You know the feeling: that moment in the interview when you realize the opportunity has passed you by. Or perhaps you think you're interviewing well, but you aren't getting any results. You need to figure out what you are doing wrong and fix it ASAP. But where do you start?
Third-party headhunters and recruitment agencies often provide invaluable feedback when they interview you or send you on interviews. But how do you determine how to improve your interview performance if you're going it alone?
Start with the Foundation
To figure out where you're going astray, ask yourself:
Are you interviewing for the right jobs? Just because you've been chosen for an interview doesn't mean you are a viable candidate.
If you are indeed interviewing for the right kinds of jobs, how prepared have you been?
While these two points may seem obvious, they explain a large portion of poor performance in interviews.
Also, remember that you are being judged on different facets of your performance, such as:
Your interviewing manners and interview attire.
Your level of preparedness.
The quality of your answers and how well they match the job requirements.
The way you deliver your interview answers, as well as your confidence and poise under pressure.
Your overall package.
How to Get Feedback
Other than going directly to the hiring company, there are three ways to get feedback on how well you interview:
Self-Evaluation: Think about the interview questions and your responses. Look at the list above, and be brutally honest with yourself. Take your self-evaluation a step further by videotaping yourself responding to a series of key questions. Review your performance. What do you see?
Peer Evaluation: Seek out the eyes and ears of a trusted friend or significant other who will be honest with you. Role-play the interview by giving your helper a specific job posting and a list of questions. Instruct him to ask the questions randomly and to even make up some of his own. You can also ask your helper to watch your self-made video.
Once you are done, really listen to your helper's comments. Don't be defensive. Take notes. You may hear different sorts of feedback. For example, perhaps you weren't specific enough or didn't sound very interested. Work on these points.
Professional Evaluation: Some career coaches and other career services firms offer interview training and mock interview practice. While it isn't free, if the provider has real-world recruitment or hiring experience, your financial investment can really pay off.
Ask the Hiring Company
Of course, the ultimate feedback is from the interviewers who have rejected your candidacy. Is it possible to obtain feedback from them? Absolutely, says Kirsten Lingard, recruitment manager for HUB International. Other sources are more lukewarm on the issue.
So how do you get feedback from this valuable source? Here's how to increase your odds:
Consider Your Timing: The best time to ask is when the interviewer tells you the company isn't interested. If you are lucky enough to get a phone call, use this opportunity to ask for feedback. If you receive an email, follow up within 24 hours. Lingard says she is more likely to give a candidate feedback if he has interviewed more than twice.
Ask the Right Questions: Don't put the interviewer on the spot by questioning why you weren't offered the job. Accept you weren't successful, and ask a constructive question. "A better route is to ask how you could improve, what your weak areas were or if the interviewer have any specific interviewing advice for you," Lingard says.
Strike the Right Tone: Lingard says she is much more likely to give the candidate constructive feedback if the question is asked with the right intent. There should be no hint of you wanting to argue a point about your candidacy or that you feel angry or injured.
If you are lucky enough to get a critique, it will likely be focused around your interviewing skills or the quality of your answers. But don't shoot yourself in the foot. "I am less likely to give feedback to candidates who are unapologetically late or who take a call on their cellphone during the interview," says Lingard.
Although some companies said they were more hesitant about offering feedback, one common piece of advice emerged: It doesn't hurt to ask. In the end, they agree, it comes down to how much the interviewer wants to help you. This is more likely when you have shown yourself to be prepared and truly interested in the job and you have followed proper interview etiquette.