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Sending a Thank You Note Too Quickly

Sending a Thank You Note Too Quickly

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I have a question about thank-you letters after an interview. In today’s world of cell phones being able to do email, I can actually have the thank-you letter sent before I even leave the interviewer’s office. I literally just said thank-you and shook hands three minutes ago, and am sending the thank-you email already?

I try to include a comment about the conversation to try and remind them or to stay on their radar, but for the most part I can have the thank-you ready to go in a minute.

I recently adopted the rule that I should wait until the end of the day to send the thank-you. What do you think is the appropriate time frame for thank-you letters?

Well, first, any thank-you note is better than no thank-you note, regardless of timing. But since you asked: Wait at least a few hours. Any time between say, five and 48 hours post-interview is perfect. (But again, I’m only nitpicking because you asked!)

The reason it’s not ideal to send it just minutes after leaving the interviewer’s office is because it can feel a bit perfunctory — you haven’t even had time to reflect yet, you probably had the email or a template all ready to go before you even came to the interview, and you’re just checking off an item on your to-do list. And that may all be the case, but if you’re obvious about it, it feels less genuine.

From the interviewer’s perspective, the thank-you note doesn’t just signal manners; more importantly, it signals interest. I want to know that the job candidate went home, thought about what we talked about, digested it all, and concluded that she’s still enthusiastic about the position. That’s what getting a thank-you note tells me — as long as enough time has passed for that to be realistic.