Are You Conducting Job Search Post-mortems? You Should Be. — Careers Done Write

The question I am asked most frequently is, “Why am I not getting interviews/callbacks/offers when I’m putting in all this effort?” I know that job seeking can be frustrating and that the process is often lengthier than candidates would like. To make it less frustrating, you must be strategic and precise in executing your search. Many job seekers go about executing their search in ineffective and inefficient ways. Among the tactics you can use to optimize your job search is the practice of conducting interview post-mortems.

Although it sounds a bit gruesome and conjures images of a pathologist conducting an investigation, a post-mortem is standard protocol for the end of any big project. It is a process by which you analyze components of your interview and determine what was successful and what was not. More than merely a reflection or a debrief, a post-mortem requires you to take a deep dive and to look objectively at what happened. What went right? What could be improved? What can you learn and apply to the next one?

A day or so after you have an interview, spend some time crafting a personal debrief. Be honest with yourself. This debrief should include the following: 

  • The name of each person you met.

  • Specific concerns/priorities each interviewer had.

  • Observations and questions that you had.

  • Any areas in which you think that you were weak or particularly strong.

  • Overall assessment of how you think the interview went.

Out of your post-mortem, you should be able to come up with at least one productive takeaway that you can use going forward. For example, I will devote more time to practicing my STAR responses to answer behavioral questions more quickly and succinctly in the future.

If you had any areas where you felt you were particularly weak, the post-mortem will help you target them and help you plan for the future. For example, if you struggled to answer, “So, tell me about yourself,” use the post-mortem to reflect upon that. Write a response to that prompt, and practice saying it out loud. Take your debrief and use that as the basis for the content of your follow-up letters. It is not merely a letter of thanks. It is a communication in which you reiterate your strengths and the unique qualifications you bring to the job. If there are any concerns or unanswered questions that an interviewer expressed, the follow-up note is the perfect time to address them. A strong follow-up communication is one which:

  • Establishes rapport with the recipient.

  • Is specific in its purpose.

  • Is succinct but not generic.

  • Follows up on a discussion that took place during the interview.

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