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Scenario : An employer announces a walk-in interview. The number of candidates that shows up would typically be above fifty. Most of candidates would be seated in conference rooms or waiting rooms while they await their interview slot.

While we are all waiting for our turns, the employer's HR representatives often provide refreshments (sandwiches, packaged drinks etc). Sometimes, the refreshments are brought in after candidates have arrived, at which point the HR rep bringing in the refreshments announces that they are for the candidates. Everything would be fine until then.

Sometimes, one or two candidates thank the HR rep bringing in the refreshments with a simple, 'Thank you so much' or similar, and the HR rep reciprocates by smiling or by saying, 'Welcome.' However, there are certain scenarios where the HR rep seems to get offended by such Thank You statements.

Recently, I attended such an interview session, and one of the female candidates said, 'Thank you for this gesture' upon being presented with the refreshments. At that point, the HR rep's face turned red. The HR rep was a senior guy, must have been in his later thirties or early forties. He was staring at her for the entire time and it was quite an uncomfortable situation for her.

What should the norm be in these kind of cases? Is 'Thank you for this gesture' a little overwhelming for this situation? How can a candidate acknowledge these kind of gestures?

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    Has the spelling "Tq" instead of "Thank you" a specific meaning or undertone? If not I suggest that you replace it with the normal spelling. – Mark Rotteveel May 19 '18 at 12:56
  • @MarkRotteveel edited – user75512 May 19 '18 at 13:58
  • So a woman (not you) was being interviewed, and the HR guy turned red? What was your role? – class stacker May 20 '18 at 9:54
  • @classstacker we were all seated in the same room waiting for our turn to get interviewed. – user75512 May 20 '18 at 12:13
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    You may want to edit and add a few sentences at the beginning to explain the context - it sounds like you are participating (as a candidate) in mass, walk-in interviews where a large number of candidates are waiting in a common room for their turn to be interviewed, and the employer is providing refreshments in that common room. Is that correct? It took me a while to deduce that, and it sounds like others are confused, also. – dwizum May 21 '18 at 12:48
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I don't think "Thank you for this gesture" is overwhelming. I think a more likely explanation is that the HR rep, an older gentleman and probably in a position of authority, was feeling uncomfortable at being assigned a task of a servant, of literally serving refreshments to a group of people. And in this moment of discomfort, a candidate -- a supplicant to him who wants a job from him -- spoke to him graciously, as one would to a host. But this intensified his feelings of being a servant. Her being female and younger than him probably made it even worse. He blushed. He felt very bad. He probably felt anger at her for "treating him like a servant" even though she didn't, and it wasn't her who set him that task.

My guess is he will ensure she isn't hired. My advice to you is to remember that whatever role someone is performing, including holding a door, handing out refreshments, giving directions in the hallways, they are still who they are and should be treated with care. You wouldn't say "thanks buddy" or "good work, boy" to a senior member of staff doing these tasks, because they are still senior people. A just plain thankyou is safest. It doesn't carry any extra baggage or implications about who is above whom in the transaction.

  • I never assumed the senior guy would be offended in such way. Thank you for this advice. At the same time, when there are more than 50-60 candidates, how good would it be for only one candidate to even say 'Thank you'? Will it come across as the candidate trying to be (over)smart rather than being courteous? Is it really important to even acknowledge the provision of refreshments? – user75512 May 21 '18 at 17:01
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    I couldn't see anything wrong with a quiet thankyou, one-to-one. Just avoid adding anything to it or being overly loud as though you are proclaiming to others as well as to the person doing the task. – Kate Gregory May 21 '18 at 17:15
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Just a simple

Thank you very much

Is all that’s needed. There’s no need for anything more. Being overly polite or enthusiastic comes across as strange for a basic courtesy like this (it can appear to be patronising or sarcastic if taken the wrong way)

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Forget about refreshments and focus on the main topic: Why are you applying to that company? It's more likely that they will like you if you give thanks for their advice or their time to answer your questions related to the main topic, instead of being polite about the refreshments. It's okay to be nervous and polite, but don't try to talk about everything that comes to your mind to stand out. Be accurate, be precise, and most important, be yourself.

  • The OP did not even state in which role he attended the interview. Actually, if we can assume that normally, only a single candidate is interviewed, it sounds like he was actually not applying. – class stacker May 20 '18 at 9:52
  • @classstacker I've edited my post to mention the number of candidates. This usually happens during walk ins which attracts a large number of candidates. – user75512 May 20 '18 at 12:20

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