There is no question that interviews result in information overload for the candidate. Comments and questions are flying in both directions. When a candidate meets with a number of individuals, it is very difficult to remember what was said by whom. After the interview, there is a natural sense of relief and wind down or even a mental crash. If at all possible, take a few minutes immediately after the interview to write down some key thoughts about the experience. Do not attempt to write full sentences or even well-thought-out observations. Just focus on some reminders that can kick your memory in gear after you have had a chance to digest all of the interactions.
Take a lesson from accident or crime scenes. It is well-known that “facts” remembered immediately after an incident can vary widely from what actually happened. Several hours or even one day later, details become much clearer. Although interviews are far less traumatic, the same situation can occur. Wait one day, or at least several hours, and review the quick notes that you jotted down immediately after the interview and expand upon them.
Your goal for the interview review is simple; capture what you learned and what you believe the interviewers learned about you. Even if you have spent a considerable amount of time preparing, you undoubtedly will have picked up dozens of tidbits and nuances about the company and the interviewers themselves. Some will reinforce what your research has uncovered, but many will have surprised you. Repeat the same exercise with the focus on what you think the various interviewers learned about you. As you complete the exercises, you will discover that you wished that you had probed a little deeper; or you had phrased responses differently or should have made some other key points.
This simple exercise will provide two valuable insights. First, it will help you objectively evaluate the company and the position. You may have been overly positive before the interview and then encountered one individual that changed your impressions. Reviewing your pre and post-interview impressions is likely to provide you with a more balanced assessment. Second, most likely, there will be more than one round of interviews. Your review can help you better prepare for the second round when you can probe deeper into any troublesome issues that may have arisen. Also, by reviewing what you think they learned about you, you can better prepare yourself for the second round.
Mental self-assessments are rarely accurate; perhaps too optimistic or too pessimistic. The simple act of writing down impressions and later refining them seems to add a level of objectivity to the process.
To enhance the process, share your impressions with a close, trusted friend. As you describe the interviews and interactions, other previously forgotten observations will be recalled. The person listening to your observations is likely to ask questions and make observations of their own – all helping you in your assessment.
Deciding on a new position or career change is one of the most important activities that a person has to deal with in their business lives. Gathering and assessing as much information as possible can only help in the overall decision process. Make sure you adequately review what you have learned as events unfold. The small, incremental investment in the time that it takes to complete this process will pay significant dividends as you move forward with the hiring process.