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Job Interviews: 10 Impressions You Leave Behind After an Interview

You work so hard preparing for your job interview – if you’re lucky enough to even get an interview in the first place. Then finally the big interview day arrives – you do your best to make a good impression and before you know it, your job interview is over! And there you are… stuck in the old waiting game wondering what are your chances of getting a second interview and no idea what kind of impression you left behind.

Did I do as well as I could have? Did I make a good impression? Could I have answered my interview questions better? What are they really thinking about me now that the interview is over?

Well…I can’t speak for everyone, but for me a job interview is kind of like tasting fine wine…there’s the initial impression, the way it tastes while drinking, and the feeling you’re left with afterward. And it’s that very feeling that can make all the difference as to whether you actually buy the wine…er…get the next interview and eventually the job.  Too bold?  Too acidy? Not yet mature? Too mild-mannered?  Too complex? Not complex enough? Not memorable at all? Or is it just the right blend of characteristics?

More Ways a Job Interview is Like Tasting Wine

Following up on my analogy, I found this excerpt about wine-tasting on Wikipedia.  Hah! With some obvious differences, it kind of fits after all – especially the second part, which almost reads like job interview tips!

The results of the four recognized stages to wine tasting:

  • appearance
  • “in glass” the aroma of the wine
  • “in mouth” sensations
  • “finish” (aftertaste)

– are combined in order to establish the following properties of a wine:

  • complexity and character
  • potential (suitability for aging or drinking)
  • possible faults

Complexity. Character. Potential (for the company). And possible faults. All possible things an interviewer looks for. I couldn’t have written that better myself!

What kind of job interview impression do you leave behind?

In thinking about people I’ve interviewed and helped hire over the years, certain things about the candidates stayed with us after the job interview and, in the end, these “aftertastes” strongly influenced whom we hired. Based on that, I put together a list of things you might want to remember that will help determine the kind of impression you leave:

Do you have good energy? That means good physical energy as well as conveying a positive way of looking at things/approaching problems.

Were you present in the interview or always thinking ahead? Be present. Trust yourself.

What was your body language like? Did you sit up straight, meet my eyes when you spoke, and show confidence in who you are and what you have to offer (with a minimal squirminess factor)?

Did you answer my job interview questions? It’s ok to steer your interview answers toward things you really want to talk about to show the kind of employee you’ll be, but don’t forget to answer what was asked and not stray too far afield!

Do I have a sense of who you are and how you’d be to work with? All else being equal, most employers basically want to hire someone pleasant to work with – someone who will pitch in without being asked  & look for solutions rather than merely pointing out problems or causing new ones.

Do I feel I can trust you? People think they need to lie in job interviews to get hired. Sometimes it works – although most of the time not for long. But if you just do your best to be yourself and answer truthfully, you have a better chance of leaving that all-important after interview impression of being trustworthy.

Are you flexible? I’ve interviewed folks who make it clear they have one way of doing things and don’t like change. The one thing you can count on in the workplace is change and new challenges. Be open to learning and growth. Mostly just be open.

Are you a resourceful self-starter? Are you able to find solutions and suggest new projects or ways to improve things –  and not just waiting for someone to tell you what to do?

Are you likable? Already alluded to above, but so important to the whole job interview process it deserves its own section. You have to be someone people actually want to work with. Hint: Know-it-alls and people who are full of themselves (to try to prove how good they are) are not likable.

Did you leave me with some interesting stories that showed real-life work examples of things you accomplished or problems you solved? A good strong story can have a positive long-lasting aftertaste.

Now I can’t tell you how to make all that happen in your interview. That’s up to you. And I can’t promise you if you follow each and every one of my job interview tips, you’ll get the job. There still has to be a good match.

But while you’re worrying about how to always give the absolutely positively fabulously perfect job interview answers to all job interview questions (no such thing, by the way), I want you to also remember this:  after an interview, what is left behind is a whole-picture impression greater than the sum of your individual job interview questions and answers.  And the more you can relax and be yourself in the interview, the more the sum will be greater than the parts.

Some final job interview success tips for acing your interview

So with all that in mind, I want to leave you with a few final suggestions that summarize what you can do to help yourself give the best interview possible:

  • Be yourself and not some idea of who you’re supposed to be
  • Keep your job interview answers focused and positive
  • Show where you’ve made things happen in the past that benefited your employers
  • Sit up and make good eye contact with all the interviewers
  • Listen carefully and answer the actual job interview questions you’ve been asked
  • Relax as best you can. (Try thinking of it as simply a good business meeting with colleagues you like and respect.)
  • Leave with a  smile, a handshake, and the same good energy you showed all along.  It’s the last impression they have of you, so make it a positive one!

Good luck!

What impression do you leave after the interview? Do you focus too much on the details of the job interview questions and answers and miss the bigger picture? Do you have any job interview tips you’d like to share?

Some Posts Related to Job Interview Success Tips: 10 Impressions You Leave Behind After an Interview:

What the Heck Goes on Behind the Scenes After a Job Interview?

After the Interview: Why Haven’t They Called Me Yet?

