Job Interview Follow-Up Etiquette

job interview first or last name etiquetteA Knock em Dead Facebook follower writes, "When writing a 'Thank you for the interview' letter, should I address the person by first name since I usually refer to them by their first name in the interview?"

An interesting question of professional etiquette, where as much depends on the age and status differential between interviewer and candidate, as it depends on the interviewer being addressed as s/he prefers. Let's review the essential rule of interview address and then apply it to a thank you or follow-up letter.

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A job interview is not a situation where your personal preferences hold any sway, so always address an interviewer as Mr/Ms until requested to do otherwise. Choosing to address an interviewer by first name, without encouragement to do so, may give you a temporary feeling of equality but it won't help your candidacy.

Some sensible rules of thumb for interviews:

  • Only use a first name if you are encouraged to do so.
  • If you are not sure, ask.
  • If there is a generation or more between you always stick with Mr/Ms until specifically asked to do otherwise.
  • Other employees using a personal form of address is not your signal to do likewise.
  • If you are encouraged to use first names with a senior person in the privacy of an interview, that is all well and good, but you should revert to the more respectful Mr/Ms at any time others are part of your conversation.

Apart from the respect the more formal address demonstrates to a potential manager, it also shows that you will know how to interact appropriately with the company's clients.

Follow-up & thank you letters

Those sensible rules for interviews don't necessarily apply to follow-up & thank you letters. While the closer you are in age, experience and status the more likely you are to be encouraged to use first names at an interview, it doesn't necessarily mean that this should be continued in a follow-up letter; in fact you can make points by reverting to the more formal and respectful address.

Using Mr/Ms and a last name in a thank you or follow-up letter is nothing more than a demonstration of your awareness of professional protocols. It will always be accepted as a sign of personal respect and your understanding of professional niceties; both messages a smart candidate will want to deliver.

You can never go wrong by using a person's last name in the salutation of an interview thank-you letter, unless you are very close in age and status and the meeting went exceptionally well.

Next: 3 Ways To Make Your Job Search Easier

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Filed under: Interviews

Martin Yate


Martin Yate, CPC, author of Knock 'em Dead: Secrets & Strategies for Success in an Uncertain World, is a New York Times and international bestseller of job search and career management books. He is the author of 11 job search and career management books published throughout the English speaking world and in over 50 foreign language editions. Over thirty years in career management, including stints as an international technology headhunter, head of HR for a publicly traded company and Director of Training and Development for an international employment services organization.

Within the profession he has a global reputation as the thought leader on job search and career management issues. He has lectured on four continents and has maintained a coaching practice since 1991.

The current recession is the 5th he has helped people navigate over the last 30 years.

For more information please visit and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.

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