THE BLOG

Thank You Notes: Yes or No?

02/06/2015 05:55 pm ET | Updated Apr 08, 2015

Dear HR Departments and Interviewers,

As the person responsible for interviewing prospective employees for your company, what are your thoughts on thank you notes after the interview? Do you expect one, appreciate the effort, keep the note on file? Or is a thank you note ignored or a nuisance? Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Regards,

Dayna Steele

The responses were unanimous recently when I asked my network whether or not Wonder Son 2.0 should write a thank you note to the person who interviewed him for a summer college internship. It began when I asked him if he had put a note in the mail. His response? "I've never heard you should do that." (Insert snarky attitude here.) How could he be MY son and not know that? I am a handwritten thank you note evangelist.

So, I posed the above question across my social media networks. Apparently dear old Mom was right:

  • Yes! Yes! Yes! Most definitely write one. Twitter

  • No thank you note? Resume goes into the round file. LinkedIn

  • When I interview someone and they write me a note, it gets stapled to the top of their resume. That makes their file stand out more than others in several ways. Good ways! Facebook

The responses are too numerous to take up your time here but suffice it to say they were 100% in favor of writing a thank you note after a job interview. So, Wonder Son 2.0 then says, "Well, how do I do it?" This is a well-educated, well-rounded, well-traveled kid with two professional speakers and authors as parents. If he doesn't know how to do it, then there are others, of all ages, who don't know as well.

Here's a handy guide to help out:

1. Start the process immediately; waiting more than 48 hours looks like you don't care.

2. Invest in nice quality note cards such as Crane products. This is not the time for your silly cat or flowery note cards.

3. Familiarize yourself with the proper format and positioning on the note card. You'd be amazed how many people don't know how to do that and cram the writing all in one corner of the card. Practice on a piece of like-size paper if you have to.

4. Use a proper beginning, a proper salutation, such as Dear Mr., Mrs. or Ms. Do not use a first name unless you feel VERY comfortable being that familiar with the interviewer.

5. Take your time; don't worry about your handwriting but watch spelling and don't leave words out. Don't get in a hurry and don't scratch out mistakes and keep going. Get another card and start over.

6. Three lines are all you need unless you feel you have more to say. This is not a dissertation - it is a thank you note. Note being the key word here - brief and to the point. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. It would be a great opportunity to work/intern for the XYZ Company. I look forward to speaking to you again soon. And, use a proper sign off such as Regards or Thank you and then your name. Just your first name is fine or you may add your last name as well, your call on this one - whichever feels best to you.

7. Confirm whom you need to send this to along with their correct name spelling and address. Format the envelope correctly and neatly - again, no scratch outs.

8. Mail it immediately - within that same 48 time frame as #1. You want that note to arrive as quickly as possible after your interview, definitely before anyone else's does!

9. Bonus tip: the US Post Office has quite the array of stamps - some serious, some fun, some for favorite causes, etc. Choose something professional and non-controversial.

Something as simple as a handwritten thank you note can turn out to be the most powerful tool you have in your interviewing skills toolbox. Don't overlook it - for job interviews or anything!

Wonder if he'll write me a thank you note for this? :-)

Dayna Steele is often called The Daily Success Expert. Her simple yet 'ridiculously sane' advice is shared daily on YourDailySuccessTip.com. She is the author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World's Greatest Rock Stars and the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series as well as a rock radio Hall of Famer. Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele. She writes dozens of thank you notes every week.