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July 7, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Analyze your interview to help you learn from your mistakes

You’ve made it through your job interview; congratulations! Now what?

After you’ve used the advice in my previous post (written down your observations so you could evaluate the company and hiring manager), the next step is to analyze the interview.

The easiest way to do this is to go directly to a nearby coffee shop after your interview, order that soy iced vanilla latte, and then jot down any questions you stumbled on or felt you could have answered better; any issues that came up during the discussion; and any additional documents or pieces of information you were asked to provide that you didn’t have with you.

Writing all of this down as soon as possible after your interview is important. The longer you wait, the more you will potentially forget.

Next, use what you learned from the interview to prepare for your next one. Ask yourself three questions:

1. What went well during the interview? For example, were you able to easily answer most questions because you prepared by brainstorming questions and thinking about how you would answer them? Were you dressed appropriately because you researched the company culture?

2. What didn’t go as well as you’d hoped? Think about any questions for which you could have had a better answer, those that you didn’t feel confident answering or times when your mind just went blank. Were there any other issues? Did you forget to bring a list of questions to ask the hiring manager? Leave your portfolio of work examples on your kitchen counter?

3. If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? Pretend that you can rewind your day to before the job interview. If you had the chance for a redo, what would you do differently before the interview (to prepare) or during the interview?

Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes, so use your observations to improve your interview skills. For example, one client of mine realized that her morning coffee habit was detrimental to her interviews because the caffeine made her nervous and fidgety. Another client realized she tended to ramble and needed to provide more concise answers when she was asked questions such as, “Tell me about a time when you …”

Life is about learning and experiencing, so don’t beat yourself up if you had a bad job interview. The best gift you can give yourself is to slow down enough to analyze your interview and then use that information to improve for the future.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career change, hiring, interviewing, job search

Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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