Do you know that your interview thank-you can cost you the job?
When I did executive search, it happened to one of my candidates.
Here’s the story:
The Interview Thank-You Nightmare
Several years ago, I sent the perfect candidate out to a client to interview for her dream job.
The company, a market leader in a disruptive industry, provided deliciously challenging positions and planned to pay well into 6-figures for the job. Plus, they had gorgeous waterfront offices in a popular Seattle suburb.
My candidate fit the position perfectly — a 10 on the hiring manager’s scale of 1 to 10.
She had a great interview, got good feedback on-site, went back to her office, and fired off a thank-you note to the hiring Vice President — in which she misspelled his name.
He cared. I got a call saying the candidate was out of contention solely because of the mistake. No appeals allowed. He felt as though it said something about her
lack of attention to detail that mattered to him.
In case you want to know more, Mac Prichard of Mac’s List and I discuss what happened here (the story starts at 1:10):
The Interview Thank-You Protection Plan
So, what do you do to prevent yourself from making the same mistake my unfortunate candidate did?
- First, for remote interviews, check the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile for the correct spelling of their name. Almost no one gets it wrong there.
- If you interview in person, be sure to take several business cards with you.
- Then, at the end of each meeting, offer the interviewer your card and ask for one of theirs. No one walks around with business cards that misspell their name. No one.
- Finally, when you write your interview thank-you, make sure you use the name on the card. It’s that simple.
Don’t lose a great job because of a preventable misstep!
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Featured by FastCompany
Updated May 2022
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Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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I love the story you told. People never believe me when I tell them it’s the little things that get them hired or in this case not hired! How are you supposed to do big things, if you can’t do the little things. Thank you for including my article in such an awesome blog post! It really means a lot to me!
I went to an interview recently where the HR organiser had mis-spelled the name of one of the interviewers. I was expecting “Rex” when I got “Max”, I knew Max from another venue so wasn’t overly surprised but my estimation of the personnel dept and the company as a whole went down.
The little things do matter. I remember an Oracle DBA I worked with who was always looking for his “next job”. He was very (very) good at what he did and couldn’t understand why the interviews/calls weren’t coming in this time. After a few weeks of trying he asked me to look at his resume. The answer was obvious – he has misspelled ‘Oracle’ in his objectives at the top of his resume! He had sent this out to many of the top employers in the region (Minnesota) and was going to have a hard time recovering.
Grant — Ouch! Lucky you were on it. Donna
OMGosh, thank you Grant! Another good reason to get a business card. #WhenHRGetsItWrong
Thank you John…but YOU wrote the awesome blog post!
I wanted to say it kind of sounds like that VP was a jerk, but on the other hand, he does have a point about attention to detail. If they’re misspelling the name of the vice president, who’s to say they won’t misspell the name of client in the future (or something worse)? Although we might not realize it, our names are very important to us, and it can be very offensive to some people when you spell their name wrong. On the other hand, when you actually make an effort to remember someone’s name, it’s very flattering. Just the mere act of knowing their name makes them feel important, and again it shows how important our names are to us, even though it seems kind of silly when you think about it.
I thought he had a point. I didn’t try to influence his decision because it really upset him and we had other good candidates.
Another approach would have been to suggest keeping the person in the process with the intent to ask her references for examples about her attention, or lack thereof, to detail.
Still, this is an easy one to get right.
Thank you for adding to the conversation.