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An interview do-over?

Q: I just finished an interview and I feel like I missed out. I want to reinforce to the interviewer that I am the right person for the job. I don't live far from the place, and I wanted to see about taking the person to lunch. Is this considered bribing?

A: Ah, the universal longing for an interview do-over! Even the Chief Justice needed a do-over to swear in President Obama properly. You usually don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression, but perhaps there are a few actions you can try that might help. Inviting the interviewer to lunch is not one of those. No interviewer will want to risk the hint of impropriety, the suggestion that he or she can be “bought” for the price of a good meal. If anything, interviewers take applicants out to lunch to impress their future hires or to assess them in a social setting.

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First, you need to ask yourself what went wrong with the interview. Are you unhappy with the way you answered only one question? You may have completely blanked on an answer, even though the question was about something that you knew. Or, you may have answered a question poorly – incorrectly, incompletely or by rambling. If so, you have the perfect opportunity to “do over” your answer in a thank you note. You can refer to the question in your letter, and then answer it better detail than you did in the interview. You can begin by saying something like, “I have had the opportunity to reflect on the excellent question that you asked me about x, and I would like to provide you with some additional information that demonstrates my experience with or understanding of x.”

Were you unhappy with the way the interview went as a whole? You may realize that you somehow felt “off “during the interview and that you appeared to be lacking in energy and enthusiasm for the job. If this is true, try sending a follow-up e-mail, expressing your interest in and strong qualifications for the position. Attach any additional supporting materials that demonstrate your qualifications – e.g., a writing sample or a link to a web site that you designed.

Do you have the sense that you and the interviewer didn’t hit it off at all and that you never established rapport. It’s not always the most qualified candidate who’s hired; instead the nod may go to the applicant whom the interviewer thinks interviewed the best. If that’s the case, then there’s probably not much that you can do to remedy your situation. Accept that this sometimes happens, move on to the next interview, and hope that you and that interviewer will “click”. If the interviewer is the person who would have been your boss, then be grateful that you and he or she won’t have to work together every day.

Do you feel that you have new information to share, or that you were not asked about how your qualifications fit the requirements of the job? If so, you could try requesting another interview, but don’t be surprised if your request is denied.


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