By Aja Frost for BioSpace.com
Sarah had just wrapped up a grueling hour-long interview for a position as a quality assurance manager. She was understandably exhausted, so when she got home, she put on some comfortable clothes, ate some dinner and then curled up in front of the TV.
Sound familiar? Most of us are so drained by the intensity of the interview process that the last thing we want to do when we get out is think about it more. However, the half hour after an interview is crucial—don’t waste it.
As soon as you leave, take out some paper and write down absolutely everything you can remember from the interview.
Your list should include:
• the questions the interviewers asked you and your responses
• your opinion of their personalities
• how long the interview was, what you thought of the office
• the small talk you made
• the high points of the conversation
• the low points (if there were any)
• what they told you about the company
• anything else you can think of
The idea is to record your impressions of the experience while they’re still accurate.
2. Write a great thank you card.
Ideally, you’d send a thank you email that same night. Most thank you letters are bland and generic, so if you can personalize yours, you’ll become a more attractive candidate for the job. Look at your notes and search for a cool detail or interesting fact that came up in your conversation—like “team loves karaoke; interviewer joked that most of them were tone-deaf.”
Now, along with the usual sentiments re-expressing your interest in the job and thanking them for taking the time to talk with you, you can add, “I loved learning about how close your team is—those who sing (badly) together stay together!”
Adding in something specific from your conversation shows you were paying attention and makes you more memorable.
3. Analyze the questions they asked you.
If every company culture fit the description on its “About page,” well, we’d all work at perfect companies. To get a feel for the real culture, rather than the stated one, look at the questions you were asked during the interview. What did they focus on?
If they asked about your ability to adapt to change and be flexible, you can infer the company has a pretty fast-paced, hard-working atmosphere.
If they spent a lot of time asking personality and fit questions, you can infer the company really cares about having employees fit a certain “type”—which is good if you fit that mold, but if you found yourself giving the interviewers what you thought they’d want to hear, rather than the truth, you want might to rethink that strategy.
If they devoted a lot of time to your technical skills but didn’t go into your ability to communicate well or work with a team, you can conclude the employees are fairly independent.
4. Learn from your mistakes.
No job interview is perfect. By reviewing your notes, you can figure out where and why you went wrong. Did you stumble when the interviewer asked you something unexpected, like how you would deal with a dishonest coworker? Now you know you need to practice dealing with off-the-wall questions. Did you forget to emphasize reasons you’d be a great hire that aren’t necessarily on your resume—like you never stop working on a problem until you find a solution, or you’re a fantastic collaborator? Now you know you need to remind yourself of your “interview goals” before you head in. Did you ramble too long about why your old job wasn’t ideal? Now you know you need to cut yourself off after 15 seconds.