Career Advice Tuesday – “Did I Thank Myself Out of a Job?”

November 22, 2011

Dear Infosecleaders:

I recently went on an interview for an information security engineer position.  During the interview, I met with five different people, from human resources to the Chief Information Security officer.   After each interview I asked each interviewer for their business card and contact information, for the purpose of writing them thank you notes.

The day after the interview, I sent a thank you note to the group.  I sent one e-mail, and CC’ed everyone whom I met with expressing my gratitude for their time, my interest in the position, and some additional information.

It has been a week since I went on the interview, I have not received any definitive feedback from the human resources person, just a “We’ll get back to you” and not one of the additional interviewers have sent me a response to my thank you note.

Can you let me know how I should interpret this?  Do you think there was something wrong with my “Thank You” note?


Will Mannered


Dear Will:

To answer your question, I am pretty confident that you did not get the role.  I can say this because no one has responded to you at all, and even provided you with positive reinforcement from your interview.  The fact that the HR person did not share anything substantial with you is a subtle way of saying – “ I want to be careful what I say, so I do not get myself in trouble.  I do not want to provide you with feedback, especially in writing, because if I say the wrong thing, I may get fired.”   Technically you may be still “under consideration” – but that is only until you get a form letter in the mail or via e-mail.

The reason that you have not heard from many or any of the information security staff is likely for the same reason; the company likely has a policy that states all negative responses are to come from Human Resources, for the very reasons stated above – that a non “PC” response could expose the company legally.

It is definitely a shame that no one had the personal courtesy to respond to your note, even if it was a simple, “Thank you for interviewing us.  I enjoyed the time we spent together”, but unfortunately that is the world that we live in.    Although that would not provide you with any substance, it would at least provide you with some confirmation that your note was received.

All those things aside, I will tell you that writing a group “Thank You” is probably an error on your part.  By sending one thank you note, as opposed to five separate ones, can be interpreted in many ways.  The first would be is that you are lazy – that you could not even write five short notes.  The second is that you value all of your conversations the same, and could not address the specific levels of the conversations that you had.   Finally, by addressing the group, it does not allow you to connect with anyone interviewer in a one-on-one manner.  Since the group knows that you sent everyone the same thank you, they may feel that they cannot respond to you “anonymously”.

In the future, send individual notes.  Each note should have the same general message, but you should draw some specifics from each interview and potential working relationship, to reflect the context of the interview.  Doing this will demonstrate that you were listening to each interview, and it will personalize the discussions.  You may even create more of a bond with one of the interviewees – and the thank you note may strike a personal chord, that may help them champion your cause during any deliberation.    In addition, you may choose to “connect” with them on Linked IN – or in some other industry group or social network that you may share, that may provide another personal “link” and common point of interest.

In closing, do not take it personally that they did not respond.  Think carefully the next time you send a Thank You note- and never forget to check your spelling!

Chalk this up as a learning experience, and good luck on your interviews with your next potential employer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Behavior, Career Advice Tuesday, Interviewing, Recruiting 


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