Stalker-Like Candidate Behavior? The Hand-Delivered Thank You Note…

Topic – Thank You Notes….

Question #1 – Are they necessary any more?

Question #2 – Do you penalize someone for sending an email thank you over a handwritten thank youHug_it_out note?  Which do you think your hiring managers prefer?

Question #3 – How would you feel about someone showing up on your doorstep a day or two after the interview to deliver a hand-written thank you note?

From Dennis Smith at The Fordyce Letter:

"Honestly, it’s intriguing. And really, I’m just curious…since when did “the experts” stop telling candidates to send thank you notes? Sure, I say that jokingly, because, even though I’ve only been at this for 12 years, it’s pretty much been like that since I joined the recruiting ranks. The Career Coaches instruct the job-seekers to follow-up with a well-written thank-you card, and, once-in-a-blue-moon somebody will walk the road less traveled and do something that blows me away.

In this case, the candidate followed up with an email within an hour of the interview, saying that she’d be delivering an appropriate thank-you. Sure enough, the next day she stops in the office with the likes of a thank-you card that, honestly, is likely the most well-written and appropriate card I’ve ever received.

Nicely done."

Here's my take – I agree with everything Dennis says in the clip above, but I'm not sure how the rest of the world feels.   First up, it takes a special candidate to walk in and deliver a handwritten thank you note.  The main thing a candidate needs to pull that off?  The verbal skills to understand what to say when delivering the note.  If a candidate has the verbal/presentation skills to pull it off, then it's a golden opportunity.  Most don't, and that's why they don't try it.

Here's my big question – what if the manager receiving the note doesn't have the presentation/verbal skills to handle the interaction?  Is that the point where it becomes a negative for that candidate, with the socially uncomfortable manager getting the stalker vibe from the interaction where none exists?

Thoughts?  Luckily, I believe the candidate with the skills to do this would not deliver a handwritten note unless they felt a strong connection to the manager with whom they interviewed.  If the manager didn't connect (because they didn't have the connection skills), then this golden candidate probably never delivers that note, even though they have the chops and ability to pull it off.

Too bad….

FOT Background Check

Kris Dunn
 Kris Dunn is Chief Human Resources Officer at Kinetix and a blogger at The HR Capitalist and the Founder and Executive Editor of Fistful of Talent. That makes him a career VP of HR, a blogger, a dad and a hoops junkie, the order of which changes based on his mood. Tweet him @kris_dunn. Oh, and in case you hadn't heard the good word, he's also jumped into the RPO game as part owner of a rising shop out of ATL, Kinetix. Not your mama's recruiting process outsourcing, that's for sure... check 'em out.


  1. Your last point is especially intriguing and I bet you’re right.
    But there’s something I don’t like about the hand-delivered thank-you note, however skillfully delivered: Most managers tend to be busy and I’m not sure I really want an unplanned second appointment with the candidates, however short; there are times when I could see being really annoyed that a candidate returned to essentially sell herself further after the time I set aside for the interview is over and I’m busy with other things. I know that sounds grinch-like, but it’s something to be aware of.

  2. Jessica Lee says:

    i would estimate that 1/3 of the candidates i interview actually follow through with thank you notes. email notes are fine – just something. i want to know you’ve thought about the role and interviews and have come away with greater understanding. perhaps you forgot to mention something. or maybe you were just pleased to have been asked to come in. bigger points for sending notes to all the individuals that interviewed you… and even bigger points if each note is customized to each individual.
    as for hand-delivered notes… it’s a nice touch, but i’m just going to hope that it is during your lunch hour that you’re bringing it over. i’d rather have the peace of mind that you’re still dedicated to your current employer and aren’t wasting time in the middle of the day with deadlines looming and deliverables to be produced to just bring me or a hiring manager a note.

  3. HR Minion says:

    It’s rare that I even get an emailed thank you note. I don’t think it will make up for a bad interview but it certainly will cause me to think more favorably of a candidate. That’s useful if you are in tight contention with other candidates.
    As far as cover letters go, if it doesn’t add anything to the resume, then why bother? I don’t like ones that are clearly generic or poorly written. And simply having one doesn’t make up for a bad resume either.

  4. Tim Tolan says:

    I always appreciate the time a candidate takes to send a hand written note. It usually tells me a lot. Hand-delivered is another story. Maybe a bit over the top for me… Let me tell you what does NOT work:-( I once had a candidate interviewing for a $200K+ position and the interviews with the executive team went very well. He sent everyone on the interview team a nice thank you note.
    Nice – right? Wrong. He sent the same note with the exact same wording to every executive! During the debrief everyone just shook their heads at such a rookie mistake. It spoke volumes. The note has to be sincere and needs to touch on something that came up during the interview WITH THE INDIVIDUAL conducting the interview.

