Help me save a mediocre job interview
January 17, 2014 10:25 PM   Subscribe

I was flown in today for a full day job interview to be a consumer packaged goods global product category manager at a great company. The interview went okay but I can tell that I didn't wow the teams and there were some concerns expressed about my readiness for the position. Should I follow up with a vision deck?

Admittedly, I am writing this exhausted having just come back home after the full day interview. It was a 5am - 12am day with flying and I haven't totally digested, although I know I didn't walk away feeling like I nailed it.

My background is strong on the program management and product development side of category management, however, the hiring manager expressed concerns about my ability to uncover consumer insights and drive my own vision for the category. I am still getting to know the brand and I am wondering if I should take a stab at a proposed new product design brief to try to wet their appetites since the interview didn't wow? Or will I trap myself in a worse situation by possibly presenting something that is off brand and doesn't actually speak to their consumer?

Any other suggestions (besides a thank you card) on how I might save this?
posted by wind_up to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd recommend a solid night's sleep and then some awake time (even just a few hours) to decompress before deciding on next steps. It sounds like you had an extremely grueling day, so take some time to get your body and mind back in order before deciding what to do next--especially if those next steps have the potential to backfire.

(Just a data point: I've come out of a number of exams and job interviews convinced it was a disaster and then ended up passing/getting the job. Adrenaline and lack of knowledge of your competition can make things seem much more dire than they are.)
posted by whitewall at 11:09 PM on January 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

I wouldn't do the brief, the risks are so high, it could be seen as presumptuous in the extreme, and branding guidelines are Byzantine at the best of times. The chances your will do something on brand without an insider are remote. I think something like this is more likely to put someone off than get them on board. I work in communications and branding.

Honestly, an interviewer should almost always have some doubts at this level, no one will cover all bases equally, and if they are prepared to fly you they are seriously considering you.Don't over think it.
posted by smoke at 11:35 PM on January 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

The rule of thumb is that the interviewee is in the worst possible position to know how the interview went, unless you did something like repeatedly insulting the ethnicity of the interviewer or boasting about a second career as a drug courier.

You're going to write them a thank-you letter anyway, and the custom in such a communication is that you express in some way "if there's more you want to find out about me, I'm ready and willing to talk some more." That really is your only concrete next step right now. They know they have the opportunity to address any possible concerns they might have about you, your skills or your area of expertise in a second interview.

Be patient. If you feel like it, you can continue thinking in general terms about the stuff in your interview, and if you feel like writing down an idea or two, go ahead. But mainly, you're waiting for the result of a process you know practically nothing about. The only general rule (and even to this there are exceptions) is that a new hire takes much, much longer to complete than anyone can conceive in his wildest imagination. In the meantime, live your life and try not to waste time second-guess yourself.
posted by La Cieca at 12:26 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't do this. Play it cool. There is more going on then you can control. Company politics, budgets, and whether someone liked the clothes you were wearing at the interview may be a bigger factor. Interviews are somewhat arbitrary. Embrace this fact. Trust that these people are better informed about your ability to grow into the role than you are. If you get an offer, great. If not, use the experience to do a better interview somewhere else.
posted by quadog at 1:17 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't do a deck, but I'd mention it in the thank you note. Something like "I enjoyed our conversation about the product vision, as I have done xyz in the past and would love to have an opportunity to blah blah blah."
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:41 AM on January 18, 2014

No. An unsolicited deck from a candidate doesn't have a lot of upside to begin with, let alone an unsolicited deck on a topic like branding that you don't yet have an understanding of the culture and guidelines that you would need to do a quality job of. If I'm a hiring manager, the impression I'm going to get is of somebody who's so over-eager that I'm going to need to spend my time and energy constantly coaching you not to go overshooting your expertise and creating work where none exists. That's not a good look.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:03 AM on January 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

I was part of a hiring committee this year where one candidate, uninvited, did the whole "here is my vision for changing X, Y, and Z." It stood out in large part because they got every aspect of it wildly wrong and of course eliminated themselves in the process.

It may in the end be the right thing for you to do, but as others have said it's a high risk approach and not a decision you should make when tired and frustrated.

Good luck!
posted by Dip Flash at 7:03 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone, although I didn't get the job, I am really glad I didn't create this deck! Sage advice.
posted by wind_up at 8:14 PM on May 25, 2014

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