Ending the Initial Interview
Once you and the hiring or interviewing authority have gotten to the end of the interview, you're probably going to get an idea of what the next steps might be. Don't be afraid to be very assertive about pushing yourself into the next steps.
You may wind up being surprised that a lot of interviewing or hiring authorities may not be sure of what the next steps might be. Most often, even though you have pushed for the next interview, a hiring or interviewing authority is going to say something like, "Well, we have a number of people to interview. We're going to complete that process and then we're going to set up second interviews."
This is a perfect time for you to, again ask, "Based on what our conversation has been here, I would think that I would be in that group, would I not? So let's set up that second interview now." And you pull out your note pad or calendar and ask, "When would be good for me to come back?"
You will probably still get from the interviewing or hiring authority the standard, "Well, we'll get in touch with you." Again, this is an excellent time for you to find out how you really stand, relative to the other candidates, by asking, "Well, Mr. or Ms._, you must have some idea how I stack up with your ideal candidate or the others that you have interviewed. Please tell me what you think."
This kind of questioning (and statements) will usually get you a very good idea of how you stand. It is relatively aggressive, and it does not necessarily come naturally or easily. But if you practice asking these kinds of "hardball" questions, they will wind up becoming very easy for you.
If you don't get the chance to set a date and time for the next interview at the end of this initial interview, you need to ask and get clarification of exactly what the next step might be. Most of the time the interviewing or hiring authority will give you an idea about what the next steps are, but most likely will not commit to your coming back, at least at this moment. Don't worry about this too much. Remember, I'm emphasizing process. Getting an answer to how you stack up relative to the others is merely part of the process.
The Follow-Up Activity
The very first thing you should do after the interview, when you get into your car, is take out the notes you took during the interview and write down a summary of the interview on the form I have provided. Write down the high points of the interview: the major issues or topics that you spoke with the interviewer about. Summarize it for yourself: where you think your strengths are and where you think your weaknesses are relative to the interview. Write down your interpretation of the things that seemed the most important to the hiring authority, and make sure that you understand them clearly. Often, in the initial interviewing situation, we think we completely understand what a hiring authority is looking for, and we actually do not! The major reason you want to collect your thoughts immediately after the interview is so that you remember the important points: You cannot rely on your memory. It may be a two-to-four week period of time before the second round of interviews. You need to be able to refresh your memory with very good notes.
The important issues and criteria for hiring may change as the interviewing or hiring authority interviews more and more people. It is not surprising that hiring/interviewing authorities get confused about the candidates whom they have interviewed. Likewise, I have had candidates get confused and supposedly "remember" the wrong issues and embarrass themselves during the second interview. So, take very detailed notes after every interview on the form that follows and use them. Keep them in the folder for that particular employer and refer to them with your e-mails and letters. Keep them handy for when you go back to the follow-up interviews: Use them wisely and to your advantage!