail it. I’ve even dropped off the note with the front desk to be put directly in the interviewer’s box. (I want the interviewer to get the note quickly, before they make the decision on who to ask back for a 2nd round.)

    Unless you say something offensive, I can’t see any downside to sending the thank you note. The last sentence in your post is so spot on. I can’t control or change what the employer thinks or does, but I can control what I think and do. And that is the most effective use of my time.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Denise G! I was thinking of your other comments when I wrote this. So I’m especially glad you added some of your own thoughts. I love how you phrased this: “I can’t control or change what the employer thinks or does, but I can control what I think and do. And that is the most effective use of my time.” Right on!

    My best to you in your career and in this holiday season.

  3. I am preparing for a job I would really like and I have a very high recommandation from an individual working there so I want to make sure I give the best responses and I am sure one of the questions, they will ask is why i am currently leaving the job I am in?

    I wanted to say this but I believe it requires more tweeking…. could you help me prepare an excellent response.

    This is what I was going to say:

    Even though I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing and I have excelled at my current job, I’ve really always been interested in developing a career in the international development field and when this opportunity presented itself, I felt that this was the time to take the next step into the career I’ve always wanted.

    Thanks so much!

    • That sounds excellent to me, Belinda!

      If your friend told you about the opportunity, I think I would mention your friend’s tip as the reason you knew about the opportunity and applied for it.

      If true (!) – I would also mention that your friend is very enthusiastic about the company – the menagement, the people, the work, the culture, and the opportunities (whatever applies in this situation) – and you are excited about the possibility to join your friend working at such a great place.

      Don’t put words into your friend’s mouth, though. Presumably, it’s not a secret that your friend referred you for this position, but it would be ideal to get your friend’s permission to name drop and also find out what parts of that statement (manatement, people, work, culture, etc.) apply. Also see if your friend has any tips on what to say and what not to say.

      You have an inside source! Get (and use!) as much feedback and insight as your friend is willing and able to share.

      Goodl luck!


      • Thanks Susan,

        Can I ask you one more piece of advice? I am going to be in a wedding at the end of February and it’s not where I live which would require a week’s vacation. I did not except to be given this opportunity so if I have an interview, what do I tell them? Everything’s been paid for as well.

      • Hi Belinda,

        I would definitely mention it AFTER they make you an offer. Since it has been on your schedule for a while and since you are IN the wedding, it’s really not optional for you.

        Perhaps your start date could be moved back to after this wedding is over? It’s always nice to have time off between jobs – if you can afford it. I always jumped directly from job to job, and had a friend who managed to schedule a week or two of genuine “down-time” between jobs. She was able to completely relax during those times and be really rested to start those new jobs.

        Good luck!

  4. Hi all,

    I had a phone interview in the middle of January for my dream job. The phone interview went well and I was called in for a panel interview. Before the panel interview, the phone interviewer (who would be my direct supervisor if I got the job) emailed me a few times to provide info on the panel interview, the company etc. – in other words, we established a bit of a rapport. However, she did also tell me that they were at beginning of their interview process. The panel interview surprisingly went well. I say surprisingly because I thought I was bombing it. However, at the end of the interview, they asked me for references. The same day after the interview, I emailed them my references and a thank you email. My prospective direct supervisor responded to my thank you email saying it was nice to meet me and that she had emailed the references.

    The next day, i got an email from one of the references saying he had a lengthly conversation with the supervisor and that he spoke highly of me. he also said, the company seemed very impressed by me. But then I did not hear anything from the employer for a week so followed up. I sent an email to the supervisor asking whether she had been able to contact the other references and re-expressed my interest in the position. She responded with an email later that day saying that she has now contacted the second reference andjust had a conversation with her. She also said they expect to make a decisision on a candidate by the end of February — that things are moving a little slowly since some of the decision makers are travelling. The second reference also emailed me to advise that she has spoken with the supervisor and that they seem impressed by me.

    It is now 9 days since my follow up email and I have heard nothing. SHould I follow up again? wait until the end of February? Send an email to ask whether they had contacted the third Please help! I am so anxious – I feel good knowing that they have contacted my references…but the wait is driving me crazy!

    Also, I told them in the interview that I have only begun to seriously think about switching careers and make a concerted effort to find another job…which is true. However, I did sporadically apply to jobs in the past, including with this company (which is a huge company) but in a different department. I forgot about it until just recently and I am now worried that if they find out they will think I lied to them. The previous job application totally escaped my mind…should I do anything about this??

    • Hi Ambrea,

      I wouldn’t worry about that application to a different department a while back. I doubt that anyone would connect those dots, and I don’t see how it would adversely impact you if they did – unless it was a seriously unpleasant situation with personal accusations and law suits mentioned or implied.

      They have already told you that things are “moving a little slowly” since some of the decision makers are travelling. All the signs so far are very positive, so I would back off. They also said they’d make a decision “by the end of February,” which is more than a week away. In my experience, that’s usually an optimistic guess, particularly since it was made 10 days or so ago. And, it could take longer!

      So, if it were me, I wouldn’t contact anybody until the end of next week (24th), at the earliest, or even the 27th or 28th, if you can possibly wait that long. The process can get messed up by travel and people not being available at the “right” time for things to move ahead smoothly and quickly, the travel schedules may be conflicting, people get sick, and so on. All kinds of things, mostly having nothing to do with the candidate, get in the way.

      So, my recommendation is to back off. Keep job hunting, and try not to obsess about this one. I bet you get the offer. Keep us posted.

      Good luck!

  5. A week ago, I interviewed for a position for which I am not a perfect match in the experience department. However, I have many skills and abilities that could make me a good fit for the job. The owner of the business saw my resume on Craigslist and contacted me. He knew from my resume that I had not previously performed the exact functions that this position requires. We spoke on the phone and then I met him for the interview. The interview went well, and at the end, he told me he would email me a job description and would like to get my feedback. I said that would be great and thanked him. I have not heard anything from him. Today I saw an ad on Craigslist for the position for which I interviewed. It was posted two days after my interview. I have not sent any thank you emails or contacted him since the interview because I was expecting to receive the job description from him. Should I just forget it, or should I send a follow-up thank you email now, in the interest of goodwill? And maybe to make him feel a little guilty for lying to me?

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