Further Questions: What value do you place on the post-interview email or mailed thank you note?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

What value do you place on the post-interview email or mailed thank you note? What advice do you have for individuals interviewing with large committees–do they contact everyone they meet? Or what about other libraries that may not make email addresses easily accessible online–should candidates call and ask for an email address? In short, does sending a note (or not sending one) make or break a candidate’s chances?

In my 10+ years of hiring, I’ve only received thank you notes twice and they didn’t have any bearing on my decision-mostly because the decision was already made by the time I got the note. When we interview here, we usually interview all the candidates on the same day and make the decision quickly. For me, the deciding factor is the interview. A note is nice, but not as nice as a good, solid interview. Say thank you and shake hands at the end, that’s sufficient for me. I think I’m detecting a theme in all my replies to these Hiring Librarian questions: interview well. It’s not an easy skill to acquire, especially if you get nervous or flustered easily, but I can’t stress it enough.

– Margaret Neill, Regional Library Branch Manager, Main Library, El Paso Public Library

Laurie Phillips

If you don’t catch all of the names, it’s perfectly okay to email the chair of the committee – especially if the chair is the one with whom you’ve been communicating. I personally prefer email, but if you don’t have an email address, it’s fine to mail. Keep in mind, though, depending on where you are in the process, we might have already made a decision about your candidacy before we get a mailed thank you note. I like getting follow-up notes from candidates myself. That said, I had one candidate who shot himself in the foot in his thank you note to me. He was fairly aggressive in recommending a course of action with a project we identified for the position and he continued to make recommendations in his thank you note. He knew very little about our situation and, honestly, it wasn’t that we didn’t know how to handle the project. We just needed someone to do it. So I would say, yes, send one, but don’t be obnoxious in your note.

– Laurie Phillips, Associate Dean for Technical Services, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans

angelynn kingA thank-you note is good business etiquette. One copy is sufficient — the committee members should be able to pass it around. If no e-mail address is available, write a paper letter.

It’s not make or break, but it will be noticed. It’s one of those things you should do regardless of whether or not it “gets you the job.”


-Angelynn King, Head Librarian, Delaware Technical Community College, Owens Campus

Marleah AugustineI think sending a note (whether by mail or email) is thoughtful and a nice gesture, but it in no way makes or breaks a candidate’s chances. Usually I’ve made a decision based on the content of the interview, application, and information from references.


– Marleah Augustine, Adult Department Librarian at Hays Public Library

Samantha Thompson-FranklinI think that it’s important for a candidate to send a thank you note to the members of a search committee after their interview, but whether it’s sent by email or regular mail does not matter. I’ve been on committees where I have received both and either has been fine with me. If you are interviewing with a large committee, I think that it would be appropriate to send one note to the search committee chair and extend it to the other members of the search committee. If email addresses are not readily available, then I would advise to call and ask for the email address of the search committee chair and send a note to that person. They could then forward that email on to the other committee members. Sending a note or not sending a note does not make or break a candidate’s chances at a job but it shows respect and appreciation to the committee for taking the time to meet with you.

– Samantha Thompson-Franklin, Associate Professor/Collections & Acquisitions Librarian, Lewis-Clark State College Library

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

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Filed under Further Questions

3 responses to “Further Questions: What value do you place on the post-interview email or mailed thank you note?

  1. MLISunderstanding

    I had a good interview experience with 3 panelists (the branch manager, the supervisor for the targeted services, and another librarian who did some of the same work as the role they were hiring for and worked closely with others in the same role). I got the first and last names of the first 2, but only the first name of the 3rd (or at least that’s all I retained), so once I got home that same afternoon, I called the administrative office to see if the HR person who’d recruited me and taken my paperwork that day could give me the 3rd person’s full name. Unfortunately, this was the day before a holiday and that HR rep wasn’t available. I sent an email requesting that info instead. In the meantime, I did some research and found the 3rd librarian on LinkedIn (the profile showed first name, last initial, and role at that library) and Facebook (showing the full name, library employment, and mutual friendship with another librarian acquaintance), then followed the firstname.lastname convention for the library system’s email addresses when sending my thank-you email to all three. I felt good both for being prompt and for using my research skills.

    The next week, after the holiday, the HR rep returned my email — whoops! I’d emailed the wrong librarian; my 3rd interviewer had the same first name (spelled differently) and the same last initial. Only slightly awkward; no personal or confidential information was disclosed — only that I had been interviewed for a publicly-posted position, which was fine. And the good news is I was offered the job!

    Liked by 1 person

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