4 Steps to Improving Your Interview Skills – The Post Interview Checklist

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career adviceMany people exit an interview with a sense of foreboding. They suddenly think of the perfect answer to that tricky question they stumbled over. Was it their imagination or did the interviewer rush through the interview? It’s time to turn around that post interview negativity into a productive checklist that will help you to improve with each subsequent interview culminating in the perfect job offer. Spend time debriefing after each interview by adding these four questions to your post interview checklist:

1 – Was I prepared for the interview?
One of the most important pre-interview steps is to review the company profile and key players prior to the interview. The purpose is to show that you are knowledgeable about the company and the services they provide. After the interview, take time to reflect on just how knowledgeable you appeared. If you found that you were still unable to respond to key questions about the company or the position, you need to spend more time reviewing the company.

2 – Did I do a quick scan of the office to get a preliminary idea of the environment?
Hiring managers will sometimes ask if you noticed a particular piece of art or other item of interest when you walked in the door. It is usually just to break the ice. Not being aware of a huge painting, sculpture or other “attention grabber” speaks volumes about your attention to detail. Scanning the office also gives you information about the environment that you will be able to tailor answers too.

3 – How can I the answer questions better?
A recent interview panel placed a list of the questions that they would be asking on the table in front of each interviewee. The instructions were that the interviewee could read the question in case they needed a refresher on a multiple part question. The interviewee decided not to pay attention to the interviewer asking the questions, but rather read each question while the interviewer was talking. The interviewee did not get hired. What is the moralof the story?  Pay attention to the interviewer regardless of what paper is placed in front of you.

The interviewer will allow time for silence in order for the interviewee to compose an answer. Keep in mind that this will not last forever. Taking an unreasonable amount of time to answer makes you appear either slow or unresponsive. Prepare answers to the most frequently asked questions before the interview.

Once you leave the interview, write down as many questions as you can remember. Review your responses to determine if there was a better answer than the one you provided. Did you talk about your skills and provide relevant numbers where possible, or did you talk mainly about your enthusiasm and being a go-getter. Skills trump self proclaimed adjectives any day. The interviewer should be able to see your enthusiasm during the interview. If you have to keep telling them that you‘re enthusiastic, you are not selling yourself.

4 – Was I an active participant in the interview?

Did you fidget too much? Did your mind wander to the answer before the interviewer finished asking the question? As a result, did you answer the right question? Did you provide examples of how you handled situations or were your answers of the yes or no variety?  Participate actively in each interview.  If the interviewer feels like they were talking to an object instead of a person, you will not get the job.

We all hope that each interview will be our last and that each interview will culminate in a job offer. Until that happens it is important to continue to improve on interview skills in order to optimize the chance for interview success.