What do you do if you had a job interview that goes pretty well, but after the interview there’s at least one question that nags at you.
Not the question, but the how you answered it. It’s the familiar taste of regret.
“Oh, I should have answered this way, I should have said that!”
The big question is, now what?
Do you go back to the interviewer and clarify it? The answer is maybe.
Does it really matter?
Did you really mess it up?
Is your other answer so much better that it merits another point of communication? Or just a little better?
Don’t get me wrong, I like points of communication, but you have to be careful that you take the opportunity to communicate with the interviewer with something that will be impactful… the most impactful!
I don’t want to scare you away from communicating with people who in any other situation are your peers and colleagues, but I want to encourage you to reach out with information that can have a real influence.
The best suggestion I heard in this situation is to include your alternative answer in the follow-up you do after your interview. You are doing that, right?
For example, let’s say you were asked “tell me about your most successful project you’ve worked on, and why was it successful?”
Your answer was okay… it was fine. But after the interview the question nags and nags at you, and having thought about your career you think of a few other answers. In the follow-up, you might say something like:
“John, thank you for the opportunity to talk about the product manager opening you have at your company. I’m very interested in this role and think that I can add a lot of value to your team, and the direction of your product. I look forward to the next steps in your interview process, and welcome any follow-up questions.
In our interview you asked me about the most successful product I have managed. I talked about XYZ, which of course I’m very proud of. There are a couple of other products that I worked on earlier in my career that I didn’t think about when you asked, but I’ve thought a lot about it since then. The first was ___________…..”
Here is why this is so powerful. First, most candidates don’t send any follow-up. When you do, no matter what you say, you will stand out as different.
Second, in this follow-up, instead of saying what the interviewer (aka decision maker or influencer) is expecting, and what other people write, you are carrying on the conversation. You are reminding them who you are, what your story was (from your first answer), and then going on to say “and that’s not all… here are some other great things you should know.”
One of the problems with the job search process, from the job seeker’s perspective, is that a resume does not represent all of the breadth (amount of things a person can do, has done, skills, abilities, etc.) and depth (length of experience, amount of expertise). Let’s say that you have a lot of breadth and a lot of depth… and you have a few tools that help you convey the scope of your breadth and depth. Namely, your resume and the interview.
Can you see the problem here?
When your resume is one or two pages, providing a very summarized view of your awesomeness.
When your interview is 45 minutes (give or take), you don’t get to go to the extent of your breadth, or the end of your depth. You get to convey a few snapshots… points in your career, but 45 minutes isn’t enough time to really tell your story, is it?
How, then, can you fill in the gaps?
A follow-up letter, like the example I shared above, is a great way to do that. Also, a great LinkedIn Profile with mini-stories that fill in the blanks. Having a brand such that others talk about you (the right way) and perhaps a blog (that can really fill in the gaps on breadth and depth) and perhaps an about.me page… all of those are tools to help you go from someone who is maybe right for this position to someone who is, no doubt, without a question, right for the position!