Had A Great Job Interview? A Critical Job Search Mistake To Avoid And 10 Suggestions For What To Do Instead
Competition for jobs has dramatically increased especially now. While at the same time, employers are taking longer to decide on the right candidate for the job. Columbia Career Coaches Network's Caroline Ceniza-Levine '93BC shares her top ten tips on how to navigate after an interview.
Picture this all-too-common scenario which leads to a critical job search mistake:
You had a great job interview which ends with the recruiter indicating you will be called back shortly. So you go about your business waiting for that callback to be scheduled. In the best case, the recruiter does call back, further interviews are scheduled, and you even get the job. In the worst case, you never get a call back, and you’re back to square one.
In both cases, however, you have made a critical job search mistake – you waited patiently after your job interview (a nice way of saying you did nothing), instead of using this valuable time to move your job search forward.
The gap between interviews is the best time to move your job search forward. You have the confidence of at least one interview under your belt. You have information gleaned from that interview to further refine your job search. You have the halo effect of being in an active hiring process – employers are attracted to candidates that other employers want (social proof meets the job search!). Here are 10 actions you can take after a job interview so your time is spent moving forward and not just waiting:
1 – Write a compelling thank you note
A thank you note is another opportunity to get in front of the decision-makers. The best thank you notes are not just polite follow-ups but actually forward the process — you can add to points that seemed to resonate or bring up additional information that you forgot to mention.
2 – Take note of your interview performance
Ideally right after your interview, jot down everything you remember –who you met, what questions were asked, where you felt you did well, where you felt stumped. Taking note of past performance enables you to make adjustments for the future. It’s also important because callback interviews will likely build on what you were asked before.
3 – Select additional examples for subsequent interviews
If you do get a callback, you may be asked to repeat information covered in the earlier rounds, but you also may be asked for new information. You want to prepare different examples than you shared before so you demonstrate your range of experience and show you’re not a one-trick pony.
4 – Prepare to dig deeper in subsequent interviews
In addition to more examples, you want to prepare more details and specifics about your work. Earlier interviews might only touch on what you accomplished. Later interviews will dig deeper on how you accomplished those results, what resources you had, and market conditions you faced, or what alternatives you tried. Callback interviews are generally more intense than earlier rounds. You’re also competing with the best candidates.
5 – Conduct further research based on what you learned
During that earlier job interview, you should have learned something – more information on what the company is working on, more clarity on what the priorities of the role are, and more nuances about the culture and the people you’ll be working with. Use that research to guide additional research you can do on the issues and concerns of that company so you’re even more knowledgeable in the callbacks than when you started.
6 – Remind your network you’re in play
The company interviewing you shouldn’t be the only company in your job search pipeline. Now is not the time to let other relationships wane. Continue your networking, and be sure to mention that you’re in an interview process. Remember the allure of social proof – more people find you attractive when others find you attractive. You’re apt to get more help in your job search when you’re already busy.
7 – Tell other prospects you’re in play
Other companies you are considering are the most important part of your network that needs to know you’re in play. If you had an earlier round with another place that has gone quiet, use this other interview to rekindle interest. Even if you’re no longer interested in the other place, it’s always better to be in more than one hiring process simultaneously. You have choices, and the other companies are put on notice that you have choices.
8 – Identify competitors – for research and additional leads
Don’t only focus on companies already in play. Look at new companies to research, approach and get into your job search pipeline. At the very least, research into competitors of the company you’re already interviewing with gives you market savvy that will help in your interview process. Best case scenario is that you uncover additional possibilities that lead to additional interviews and opportunities.
9 – Replenish your energy
As much as I want you to work that gap between interviews, you also need to mind your energy reserves. The job search process is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing, so schedule in some relaxation time to ensure you have the stamina for subsequent interviews.
10 – Replenish your enthusiasm
In addition to energy, you also need enthusiasm. Callback interviews can get repetitive. You feel like you’re answering the same types of questions over and over again. If you’re not careful, you’ll sound rehearsed or robotic or, even worse, annoyed at the question. It might be your fourth interview with the company, but it’s that interviewer’s first interview with you. During the gap between interviews, schedule some fun time so you’re happy and positive for the next rounds.
Don’t make the critical mistake even smart job seekers make by using your wait time between interviews only for waiting. Get proactive, and try one of these 10 actions to keep your job search moving, your pipeline full, and your attitude positive.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a longtime recruiter turned career coach and media expert on the job market. She writes for Forbes and teaches professional development courses at Barnard and SIPA. She has coached professionals at Amazon, Conde Nast, Goldman Sachs, Google, Tesla, and other leading firms. A classically-trained pianist at Juilliard, Ceniza-Levine stays active in the arts, performing stand-up comedy. Learn more about Ceniza-Levine and the Columbia Career Coaches Network.