No thank you.
This is the stripped down, simplified, direct answer to “Do I need to send a thank you email?” I would even argue it’s the answer to *should* I send a thank you email.
I get plenty of email. Way more than I want. Too much, you might say. And while I appreciate and value good manners… No, thank you.
A lot of landing a great job — a job that pays well, is prestigious, and that you’re excited to work at everyday– comes down to a few big things. Where did you go to school? Where do you currently work? What is your skillset? Can you solve a specific type of problem?
Like getting in shape or learning a second language, making tangible progress in these areas takes a serious commitment. It takes hard work. Most of all, it takes time. You can’t change any of these factors over night.
But you can obsess over many trivial things, most of which you can immediately tweak. Whether or not to include an objective statement at the top of your resume. Whether to bold or italicize the name of your previous employers. Whether 11pt is too large, too small, or just right.
Whether you should send a thank you email or not.
Recently someone was telling me about an interview experience they had. In short, they flubbed a question. The misunderstood what the interviewer was asking, got started down the wrong path, and ended up answering pretty poorly. After the interview, they realized the error they had made, and they wondered if they could send a short thank you email and along with it reframe the misaligned answer.
My honest response? “Couldn’t hurt, probably won’t help.”
Maybe this is unfair. We all have communication hiccups and missteps. You can’t always be on your A game. But I view this type of followup as a true Hail Mary pass. You’re trying to steer yourself back out of the ditch, but likely the damage is already done (and often the interview debrief will have occurred within a few hours of your interview.)
I have never once decided to hire someone but then thought “Wait, they never sent me a thank you email. 😡” and didn’t move forward. Similarly, I have never had someone “fail” an interview and then change my mind with their charming and persuasive follow-up note. I am very confident most hiring managers feel the same way.
The truth is, this is one of those questions everyone asks, and the actual answer is.. it doesn’t matter. At all.
Some hiring managers and recruiters may disagree with me. They may say that sending thank yous shows character (and failure to send them is a moral failing.) Perhaps I’ve grown bitter from running on the treadmill of trying-to-reach-inbox-zero for the last decade. Ultimately, it is a kind gesture and there’s no harm in sending a short note of appreciation. I’m not a jerk, I swear. If you send me one, I’ll certainly read it (along with my 9000 other emails) and probably send you a short note back.
But if you ask me if you *should* send a thank you note?
No thank you.