NOTE: This will be the last the interview series for now. Not to say I won’t have more comments on this stage of the process–I hopefully have at least a few more interviews left–but this should conclude my first round of impressions.

When I was growing up there were three major things that I would stop at nothing to avoid: going to bed on time, brushing my teeth, and writing thank you letters.

The first two habits I have mostly grown into over the years. Thank you notes, however, are still far from instinctual for me. I feel as though every time good manners dictates such a document I am taken by surprise. “Oh yeah…I suppose it would be nice if I did that.”

There is something I find inherently insincere about thank you letters. There is none of the spontaneity or emotion of actually saying thank you in person, and by virtue of being letters, there is generally a lot more that needs to said on paper than you would customarily say aloud. I always find myself coming to a jarring halt after the first line: “Dear so and so, Thank you so much for X. I really appreciate Y….” Then what? Mission accomplished, gratitude expressed. What do you write to fill in the rest of the page?

This is even worse for interviews. A thank you letter for an interview seems to me to be a blatant suggestion for a returned favor. “Thank you so much for talking to me,” says the letter, but we all know what it really means is, “Let me flatter you a bit so you’ll like me enough to give me what I want.” No matter how sincerely I mean what I say, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

Bizarrely enough this distaste for thank you letters has lead me to become rather good at writing them. I stutter and struggle over every word, but I pride myself on a final result that is both sincere and personalized. I’ve had more than one prospective employer include in their rejection a comment on how nice they found my thank you letter. “Keep writing such eloquent notes,” one person wrote. I suppose is softened the blow of not getting the job I wanted.

At the moment I am trapped in thank you card hell. Each interview day usually merits two or three separate, handwritten letters. I draft them on the computer and then write them out at our kitchen table as neatly as possible. It’s a delicate process; I refuse to even listen to music for fear it will distract me into writing the wrong letter or miss a punctuation mark. I scared the life out of the dog when he tried to jump up on my leg mid pen-stroke.

Truly I imagine the thank you note is not going to tip the scale one way or another in the minds of the admissions board. But this is my last chance to make an impression; the last argument I can make of my own behalf before my fate is out of my control. After this, all that is left is the wait.

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