rejecting anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you note is terrible hiring

There was a big kerfluffle on Twitter this weekend when the executive managing editor of Business Insider published an article saying that she refused to hire anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you note after their interview. It doesn’t matter if they were otherwise her top candidate — if they don’t send a thank-you, they get rejected.

Twitter was Not Happy.

Including me:

To be clear, post-interview follow-up notes are a good thing. I’ve written plenty here encouraging people to send them.

But for most jobs, the idea of rejecting anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you is preposterous — and it’s terrible hiring. A hiring manager who rejects an otherwise strong candidate solely because they didn’t send a thank-you note is a hiring manager who’s not clear on what the must-have qualities and skills are to excel in the role … and who subscribes to an increasingly outdated old-school way of hiring where employers think they hold all the cards, and candidates’ job is to kowtow to them. They don’t, and it isn’t.

Moreover, rejecting anyone who doesn’t send a thank-you is going to keep you from hiring candidates who come from backgrounds where they didn’t learn that particular job search convention, which many, many people do not: like people from less advantaged backgrounds, or people from families where their parents weren’t office workers, or many immigrants (thank-you notes aren’t a thing in many other countries). That’s going to have a disparate impact by race and class, so if you care about diversity and equity in your hiring, this is a terrible, biased practice.

People who hire need to be thoughtful about what it truly takes to excel in any given role and not create artificial tests that have nothing to do with that. There are some jobs where sending thank-you’s might actually correlate to the skills you’re hiring for, like for fundraising roles or PR jobs. But for most jobs, there’s just no correlation between who was taught to send a thank-you and who will excel once you hire them.

At its core, a hard and fast rule of rejecting anyone who doesn’t send a post-interview thank-you is about old-school, outdated power dynamics in interviewing. Fortunately, those are changing.

P.S. I appreciated this:

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