Companies Should Send Candidates Thank-You Notes, Too

It's a Great PR Move for Prospective Employers

By Published on .

Paul S. Gumbinner
Paul S. Gumbinner
After an interview, it's surprising that only about 60% of candidates send a thank-you note (an even smaller percentage sends them after visiting with a recruiter). Aside from being an expression of good manners, a short note expressing interest can go a long way toward promoting a person's candidacy.

Of course, much has been written about thank-you notes in terms of job seekers. But I wanted to tackle something that, to my knowledge, has not been suggested before: Interviewers should send them to candidates, as well.

I would like to propose that this should be the policy at every advertising agency.

The idea crystallized for me recently when a candidate of mine interviewed at an agency. Afterward, the director of account management sent her an e-mail. He took time out of his very busy schedule to thank her for her time and her interest in his agency. She was blown away by the gesture and called to tell me that she was utterly impressed and how much she wanted to work for this company.

In the exigencies of day-to-day business -- meetings, tasks, calls and e-mails -- it's easy to forget about the person who was just in. But every executive should realize that they may be the only person a candidate ever meets from their company. How the interviewer presents herself both during and after the interview may determine how the interviewee will think of her and the company.

It's natural that most companies and their employees are what I call corporate-centric. They believe that everyone interviewing with them wants to work for them. But it's important to remember that while a candidate is being interviewed, the interviewee is also interviewing the company. A short note to the candidate can go a long way to alleviate any problems that may have occurred -- perhaps the candidate was kept waiting, or there may have been disruptions or distractions. An e-mail with a note of explanation or apology (yes, an apology) can positively influence a candidate's perceptions. Part of the job of seeing people is purely public relations. Remember that a visitor's time is as valuable as the interviewer's time.

It's all too common for interviewees to receive no feedback after an interview. It is particularly bad when a candidate is told that there will be next steps and then do not hear anything. It is even worse when they have had several interviews and then their candidacy falls into a black hole of no communication and they never find out what happened. And in this day and age of simplified and instant communications, there's no excuse for that.

A simple e-mail thanking the candidate for his or her time and relating the status, if any, of the interview process is both necessary and welcome. People deserve feedback after an interview. Believe it or not, often even their recruiters are unable to find out what happened (an HR person once told me that the trouble with recruiters was that they wanted too much information!).

I would propose that every company designate someone to track candidates and be sure they are kept informed and up to date. It is a small gesture that will ensure goodwill.

Paul S. Gumbinner is president of the Gumbinner Co., New York. Before starting his executive-search firm in 1985, he spent 20 years in advertising, as an account person in categories including package goods, cosmetics, broadcasting, financial services, publishing, retail and fast food.
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