You just finished a job interview. Moments ago, you hung up the phone or arrived back at your hotel room. What should you do next?
Interviews are draining and stressful, so it might be quite tempting to follow an interview immediately with a run, nap or bowl of ice cream. (Tag yourself: I’m definitely a bowl-of-ice-cream person.) But if you do any of that right away, you are missing a vital opportunity to advance your job search and your career.
Taking just 15 to 30 minutes to follow the steps I outline below will allow you to use your interview experience to set yourself up for success in the next stages of the hiring process and beyond. This advice applies to any kind of job search -- whether in or outside academe.
Have you ever had the experience that, not long after an interview ends, all the details fade -- except for the bits you wish you could forget? If so, you’re far from alone. I advise hundreds of graduate students every year who are interviewing for jobs, and when debriefing with them after an interview, I can almost always predict what they’ll say: they won’t remember what questions were asked or answers they thought they aced, but they can definitely remember when they said the wrong word or couldn’t think of a strong response.
And while that’s totally natural, it’s also not terribly helpful as you look ahead to the next interview or a potential offer. One of the most important roles an interview plays is to give the candidate an opportunity to learn more about the position, the employer and their maybe-soon colleagues. Understanding more about them lets you predict future questions, understand their priorities and assess whether you actually want to work with them. But if all you end up remembering is your own mistakes, then you won’t have the data that lets you do that.
The solution? The instant you hang up the phone or get back to the hotel, sit down with your note-taking technology of choice (a Word document, a notebook and pen, a whiteboard, a voice memo app) and start writing. Spend at least 15 minutes -- and maybe as many as 30 -- recording everything you can remember about the interview.
You’ll want to take a lot of notes. Check out the original post on Inside High Ed for questions you should consider in post-interview note taking.
Derek Attig is the Director of Career Development for the Graduate College. After earning a PhD in History here at Illinois, Derek worked in nonprofit communications and instructional development before joining the Career Development team. A devotee of libraries and all things peculiar, Derek is currently writing a book about bookmobiles.