What No One’s Saying About the Thank-you Controversy: It’s About Transparency

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Apr 23, 2019
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Recently an article written by Jessica Liebman,of Business Insider went viral and attracted a lot of attention. Liebman said there was one thing that proved to be a valid predictor for hiring. That was whether the candidate has sent her a thank-you note or not. The article created such a flurry was because this was obviously an external factor to the hiring process itself and had nothing to do with direct skills for the role.

One can of course argue that sending a thank-you note correlates with many important candidate characteristics such as motivation, communication, and interest in the role. What could be possible wrong with that?

Actually …

I became aware of this article after following a lively discussion in one of the Silicon Valley immigrants Facebook groups. There was a heated debate on how culturally inclusive relying on a thank-you is. Some of the people noted that assimilating into a new culture involves learning new codes of behaviors and reading subtle cues as to what is acceptable or not. This assimilation includes, perhaps, thank-you notes. 

As I see it, there are two sides to this equation. One is an organization’s wishes to conduct an effective and productive hiring process. The other is a candidate who would like a equitable and fair chance.

One possible fix: have employers use whatever works for them, but at least be transparent about it. 

In order to be truly inclusive, set clear expectations and be transparent about the areas that are being assessed and their weight in the hiring process. You could list different factors that play into the hiring decision, and include candidate follow-up in the list. 

This could help improve the candidate experience, as clear expectations is one of the most important facets to a great candidate experience. It also could help ensure any selection methods used are inclusive and fair. No one should have to guess.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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