Thank-You Letters: Not a Magic Bullet But Can Still Tip the Balance in Your Favor


The writer of Ask a Manager recently responded to a reader who was disappointed to be rejected for a job after sending a thank-you letter. Ask a Manager’s response aligned with everything we know to be true about thank-you letters. Here are the main points:
If you’re not the best candidate for the job, a thank-you note isn’t going to change that. No one is going to hire the lower-tier candidate just because of a thank-you note.
If you’re the undisputed top candidate, the lack of a thank-you note probably isn’t going to stop you from being hired.
However, when the decision is close between you and another candidate, a thoughtful thank-you note can tilt the scales in your direction — especially if the note isn’t just a perfunctory “thank you for your time” but contains substance that builds on the conversation you had during the interview.
A thank-you note contributes to the overall picture of a candidate. It’s not generally make-or-break, but it’s a piece of the picture. It serves two functions: (1) It signals that you pay attention to the little things and care about presenting the best possible face to your candidacy. (2) It signals interest, by showing that you went home, digested everything you learned in the interview, and concluded that you’re still enthusiastic about the position. That can matter.
That show of enthusiasm and thoughtfulness is so important. We offer a Post-Job-Interview Thank-You-Letter Worksheet that shows a number of ways to leverage an interview in your thank-you letter.