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The Interview’s Over:  Now What?

by Laura Gassner Otting

 

    With an ounce of relief and a pound of pride, you step from your interviewer’s office exhilarated that you have made it through yet another step of the job search process.  But, any good candidate knows that the job interview doesn’t end with, “thanks, we’ll be in touch.”  So, what do you do now? 

 

I Woulda’, Coulda’, Shoulda’….

 

    As you exit the interview, and undoubtedly throughout the ride home, you will begin to find yourself hounded by pesky thoughts of things you forgot to say.  Resist the urge to pick up the phone and call your interviewer; until a decision has been made, everything you say can and will be held against you.  You may come up with other things you wish to say, and calling each time will only make you look scatterbrained.

 

    Instead, carefully debrief the interview.  Think through the questions that were asked and the questions that were not asked.  Review the list of points you expected to make, and weigh them against the things that actually came out of your mouth.  Judge your performance and think through what you could improve upon next time.  Every performance can be improved and until you accept a position, you should always assume there will be another.

 

Emily Post Would Be Proud

 

    Regrettably, the art of the personalized thank you note is a lost one.  In the age of electronic communication, it’s rare for me to get thank you notes from candidates I have interviewed; and when I do, it seems that most are quick notes jotted hastily and with typos on e-mail, sent off without much effort or thought at all.  I’d like to think that your interest in the job at hand, not to mention your respect for my time, warrants more than that.

 

    A personalized thank you note is not just polite, it’s an opportunity for you to give one last sales pitch, and a chance to fill me in on those things you realized you forget to tell me in the interview.  Why so many candidates forswear this golden opportunity, I’ll never know.  A good thank you note doesn’t gush; it expresses both appreciation for my time as well as a forgotten (or repeated) clarification of the candidate’s skills and experiences as they relate to the hiring manager’s organization’s needs and challenges.  A thank you note gets my attention; a good one gets placed in the resume book and is ultimately read, and duly noted, by the search committee.

 

Door Number 1 or Door Number 2

 

    Any conversation with a headhunter or hiring manager after an interview may contain an offer.  Many will include reconnaissance questions necessary so that when an offer does come it will be one that is accepted.  Like a proposal of marriage, a job offer is a question not asked without full knowledge of the response.

 

    Keep a list handy of any remaining questions you have about the position or the organization; you would need to satisfy any concerns before accepting a job anyway, so asking them during follow up calls gives you more control over the conversation.  Don’t feel pressured into answering questions as they are asked from the headhunter; in fact, putting them off with an excuse of a meeting currently in progress in your office will give you time to catch your breath and call back when you are cool, calm and collected.

 

Every Investigation Needs an Autopsy

 

    So, you didn’t get the job.  You have two choices:  throw yourself a grand pity party or get working on improving your interview performance.  The best way to improve your performance – after you’ve done your own thinking – is to seek our feedback from the headhunter or hiring manager who interviewed you or who worked with the search committee.  This person has not only seen your performance, but witnessed the other candidates’ as well.  S/He is the ideal person to help you reflect.

 

    Keep in mind that we live in a litigious society and many headhunters and hiring managers are counseled to be as brief and evasive as possible.  They may just find a career experience that the successful job candidate had that you didn’t, i.e., ‘we wanted someone who has managed 12 people instead of just 10.’  If you sense a blow off coming, get the hint and don’t push.  You don’t want to burn any bridges.

 

After you leave the interview, it is essential to debrief about your performance.  Answers to these questions will inform your thank you note as well as future interview performance:

  1. Did you become comfortable in the interview?

  2. Which questions could you have better answered?

  3. Where did you succeed?  Where did you fail?

  4. Which topics led to awkward silences?

  5. Did you emphasize your understanding of the connection between the organization’s needs and your skills and experiences?

  6. Did you create a conversational atmosphere?

  7. Did the interviewer ask questions for which you were not prepared?

  8. Did you understand and address the interviewer’s concerns about your candidacy?

  9. Did you forget to ask any questions about the job or organization that would inform you decision should the job be offered to you?

  10. What would you differently next time?

Whether you are starting from scratch and need strategic advice, or simply need to polish your resume and cover letters, the search professionals at execSearches.com can help. We provide highly individualized service, in a very cost effective manner.