I write a lot about interview prep, and the things that you should do before an interview. In terms of getting the job, what you do before and during the interview definitely matters more than what you do after.
However, that doesn’t mean you should walk out of interviews and just assume that your work is done. In fact, doing a little post-interview homework can only help you improve. Sure, it won’t change the past, but it will help you learn how to improve for the future. Because odds are this won’t be the last interview you ever go on.
Here are the five things you should ask yourself and jot down after every job interview. (Oh, and feel free to download my free job interview recap worksheet to help with this process.)
1. What Questions Did I Answer Really, Really Well?
First of all, give yourself a little credit for the things you did well! Was there something you said that really seemed to resonate? A story you told that got a positive reaction? A concrete example you gave that made the hiring manager nod in approval? These are the moments you will want to remember, so that you can draw from them and repeat them in future interviews.
2. What Questions Could I Have Answered Better?
Or, you can rephrase it as, “what could I have expressed differently that would’ve made me seem like a stronger candidate?”
Don’t beat yourself up if you got tongue-tied over a question or two. But do acknowledge that it’s an area you should spend some more time preparing for in the future. It’s sometimes as easy as rehearsing your answers more so they come out as concisely and clearly. And other times, it involves sitting down and thinking about what exactly tripped you up. Were you unprepared for the question? Thrown by the fact that it felt random? Realizing that you simply just don’t know the answer? There are ways to solve all of those problems. But, you have to put your finger on the issue first.
3. How Confident Do I Feel That I’ll Move Forward?
This one is important. It also happens to be one I see all the time. A client goes on an interview and feels great about it. Then, a few days go by, and she’s playing everything over in her head and “realizing” she bombed the interview. Sound familiar?
Meanwhile, on the other end of the process, the recruiter may have taken a vacation, or had a crisis come up, or is in the very beginning of the interview process.
My point is that a few days passing shouldn’t change your perception of how well you did (or didn’t do). So give yourself a rating for how you think the meeting went, on a scale of one to 10. Then, look back on this “rating” when you’re feeling anxious and remind yourself that you walked out of there feeling pretty good—a few days going by doesn’t change that.
4. If I Were to Get an Offer, Should I Take It?
This is where you have to get really honest with yourself, before you get tempted by an amazing job offer. Ask yourself if you would really be happy working at the company, with the people who interviewed you, doing the job’s duties every single day. When the interview is fresh in your mind, jot down your gut reaction, and then trust it. This will help ground you when other murky details enter the picture, like a high salary, amazing perks, or your desire to leave your current position ASAP.
5. What Did They Mention About Timing and Next Steps in the Process?
I always recommend asking “Do you have a sense of what the next steps in the process might be and the general timing of them?” at the end of every interview.
This way you’ll know if the company is going to spend the next two weeks interviewing other candidates or if you can expect a call tomorrow to hear more. Having this knowledge up front will help you avoid sitting by the phone, willing it to ring.
Hopefully, this convinced you to take a few minutes after your next interview and do a recap. Even if you weren’t happy with the way the interview went, this process will help you know exactly how to improve in the future. And if you were happy? Well, I’m crossing my fingers that it all works out!
A version of this article was originally published on The Prepary. It has been republished here with permission.