  5. I’m all for the hand-written Thank You notes, as they make more of an impression than emailed ones. But an emailed one is certainly better than nothing. I don’t take points off for either, but sending a Thank You can certainly add to an already positive impression. (Won’t help a bad one).
    As for hand-delivered/in-person, I think that can tend to make the the receiver feel at a disadvantage. As humans, if someone gives us something, we feel like we need to give something back. So the receiver may feel bad since they are now “behind” in the exchange.
    However, a hand-written note dropped of with the receptionist or assistant to give to the interviewer may be the best option. Shows the candidate took the time and went out of their way to deliver it, but didn’t put the hiring manager or HR person at a relational disadvantage. Just adds a nice touch.

  6. Todd Rogers says:

    Ditto to Tim T’s anecdote. If you’re going to write a bunch, make em’ personal.
    Hand delivered, as in, to the person who you met? Creepy. How about, take a card, envelope, and stamp with you to the interview. If you decide to use it, fill it out in your car and find a mailbox. Put it in, and move on.

  7. TalentFreak says:

    The hand delivered thank you is always interesting. Here’s an example that will give you a giggle – our firm had a talented individual apply and interview, but we didn’t have a position open that matched her strengths so we connected with her right away and told her we had put her in our talent pool and when a need arose she would be contacted and we could discuss moving forward (it’s a luxury we are fortunate to have – great candidates, but few openings).
    About 30 days after this she shows up on our front doorstep wearing a bathing suit, snorkel and fins and those little blow up floaties on her arms – confused and bewildered we asked about the crazy getup. She noted, I’m just hanging out in the Talent Pool and wanted to stop in to see if anything had opened up yet, I’d love to work here.
    Memorable – yes
    Unique – absolutely
    Slightly odd – definately
    So the in person thank you I don’t think you can stop it, so I say embrace it when it happens and try to remember all of the crazy stories because they will be plentiful.

  8. NorCalHRGrul says:

    I think thank you notes are fine, although I prefer emailed ones because I work for a green company, and we make clear during our interview process that we strongly believe in conservation, recycling, green issues, etc. If someone sends me a thank you email, I think they may have gotten our message. If someone sends 3 individual thank you notes to the interviewers, I think, “That’s nice, but they don’t get us, or they weren’t listening.” I won’t hold it against them, but I notice.
    If someone hand delivers a note and does anything other than leave it with the receptionist, I think that they lack respect for my time. Do people really think that HR people/hiring managers are just sitting around waiting for candidates to show up? It’s annoying to say the least.

  9. Even It Up! says:

    What is missing in this analysis is the POINT of writing a note, and whether is a payoff for the jobseker. Jobseekers write a note to create an impression, to influence perceptions and persuade recruiters that they are worth hiring. None of the comments above which talks about receiving notes actually says whether the person was hired. From a jobseeker point of view, that’s the crucial information, the missing link. Was a recruiter influenced to hire someone because they received a thank you note, emailed or otherwise?

  10. Deb Owen says:

    In my previous HR life, I never held it against a candidate for not sending a thank you note. But it made them stand out when they did. (Email was just fine though, thanks. It’s unobtrusive.)
    If by hand-delivered, you mean that they’re willing to drop the note off at the front desk if I’m unavailable. Well that’s fine.
    But is this person going to sit in the lobby and wait until I’m out of a meeting? Am I going to be paged and have to stop what I’m doing and come all the way from the back of the building because they just stopped by?
    Basically, that sounds like the equivalent of the sales cold-call. If you’re just dropping info off, okay. But please be respectful of my time and schedule. Thanks very much.
    I guess it’s like everything else — it’s a fine line.
    All the best!

  11. Wally Greene says:

    Lots of good anecdotes and thoughts here. Agree with Tim T’s opinion on the content – take a key point from your meeting with the individual and wrap it into a short, relevant thank you note. Email is fine in today’s business world; make sure to spell-check! Hand-written notes still do stand out as more personal. However, live delivery of the note is a real question, especially if you are going to show up unannounced at a recruiting firm…pretty much a no-no in most circles! A thank you note may not get you hired, but an unannounced live visit may create a negative impression.
    Best of luck to all in 2009!

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