The 6 stages every person goes through in the hours after a job interview.

What happens once the interview’s over?

You’ve been to an interview for a new job. The lead up has been busy: CV writing, transcript certification, referees and so on. But what happens after you’ve been through the interview process? Let’s look at the six stages immediately following a job interview.

1. Nailed it.

A series of moments from the interview flash across your mind like a montage from The Voice.

You are sharp, articulate, confident and just the right blend of serious and witty. You did a great job, good on you. You imagine the panel of interviewers commenting with knowing nods and smiles to each other after your departure, a clear indication that you are the one they were after. They share your best responses, comparing their notes from your time in the room.

One member of the panel, Bruce is his name, simply shares the smiley face that he drew as you waxed lyrical about the job and how you’d be able to contribute to the company’s strategic plan.

“You did a great job, good on you.”

2. Hindsight is 20/20.

An hour or so has passed since your interview. Maybe it’s just the adrenalin slowly leaving your system, a low after the euphoria of actually making through the series of questions without vomiting on the panel of interviewers in your anxiety, but you’re starting to see some gaps in your responses.

In the moments immediately following your interview you thought you were (and I quote), ‘articulate, confident and just the right blend of serious and witty.’ Now you’re wondering if you came across as tongue-tied, arrogant and neither funny nor sincere.

The posture you adopted on the armchair now seems all wrong – no longer do you come across looking like Hugh Jackman on the Letterman show, all relaxed and charming. No. Now you think you came across like the love-child of Alan Jones and Gina Rinehart: looking like you owned the joint as you spread out on the couch and fielded questions with a nonchalance bordering on apathy.

Did you actually ask them for a double-shot espresso when they asked if you wanted anything? Surely not. But still, despite the fantastical visions that now plague your mind you start to feel a growing panic that you didn’t make the most of your answers, that you could have said more. Indeed you prepared better responses than your memory allows you to see now. This leads us to the next stage.

“Now you think you came across like the love-child of Alan Jones and Gina Rineheart”.

3. The DeLorean Stage.

This stage is characterized by a yearning to locate a fully functional DeLorean time machine and a scientist by the name of ‘Doc’ and go back in time to re-do the interview.

Marty McFly’s mission to save his family and make sure his parents fall in love seems pretty insignificant next to your hopes and dreams at the moment. (A side note: you may be familiar with this stage from other moments in your life. The DeLorean Stage is what you experience after an argument with someone where you find yourself replaying the conversation and then saying things to yourself like: ‘I should have said….’ Or ‘Why didn’t I say…..!?!?!?’ You have all the witty responses to their quips but only an hour or so after it happens. You promise yourself that you’ll be prepared for them next time, but you know that this is unlikely to happen… sigh).


For the next 4-16 hours you replay the interview over in your head, wishing you could add a line here or there, drop a few key terms, show them the breadth of your knowledge. But the time has passed, leaving an ugly but inevitable stage that you must traverse.

4. Self-righteous indignation.

Between 16 and 24 hours after the interview you start to wonder when you might hear back. As the hours drip away you begin to develop a certain cavalier attitude to the job and your potential future bosses.

I mean if they don’t see your value then it’s their loss right? Besides, you don’t even really care if you get the job or not. You just went for it for a bit of experience, to shake up your work colleagues and get them saying nice things like, “Awwww, don’t go! We’ll miss you!” Yeah, you saw how the panel was looking at you as you came in. They think they’re better than you. Do you need people in your life like that? No you do not. You don’t need to prove yourself to them.

In fact, you have so much self-respect that you might even call them now and withdraw your application. Then we’ll see who is upset. (Note: you may have noticed that this stage bears some similarities to Stage One: Nailed It! The individual does seem to revert back to their level of confidence from stage one but in a distorted and narcissistic manner. In fact, some studies have concluded that the degree of indignation directly corresponds to the initial levels of confidence that the subject possesses immediately following the interview.)

“After 24 hours there comes a general feeling of acceptance, a sense that you can’t change what happened in the interview and that no amount of replaying and analyzing will change its outcome.”

5. Acceptance.

After 24 hours there comes a general feeling of acceptance, a sense that you can’t change what happened in the interview and that no amount of replaying and analysing will change its outcome. Platitudes like, ‘I gave it my best shot’, ‘You’ve got to throw your hat in the ring’ or ‘It was a good learning experience’ can be heard from your own voice and those of your close friends or loved ones. This is in part because they have a genuine concern for your welfare and also because they probably think you stuffed up the interview and are preparing you for the worst. You know this, but you don’t care. You’re tired from thinking and over-thinking. You just want to move on. This of course leads us to the final stage…

6. Knowing.

Your phone goes off. You wait out three rings before answering, not wanting to look like you’ve been desperate for this call. You press the button and start with a casual, ‘Hello?’ A voice can be heard on the other end…

Tim Murray is a father of two who writes about the busy, enjoyable and sometimes bizarre world of being a parent and anything else that takes his interest. He writes for his website Grin and Read it. 

What do you do following a job interview?

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