“I was so sure I hadn’t passed the interview that I was a gibbering wreck when my new boss rang to make the offer and congratulate me, so much so that I’m sure it must have crossed his mind to unmake the decision. I never want that to happen again!”
Julia-Anne was still curling up with embarrassment when she recounted her story to me. A bit like exams, some people are able to precisely assess how well they did; others simply can’t do that with any accuracy. So what can you do to avoid being caught in the headlights?
Three actions to take
- Have faith in yourself. You wouldn’t have been invited for interview if you weren’t already in the frame so you have as much chance as anybody. If the others all interviewed badly, it’s yours, even if you weren’t perfect on the day.
- Accept you might get that call. It could be good news, or bad, so prepare two responses to cover either option. If it is bad, leave the door open by saying you’re disappointed but you enjoyed the experience. Make it clear you would be interested to re-apply and then try to get feedback.
- Practice post-interview self-assessment. As soon as you can, note down what went well, what went not so well, what you'd change if you could do it again. Be realistic, but certainly not overly harsh. Score yourself out of 10 for what you think your chances are. Later, see how those feelings match up with any feedback you’re able to get. In time, you’ll get better at scoring yourself.
Five positive indicators
Think about whether you experienced any of these positive indicators during the course of the interview:
- Unexpected extras. “While you’re here, come and meet some of the team.” OMG, it just doesn’t get much better than that, especially if you sense that that was not initially planned for you! Okay, it’s not certain you’ll get the job, but you’re well in the frame for it.
- You get an invite to the next interview (or the job) there and then. Need I say more on this?
- You’re asked about availability. Okay, they might be asking everyone when they’re available to start. Look to see the level of interest in your answer. If the interviewer doesn’t look like they’re writing a note routinely and without emotion, then it is a good sign.
- The interview runs over time. Okay, if you caused that by relentlessly banging on, your odds will have fallen. However, if the interviewer seems keen to ask a few more obviously off-script questions at the end then you can be pretty sure they’ve got a high level of interest in recruiting you.
- The questions get more personal. Everyone may routinely get asked about their ambitions and their interests but if you find the interviewer taking more than just a passing interest in these or your general circumstances, then take it as an excellent indicator. (Unless they prove to be a stalker, of course :) )
Nothing is ever certain
During the course of the interview, try and stay aware of body language and the degree of mutual inter-action. If these are positive and high respectively, then you have as good a chance as anyone, even if you made a couple of minor gaffs during the proceedings.
If you sense utter disinterest in your answers and the interview feels to have been cut short, you’ve clearly not bonded well and your chances of making it through are low.
Just remember that even if you’re sure you did brilliantly, you don’t know who else turned up on the day and how they did, so remain prepared for the result, either way.
If you don’t get hired – get feedback! It’s your ticket to the first class lounge next time around.
Keywords: interview, feedback, body language, inter-action, availability, self-assessment.