18 Practical Job Interview Tips to Help You Ace that Interview

Stuck in the Waiting Game After 2nd Job Interview

The Single Most Important Thing in Any Job Interview

BONUS REMINDER:  Never threaten to punch someone in the nose during an interview!

Why “Punch Him in the Nose” Is NOT a Good Job Interview Answer

 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of 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. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. Ronnie, I liked your point about not being a know-it-all. Of course you want to make the impression that you know your stuff, but not in a way that puts off the interviewer. One way to tread this fine line is to ask intelligent questions that show you understand your subject matter, while demonstrating a little humility.

  2. Thanks Susan! Good suggestion and nice reminder about the humility. I’ve seen candidates do themselves in just because what they probably thought of as confidence left the impression they were way too full of themselves.

  3. I attended an interview on Wednesday, 7 April 2010 yesterday and I was told I would be notified in due course. Its has only been one day so far but I am beginning to feel very anxious. I’m not sure whether to ring the person who interviewed me to find out if a decision has been made or to wait until tomorrow (Friday). Can you please advise me. Many thanks,

  4. I had an interview yesterday, and after the interview I was given a sheet w/orders to create a spreadsheet and average the numbers, in additon to creating a table w/added info. I know I made a couple of mistakes as I only had 20 min. and she walked in and halted the test, I did not go back and check- can you lose out of the job because of a few errors on the test?

  5. Hi Anita!

    I’m not sure how to respond since one or two days is so short a time. Patience is a real virtue when it comes to interviews – believe me…they don’t forget. ;-) Maybe this post will help:

    After an Interview: Can Weekly Follow Up Calls and Emails Help Get You the Job?

    Best of luck!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  6. Hi Eleni!

    Uch! It’s so hard when you’re given tests like that during the interview process. I don’t think they get to see the real you – but at least you tried your best. It’s all anyone can do.

    No way to know how any one company will handle something like this – they all have different criteria for hiring and how much weight they give to tests. To me the way they use these tests says something about the company.

    I certainly hope it turns out good for you, but my best advice is to keep looking and hope that an even better job shows up! Sometimes these things happen for a reason.

    In the meantime, if you haven’t already read it, you might find some sympathy from this post:

    Will Brain Scans One Day Replace Job Interviews?

    Good luck. Please let us know what happens. ;-)

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  7. Hi. Thanks for this article. Very interesting. I would like to publish this article on the my site. This is site for employers and job seekers. Free for all.
    There will be back link to this page or to home page of this blog.
    Do you agree?
    Best regards.
    Dimitry.

  8. Thanks Dimitry. While I’m honored by your kind words and request, I have to politely say “NO.”

    My policy is to give permission to only reprint a few short paragraphs at most and then point readers back to the original article with my blog’s name clearly stated. I do this to protect my Google standings and also because writing articles is a lot of hard work! ;-)

    Thank you for understanding!

    ~ Ronnie Ann

  9. Great Information. This will help me to shape my next interview! Thanks!

  10. Thanks, Stacy! I wish you much luck in your job search. Go git ‘em! ;-)

  11. You made no mention of doing drugs before the interview. I always smoke before the interview for it calms my nerves and allows me to focus much better.

    • chandlee says:

      Dre,

      The problem with smoking is that the smell of smoke can be a red flag to some employers. Many American employers have a no smoking in the workplace policy.

      I don’t recommend taking any drugs prior to interviewing — with the exception of prescription drugs or OTC if you have allergies, a headache or a cold. Especially given that some employers have drug tests as a requirement for employment.

      Chandlee

  12. Hi I’m 18 years old and have a job interview at McDonald’s on Sunday (13/05/12) And i have had 2 job interviews before this, i got the job for a previous one but failed another, therefore i don’t think my responses during the interviews were bad as i ended up getting the job, however i kind of seemed a bit over confident, i properly revised my notes as most of the questions that were asked i had looked up online. Is this a negative? I’ve read a lot of forums about job interviews at McDonald’s apparently they call you for an interview because they liked your application and are desperate for staff, apparently meaning if i do well in the interview i should be hired. As logical as that sounds it might not be the case, maybe other people did better idk? But like i said i am thoroughly prepared, i swear i revise my notes more than i do for my A-Level examinations lmfao. Anyways if you could get back to me ASAP that’d be great.
    ~ Tish

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Tish,

      No interview is ever a sure thing — I’m glad that you are doing your homework. Keep it up and make sure you touch on all the bases for an interview: make eye contact, shake hands firmly, ask good questions about the job, and provide examples of how you’ve succeeded in the past — that show how you can succeed in the future.

      Take it seriously. While many people don’t think about it, working for a global company like McDonalds can be a very good thing — I once met a fellow who started a job delivering pizzas and later became a Senior Distribution manager for Papa John’s Pizza in Europe.

      Good luck with your interview.

      Best,
      Chandlee

  13. Also I have a hearing disability, i can hear well i would just need to put my hearing aid in if the area i was working in got really crowdy and sounded like a football pitch lmao. But i don’t think i put that i had a disability on my application, do you advise me to tell them during the interview if or when they ask?

