“Doubting interview answers. What now?”
Hi Ronnie Ann. While searching for advice on post interviewing tips, I came across your website. I read through all the posts from recent job interviewees. And I find that I’m sharing similar experiences with most of them. Especially doubting my answers. I’m so glad I found your site as it now acts as a “support group” for me.
I’m currently going through what most interviewees are going through … the excruciating, long period of waiting on a “call back” or “hear back” from a company I interviewed with. About 3 weeks ago, I interviewed with a mid size regional bank (approx. 86 branches throughout the state) for a position in their marketing department.
It started with a phone interview
First I went through the phone interviewing process, the first round of interviews set up by HR. And made it to the second round to see the Senior VP of corporate marketing. Then I prepared long and hard for this second interview. Because this position (event marketing) is what I have been dreaming to work for. And the company’s philosophy and values make it an outstanding environment for any employees seeking job opportunities in this field.
Well, my dilemma is … I’m doubting my answers to the Senior VP’s interview questions. After the interview, I realized that I could have answered the questions more appropriately this way. And that way. And why I shouldn’t have responded to certain questions this way, etc. etc.
“But did I show my full potential?”
Unfortunately, I felt like I haven’t showed my full potential of proving that I am the right candidate for this job. The interview lasted approx. 40 mins. The first 30 mins or so was structured by asking questions like what I had done at my previous company, what I was involved in, etc. Also what I see myself doing in 3-5 years…
Then I asked him what the day to day duties are for the job. And he explained in full detail about the job duties. He showed me what the previous person had done (i.e. projects she had worked on before she left the company.. And he even went into great detail on the structure of his group. (what everyone’s position is, and their duties…)
He explained that most people have worked there for at least 5 years. And the person who left this position had to leave because her husband is relocating to another city. Then he moved on to ask more personal questions like my hobbies … what I like to do on my spare time … what my interest is in … and how I keep myself busy in the meantime.
I’ve been out of a job since this Jan. That was the last 10 mins of the interview. But I couldn’t “feel” if he was impressed with me or not, because I couldn’t see any signs of whether he likes me or not.
And as interview came to a close
The interview came to an end when he said he’d make a decision within 2 weeks. He said by then he would narrow down to 1 to 2 final candidates to see the President of the company and the marketing group. So the group can choose the candidate for the position.
Then he handed me his business card. And he let me know if there are any questions in the meantime, to contact him. I asked whether it was ok to follow up with him a week after the interview. And he said that’s ok. Or someone would contact me.
Then we proceeded to walk me out of his office. We passed by other offices. And he introduced me to all the people in his group. I shook hands with all of them, and greeted them warmly. Then he accompanied me to the door. And we said good bye.
One week later: doubting answers & waiting
So that was last Tuesday. And today is Wednesday. One week and a day had passed. I am pulling my hair out… I hate waiting.
So should I write an email to him asking where it is in his decision-making process? Or should I write to the original recruiter (the HR whom I was first contacted, and who conducted the phone interview, and the first in-person interview with me)? Or … should I wait till next Tuesday before doing any follow ups (next Tues is exactly two weeks that the VP indicated on the time frame)..?
I have to mention that I did email him right after the interview (4 hrs after the interview) thanking him for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with me. And emphasized on some strengths and thoughts I didn’t or forgot to mention during the interview.
I appreciate any candid advice from you. And I really I apologize for the lengthy email… If you have any questions, please feel free to ask by emailing back. I might have some thoughts I left out from above.
Thank you so much!!! As you can probably tell, I’m anxious to hear back from you soon.
Doubting interview answers is natural
First of all, from what you tell me, sounds like you had a strong interview. And made all the right moves. Congratulations on that. Just know that doubting interview answers is very common. And very human. So much rides on what happens during the interview. But doubting doesn’t mean it didn’t go well!
Also, I like that you gave him a next step — in this case asking him if it was ok to follow up with him. And he said yes (or someone would contact you.) All good signs.
But one week is not very long in interview days. It’s a lot like dog years. 🙂 A lot goes on behind the scenes after an interview. And even when we expect to have a decision by a certain date, things happen. And so it’s not all that unusual to take longer than expected.
So it’s fine to go ahead and email him — especially since he told you it was ok. But maybe if you can stand it, give it a few more days to show you respect their process. You already sent a thank you. Believe me … we don’t forget good candidates!
And when you do write the note (if you haven’t already heard from them), you can say something like:
“As promised, I’m following up on our interview. I just want to let you know that I’m still very interested and hope to be one of the finalists for this exciting position.”
Use your own words of course. But you get the idea. Keep it short and polite. And maybe add one thing you learned from the interview that you especially appreciate. At the very least, he knows you’re someone who goes after what they want — pleasantly and respectfully.
FYI … Right out of grad school, I interviewed with an SVP of a major bank. And he called me “pleasantly aggressive”. I’ve never forgotten that. I got the offer — and accepted it.
How interviewers view answers you doubt
As for worrying about how you answered the questions … Were my answers right? Could I have been better? Should I go back and beg him to let me answer again??? 🙂
Please let all that go now. He wouldn’t have talked to you as long as he did — and introduced you around — if he weren’t at least pretty interested. I’m sure you did fine.
The secret from the interviewer’s side is it’s not exactly what you’re saying. We just want to get to know you. And see how you think and connect with people. Especially for a marketing events person in banking, your personality, follow through, and attention to detail are most likely more important than your exact answers.
As for you saying you’re “doubting my answers” … while you remember every word that passed between you, interviewers are extremely busy. And yours may have forgotten many of those exact those words you’re worrying about. It’s often more of a feeling — kind of like dating.
After you send the follow-up, try your best to relax. Believe in yourself. Know that you did your best. And wait until they get back to you. (Unless it’s been two more weeks. Then you might want to contact the HR person to get a status update.)
These things really do take more time than we wish. What seems so long to you is just a blink of an eye to them. And I know that from having been a hiring manager for many years.
Good luck, CK! I truly hope you’re one of the finalists. Please let us know how it goes.
~ Ronnie Ann
[Post updated in 2021]
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 and her own adventures as a serial job seeker.
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