I've recently been performing a number of interviews, and many of the candidates send follow-up emails just to say "thank you". My question is, what's the best way to respond? All of the following seem bad:

something like "thanks, nice meeting you, cheers"

Too short.

something like "Looking forward to working with you in the future"

Seems to me to be too indicative of a positive outcome, which hasn't been decided yet.

"best of luck with future work"

Seems to me to be too indicative of negative outcome, which again hasn't been decided yet.

I should note that I'm not the only one making the decision—there are a number of interviewers, and I'm going to be one of the people providing feedback to the ultimate decision-makers. Any suggestions?

  • 25
    Why respond at all? I would note the good manners of the gesture and contact them when I have made my final decision. Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 14:20
  • 2
    @eykanal - If you are not prepared to give them a personal response, when you make a decision, do not give them a response. They are sending you these emails as a means, to highlight their strengths, although your examples are likely from applicants unlikely to be choosen ( except the first one ). If you are not prepared to tell them the reason they were not choosen at the end of the process its best not to respond. I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing more frustrating then getting a response from somebody I wanted to work with who simply says "You were not choosen"
    – Donald
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 15:17
  • 3
    But then, have you thought about how they should respond to your response? Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 19:51
  • 3
    @albert: maple_shaft's answer was that he would contact the interviewee when the decision had been made. I agree with you that no response at all is just rude.
    – user145
    Commented Apr 28, 2012 at 13:10
  • meanwhile, in the real world... no response is frequent. It's wrong and it sucks. But it happens and it's happened to me after full day interview meetings too. Accept and move on. Commented Aug 2, 2012 at 3:18

7 Answers 7


In situations in which I am on a committee, and I receive thank you notes from individuals, I do not respond. The only instance in which I would respond would be if I were the committee chair.

When I do respond, as either committee manager or as an individual interviewer (when there's no committee), I keep my acknowledgement brief (and I only respond if it's an emailed thank-you): "Thank you for your interest, and for taking the time to talk with us about the position. Our decision timeline is..."

  • 3
    +1 - generally I don't respond (and I don't expect people to respond to my follow-up "thank you for the interview" letter), but if I did this is how I'd handle it.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 17:44

Thank you notes are considered a one way message with no requirement or expectation of a response when received. They are a token sign of grattitude and a last attempt to make a postive impression on the interviewer.

Unless of course the sender asked you a question or made a statement that you decide you would like them to explain more.

  • 2
    Indeed. "Thank you for your thank you note." ... "Thank you for thanking me for my thank you note." ... "Thank you for..." The rabbit hole gets deep fast. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 16:32

I hit this one too - I've stared at a blank page for up to 20 minutes thinking "geez, a simple "your welcome" should not be so hard!"

I agree that 2 out of 3 of your samples are too indicative. Sadly, in this day and age, it seems we have to be very careful at anything that sounds like a commitment.

Here's some stuff I've felt OK with:

  • I enjoyed speaking with you, as well, thanks for following up! - and I have some permutations of these that are less positive in cases where it really wasn't great speaking with the person (in fact I wanted that hour of my life back) - things like "it's always enlightening to get to meet new people".

  • Adding in more details about the follow up process - particularly if we did not have that conversation at the interview (frequently I let HR do it).

  • Answering any factual questions asked, or providing more info about a discussion point. My absolute favorite candidates are always people who prompted me to go do some research or thinking about the topics (this is like the top 10% people), and so I may mail back with - "you got me thinking about X, did you know about Y?" NOTE: These people are probably so awesome that I want to keep in touch, even if they don't come to work for me... networks are good!

Things I avoid:

  • any positive or negative impressions that could later evoke some presumption on the candidate's part
  • any feedback on the interview - I leave that to HR.
  • any information about other candidates, or my opinions on the hiring process, or the relative urgency of filling the position.
  • This is exactly why the best response is no response.
    – TonyK
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 17:32

I generally don't return them unless I am very sure we are going to offer him the position.

These things have a way of changing at the last minute. Some other manager vetoes it, HR finds some background questions at the final step, etc, etc.

I have replied positively a few times in the past and have them come back to bite me in the behind.

OTOH, I sometimes reply to those that I know WON'T make the cut and offer advice if I think they need/appreciate it. Some of them aren't doing resumes right and I think the advice might help them with another job application.


Just to add one more approach for those who hit this problem in the future, in the end I just wrote a simple, neutral reply:

Dear <person>:

Thank you for your note, I enjoyed meeting with you. <my boss> will be getting in touch with you shortly regarding the position.

Be well,

  • What happens if the boss or hr doesn't contact the folks who weren't hired?
    – RoboKaren
    Commented Sep 17, 2016 at 7:48
  • 4
    Then you/your boss didn't do your job and deserve a spanking.
    – eykanal
    Commented Sep 18, 2016 at 15:29

If the feedback is negative don't reply (Have HR tell him)

If the feed back is good, let him know you guys are interested.

It was a pleasure meeting you as well, Carol will be getting back you shortly regarding next steps.

  • I'm sorry, I didn't explain myself clearly... see the added text at the bottom of the question. I'm not the only one doing the interviewing, so I can't make this kind of statement.
    – eykanal
    Commented Apr 27, 2012 at 13:40
  • And then what do you do when an even better candidate comes through and snags that position? Commented Apr 30, 2012 at 17:30

As someone who sends thank you notes I really like getting a response just to know they in fact got my note. A simple it was nice meeting you and thank you for your interest in our company. The successful candidate will be contacted in the next few days. I believe it's a great response. Its simple polite and doesnt give anything away. Since only 20 percent of individuals send these after interviews it's really nice to get a response.

  • Hey there welcome to The Workplace. Would you mind clarifying how this answer is different and covers different approaches than the ones already provided? Currently I feel it repeats what others have stated...
    – DarkCygnus
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 18:02

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