You work so hard preparing for your job interview. Then finally the big day arrives. And you do your best to make a good impression. Before you know it, your job interview is over! And there you are, stuck in the old waiting game,wondering about your chances for a second interview. With no idea what impressions you leave after an interview!
Did I do as well as I could have? What kind of an impression did I make? Could I have answered my interview questions better? What are they really thinking about me now that the interview is over?
Well, I can’t speak for everyone. But for me a job interview is kind of like tasting fine wine…First, there’s the initial impression. The way it tastes while drinking. And the feeling you’re left with afterward. And it’s that very feeling (memory impression) that can make all the difference.
Maybe too bold? Or too acidy? Not yet mature? Too mild-mannered? Possibly too complex? Not complex enough? Worse yet, not memorable at all? Or is it (hopefully) exactly the right blend of characteristics?
More ways a job interview is like tasting wine
Following up on my analogy, I found this excerpt about wine-tasting on Wikipedia. Hah! With some obvious differences, it kind of fits after all. Especially the second part, which almost reads like job interview tips!
The four recognized stages of wine tasting:
- “in glass” the aroma of the wine
- “in mouth” sensations
- “finish” (aftertaste)
And all combine to establish these properties of a wine:
- complexity and character
- potential (suitability for aging or drinking)
- possible faults
Balance of complexity. Character. Potential (for the company). And possible faults. All things an interviewer looks for. And hopefully impressions you leave after an interview. I couldn’t have written that better myself!
So what are impressions you leave after an interview?
In thinking about people I’ve interviewed and helped hire over the years, certain things about them stayed with us after the job interview. And, in the end, these “aftertastes” strongly influenced whom we hired.
Based on that, I put together a list of things you might want to remember that will help determine the kind of impressions you leave after an interview:
Do you have good energy? That means good physical energy as well as conveying a positive way of looking at things / approaching problems.
Were you present in the interview or always thinking ahead? Be present. Trust yourself.
What was your body language like? Did you sit up straight, meet my eyes when you spoke, and show confidence in who you are and what you have to offer (with a minimal squirminess factor)?
Did you answer my job interview questions? It’s ok to steer your interview answers toward things you really want to talk about to show the kind of employee you’ll be, but don’t forget to answer what was asked and not stray too far afield!
Do I have a sense of who you are? And how you’d be to work with. All else being equal, most employers basically want to hire someone pleasant to work with. And someone who will pitch in without being asked. Also, a person who looks for solutions, rather than merely pointing out problems O causing new ones.
Do I feel I can trust you? People think they need to lie in job interviews to get hired. Sometimes it works. Although most of the time not for long. But if you just do your best to be yourself and answer truthfully, you have a better chance of leaving that all-important after interview impression of being trustworthy.
More things that leave good impressions…
Are you flexible? I’ve interviewed folks who make it clear they have one way of doing things and don’t like change. The one thing you can count on in the workplace is that there will be change and new challenges. So be open to learning and growth. Mostly just be open.
Are you a resourceful self-starter? Are you able to find solutions and suggest new projects or ways to improve things. Or are you someone who just waits for someone to always tell you what to do?
Are you likable? Already alluded to above, but so important to the whole job interview process it deserves its own section. You have to be someone people actually want to work with. Hint: Know-it-alls and people who are full of themselves (to try to prove how good they are) are generally not likable.
Did you leave me with some interesting stories that showed real-life work examples of things you accomplished? Or problems you solved. A good strong story, that makes the point and points to how you might be an asset for THEIR needs, can have a positive long-lasting aftertaste.
It’s really about the whole picture
Now I can’t tell you how to make all that happen in your interview. That’s up to you. And I can’t promise you that if you follow each and every one of my job interview tips, you’ll get the job. No matter what, there still has to be a good match.
Understandably, candidates worry about their interview answers. Especially how to give absolutely positively perfect answers to every job interview question (no such thing, by the way).
But I want you to also remember this: after an interview, what’s left behind is a whole-picture impression greater than the sum of your individual job interview questions and answers. And the more you can relax and be yourself in the interview, the more likely the sum will be greater than the parts.
A few more thoughts on making a good interview impression
So with all that in mind, I want to leave you with a few final suggestions that summarize what you can do to help yourself give the best interview possible:
- Be yourself and not some idea of who you’re supposed to be.
- Keep your job interview answers focused and positive.
- Show where you’ve made things happen in the past that benefited your employers.
- Sit up and make good eye contact with all the interviewers.
- Listen carefully and answer the actual job interview questions you’ve been asked.
- Relax as best you can. (Try thinking of it as simply a good business meeting with colleagues you like and respect.)
- Leave with a smile, a handshake, and the same good energy you showed all along. It’s the last impression they have of you, so make it a positive one!
More posts to help
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.
[Post updated in 2020]