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Wipe Your Nose Off, Son

by adam at 02:01 PM on May 18, 2004

I've been chronically underemployed for the last year or so, and in this I'm hardly alone. I've been sending out a lot of resumes, and for most of this time I've gotten nothing - scarcely even an automated email response, never mind actual phone calls or interviews. So imagine my suprise when - within the course of two weeks - I've had/will have four interviews. So far they're going well.

Or at least that's what I thought. Apparently I forgot what several web sites protest is a vital part of the interview process - the thank you note. Opinions seem to vary, but I found all kinds of pages saying that not sending one is rude and that most employers won't even consider an applicant who doesn't send one. I've never even heard of the practice, and yet when I do interview I usually do well despite my failure to follow it up with faux enthusiasm.

Am I alone in thinking that this is a hopelessly shit-eating gesture? I think part of the problem is that I began my working career during the heady days when your employer wasn't doing you a favor by employing you - they needed a worker, you had a pair of hands and a brain for hire, and that was that. You scheduled your interview, did you thing, and then everyone shook hands and said thank you, etc. These things always ended with, "We'll contact you when we make our decision." That's exactly how this interview went.

In these days of mass resume-bombardment, most employers don't bother writing notes acknowledging the receipt of an application. That's fine. This specific employer kept me waiting for 15 minutes - something which would've been completely unacceptable had I done it, but on their part is a calculated signal that my time is unimportant. This was a mild irritant, but I can live with it. Several questions of mine which the interviewer couldn't answer but for which he promised he'd get answers have gone unanswered. Also fine - if/when they make me an offer, we can cover those issues. But now I'm expected to thank him for interviewing me?

I know that I'm hardly the most polite person in the world, and so I ask: Why is this necessary? I said 'thank you' after the interview itself, he said he'd contact me. Am I missing something here (other than a job)?

comments (13)

I feel like an old timer syaing this, but it's been so long since I've had a job interview, I can't even remember what's genteel.

How about just throwing a sock full of shit?

by lajoie at May 18, 2004 4:38 PM

When I've interviewed people in the past, if I could tell that they were a smart, motivated, effective person, I couldn't have cared less if they sent me a thank you card - I would have assumed they have too much else to do, and I'd be lucky to hire them before they were snatched up elsewhere. However, if I was at all on the fence, or had no memorable impression of them, it might serve to inform me that they were thorough and paid attention to detail. Otherwise, as one of those little nice formalities, for some people it's just another mostly un-necessary piece in a puzzle. Like a good hand-shake, some people shake with meaning and conviction, some people offer you dead fish hand. For some it matters, for others it doesn't.
The difference between saying thank you in person versus by courier, is that after you've left, there is time to reflect, and the note serves various purposes: 1.) The chance not just to say thanks, but also to add something about your impression of what you learned while you were there - thus pointing out to your interviewer that you pay attention, and absorb information from environments and interactions with others. 2.) to put yourself in the forefront of their mind once again. 3.) It gives you the chance to confirm, after being interviewed, that you would enjoy the chance to work there.
So it might not be necessary, and fakers will always do it, but those with ernest enthusiasm will also do it, and even with such a small gesture they will further be able to distinguish themselves.

by chris at May 18, 2004 4:41 PM

funny how Lajoie and I are on the same wavelength. I was going to add, "that's the optimistic view. The pessimistic view (and the mood I'm in right now): it's just another horse-shit formality"
so if you're going to throw a sock full of shit, I'd recommend a sock full of horse shit. It's the more socially acceptable excrement.

by chris at May 18, 2004 4:46 PM

Chris, you've inadvertantly won my alternative political slogans with the most potential award for today.

"Democrats: The more socially acceptable excrement."

Get it while it's hot.

by lajoie at May 18, 2004 4:58 PM

gee thanks. I thought it sounded catchy.

by chris at May 18, 2004 5:19 PM

I'm 45 and had 1 job interview in my life. In that case, the office manager owed me a ton of money for some stuff he inhaled off a Pac Man machine. He settled the debt with my job and a motorcycle. The quasi-interview with his assistant was a joke. Halfway through he just said, "Look, you know and I know this is a done deal so let's go get a drink and celebrate." That's how interviews should go.

by anna at May 18, 2004 7:13 PM

It does indeed sound like hooey. I don't think I sent a thank-you note for any of the interviews I had before getting this job (I don't remember now if I had heard of the practice then [3 years ago] at all, or if I had and thought it was stupid).

I think the point of the note is to stay stuck in the interviewer's mind after the fact. Seeing as it's a seller's market right now for jobs, and employers are probably getting tons of applications, a thank-you note does make some sense (I'm reluctant to say) but, on the other hand, there's probably some way to phrase it so you're not prostrating yourself at their feet in gratitude for even seeing you. As Chris said, it could be used as a way to show you'd been paying attention and have some insight or something.

If you do send a thank-you note to an interviewer, you should be allowed to then send a fuck-you note to them if they don't hire you after that.

by Adam L. at May 19, 2004 9:22 AM

I hate the concept of thank-you notes for the sheer redundancy of them.

*shudders with guilt at the past 10 years of good intentions, but no follow through as far as thank you notes to grandparents*

I don't like forced gestures, period. But indeed I admit if I just interviewed 2 people & liked them equally, a sincere note after the fact might sway me.

I like the thank-you email better: it's quick & painless. When I was unemployed 3 years ago, I sent emails to the interviewers to reinforce my eagerness to stop living on my credit cards.

by Linz at May 20, 2004 9:11 AM

I believe a thank you note can serve a purpose. As mentioned above, if you didn't leave a strong impression after the interview, it could be a way to show that you really want the job and set you apart from the others. Unless, of course, all the other applicants sent thank you notes. I was always a fan of the follow up call. It is a good way to send the message that you really want the job and is more "in your face", if you will. I have never made a follow up call, or two, where I didn't get the job. I think most employers want go getters, whatever the fuck that is, and if you take the time to follow up that shows you're willing to go the extra mile to secure the job.

by Ezy at May 20, 2004 6:14 PM

I think it is best to cut thru all the formalities and suck the interviewer's dick.

by anna at May 20, 2004 10:26 PM

Anna, you fucking slay me man.

by Ezy at May 21, 2004 10:11 AM

Anna, that's a little gender biased.

You're just as likely these days to have to suck a pussy to win a job.

by lajoie at May 21, 2004 11:43 AM

I've had many potential employers make me wait before my interviews, too. In an ideal world I would turn them all down and then post their names and companies on a Web site. But alas.

To be sure that I kissed premium butt while applying for graduate school, I bought these ultra-premium Crane's thank-you cards. I have no idea if they'll get me anywhere, but I suppose it's one less chance to take.

by jean at May 27, 2004 2:19 AM

comments are closed