Interviews are tiring events for everyone. The interviewee has to be “on” all the time. But the interviewers are taking time out of their busy schedule to meet with you. Academics always feel overwhelmed and time-stressed. Staff are often underappreciated. Thank you notes acknowledge the time and energy dedicated to your interview.
Should I Send Thank You Notes? Yes. You won’t be cut from the shortlist for not sending a thank you. But you DO appreciate people’s time, don’t you? Why not show it? This reflects a level of class and professionalism. Who wouldn’t want to hire the classiest, most professional applicant?
Should I Send a Thank You Note to Staff? Yes. I always send a thank you note to the staff who helped arrange the interview. I have gotten reports from my admin during faculty interviews ranging from, “She seemed really nice. She asked me questions and was interested in the area” to “We drove in silence the whole way.” Staff can subtly alter the perception of your visit- let them know their hard work is appreciated.
Should I Send a Thank You Note to Faculty? Maybe. I recommend sending one to anyone you spent a significant amount of time with. These will be the individuals who directly interviewed you. If you had a large session with 20 faculty for an hour, I wouldn’t send a note to all of them. But if you had lunch with 2 faculty, a note to each is suggested.
Should I Send a Thank You Note to the Hiring Managers/Committee? Yes. If applying for an internship/residency/faculty position, you should send thank you notes to the decision-makers. For faculty positions, this is the search committee and the department chair, possibly to include the Dean. For internship/residency positions, this is whomever is in charge of those programs, assuming you met with them (Intern Training Committee, group of specialists for residencies, etc.).
What Should I Say? I recommend personalizing each note as much as possible. If you can remember a specific topic discussed with that person, mention it in the note. If not, you can make it generic. It does not need to be long- 3 sentences are plenty. Begin with “Dear Title Lastname,” and end with “Salutation, Yourfirstname Yourlastname”. Do not use your title in your salutation. Respectfully, sincerely, with thanks, and regards are all good salutations.
What Form Should the Note Take? This is up to personal opinion so I will not be prohibitive here. Your options are email and a physical thank you card. I personally prefer to send a physical thank you card, but an email in this day and age is acceptable. I feel a physical thank you card is a little classier and more consistent with my professional image- I am a little bit old school and a little bit formal. It can also be hard to find email addresses for some individuals. If you are concerned about a physical card arriving after the decision-making group meets, an email may be preferable. Decisions are rarely made less than a week after an interview, though, giving plenty of time for a physical note to arrive.
What Happens if I Don’t Send a Thank You Note? Probably nothing. For vet school, those who interview you may not be on the selection committee. In this case, after the interview is over, they have no say in your selection. For internships, residencies, and faculty positions, those who participate in interviews will probably have varying levels of influence on any hiring decisions. I’ve never heard anyone say, “Well, that person didn’t send a thank you note, so I think we should put them lower.”
Does a thank you letter change them from a “no” vote to a “yes” vote? Unlikely. In the event of two equally qualified candidates, does getting a thank you letter cause them to vote slightly higher for that candidate? Possibly. It is a very low-cost action to take which may ever so slightly improve your chances of success. Why not send a thank you note?