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Tish,

      You can certainly let the employer know that you have a hearing disability as well as the hearing aid necessary to fix the problem. That you disclose the disability — and the free solution you bring to solve the problem on the job — should not hurt your application for the advice.

      All the Best,
      Chandlee

      • Thanks for your reply Chandlee, no one would reply for another two weeks or something lol. But I got the e-mail from McDonald’s during the week and it’s been playing up on my mind ever so much. I kept thinking to myself (and complaining to friends and family) “what if they don’t hire me because they think im a liar for not stating it on my application”, “what if it’s a negative and a bad first impression”, “what if this, what if that”. The best advice i have been given by my mum is to tell the manager when we first meet after introductions to briefly let him know that i have a disability and that i wear an hearing aid to help me hear in busier areas, i’m not too sure if i put this on my application but I thought i’d let you know as i know it is important that i disclose this before we proceed”. I think that’s pretty much word for word what i am going to say. Do you think there’s anything i should take away or add to it?
        P.S: Is it bad to apply for a job such as McDonald’s where it can get busy, knowing that I am severely deaf (like i said i can hear without my aid, it’s just more better for health and safety in the workplace and to help hear customers etc). Maybe I am worrying too much.
        And yeah i enjoy revising my notes it makes me more confident in what to say and so i don’t like dumbstruck when i’m being asked certain questions LOL.
        Btw what does ‘hte advice’ mean?

        • chandlee says:

          Hi Tish,

          I think what you plan to say is perfect.

          You don’t need to say you draw attention to the fact that you have a disability, just simply say — I use a hearing aid to hear in busier areas.

          If hired, I would wear my hearing aid and would not need any other accommodations. I can hear well with the hearing aid. I’ve been told that I’m a great listener — in part because I really pay attention to make sure that I hear well. If hired, I feel confident that I can do the job.

          Good luck.

          Best,
          Chandlee

          P.S. I think hte advice was a typo.

  14. Im scared.

    • chandlee says:

      Racquel,

      Being scared is a common experience. Address it. Work through it. You’ll feel better. If you don’t face it head on and go ahead and interview, it will likely be impossible for you to get hired!

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

  15. Ronnie,
    Thanks for your advice, I thought I was being OCD and depressed during the waiting game. After my third interview, this employer did call me stating that I had interviewed very well, however they hired someone else that had more contacts at this particular customer. It had nothing to do with me and that they would be hiring another person in the 1st quarter 2013, so I dropped a note when I saw the job posting. After a month, I received a call asking if I was still available and yes I was. He then stated that the president was coming into town and they would like to schedule an introduction (meet and greet). That meeting went well. And I was told the next step was to coordinate a trip to headquarters for plant tour and to meet the team and he would get back to me within the next couple of days. I did send another quick thank -you noting I’m excited and looking forward to our next dialog, however it has now been 1 week without any response or call. Should I drop a note now before the Easter Holiday or wait until after.

  16. Hi Ronnie,

    I have a final interview next week and I don’t know what to expect. I have been through several rounds of interviews. First, it was a phone interview with the hiring manager. Then I was brought in for in-person interview with 12 people for 4 1/2 hours! The first and second batch were the team I was going to work for if I get the job and the last part was the team’s respective manager including the hiring manager (if I get the job, I will directly work for him). After the intense interview, I was interviewed briefly again by the HR recruiter. The recruiter said that there will be another interview (final). If I make it to the final round and it’s a good indication that I got the job. They called me back exactly 1 week later stating “great news! we want to bring you back to meet your boss’s boss!”.
    I am very nervous! I really don’t know what to expect and what they’ll ask this time. I feel like I have answered all the possible questions that can be asked already!
    Also, they’ve scheduled it on a Friday at 4:30 pm.
    Your thoughts?

  17. Nonhlanhla says:

    Hi Ronnie

    i had an interview yesterday and i had managed to stuff up, i applied for a post as an executive secretary and we had to do a typing test and fix errors on the paragraph they gave us. And so there i was nervouse and trying to fix the spelling mistakes, only to find that the grammer was inaccurate as well, but it was too late because i had already submitted the paper. the interview went well and i managed to answer all the questions accurately , even managed to show my humerous side. My question is how important is the hard copy and is it possible for them to overlook it because the interview went well?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Nonhlahla,

      Follow up with a very grammatically-proper thank you, and ask if it is possible for you to retake the test because you were so nervous that you didn’t do you best work.

      But, you might not get the second chance. I have a feeling that doing a perfect job under pressure might be a job requirement. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t respond with an offer to re-take the test.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  18. Hi Ronnie,

    I had an interview with the CEO and a manager of a small organisation. The interview atmosphere was nice, they didn’t have set questions. I am very interested in this job and shown my enthusiasm during the interview. But the question of my retrenchment came during the interview as well. At the end I wanted to show a presentation, to which they hinted second interview but didn’t make an appointment. After reading my references they said it tick all boxes. I was the first interviewee on Friday(31/01/14), the company is doing more interviews on Monday and Tuesday. Please help me with any insight whether I have any chances?

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