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  1. Blog
  2. Interviewing
  3. October 5, 2023

Post-Interview Self-Evaluation: How to Conduct an Interview Autopsy

Plus, how to use your self-evaluation in your thank-you email

woman conducting an interview autopsy
Photo courtesy of Pavel Danilyuk

Regardless of whether you completely nailed or bombed a job interview, self-evaluating and reflecting on your performance is crucial. 

Using what career experts are calling an “interview autopsy,” you can start collecting data on your interview skills. The goal: to have a comprehensive record of each interview you complete so you can reference them and use them to study for any future interviews.

“Nobody is perfect,” says interview and career coach Tazeen Raza. “We all have areas we’re good at, as well as areas of opportunity. This process helps us understand ourselves and what we can do for the next interview so that we don't repeat the same errors and expect a different result.”

Let’s walk through the process of creating an interview autopsy and how you can utilize it to improve your interviewing skills and grow your career.

Read more: Hard Interview Questions Are Easy with These Expert Strategies

What should you include in an interview autopsy? 

After an interview ends, write down everything you remember about the interview. Emphasizing the urgency, Raza says, “It's really important to write your thoughts down immediately after the interview to ensure that you don't forget the discussion.”

The autopsy should include both the basics (the company information) and the specifics (the interviewer’s questions and your answers). 

In as much detail as you can remember, jot down this information: 

  • The company name and job title you interviewed for 

  • The interviewer’s name and contact information

  • The specific questions the interviewer asked you and your responses 

  • Your questions for the interviewer and their responses

Once you have the concrete details in writing, it’s time to evaluate your performance. Raza suggests beginning with what you did well and working from there to see what you could’ve done better.

Analyze the effectiveness of your answers

Compare your performance to the job requirements and responsibilities outlined in the job description. Did you address each bullet point adequately? If not, make note of the areas where you might have fallen short. 

Consider the responses you gave to the common interview questions. Were your answers clear, concise, and relevant? Did you provide concrete examples and demonstrate your qualifications effectively? If you used STAR (situation, task, action, result) method stories to answer behavioral questions, assess how well they showcased your skills and accomplishments. Were they specific, focused on your contributions, and convey the results of your actions?

If you were fired or laid off recently, were you able to respond honestly when the interviewer asked why you left your last job?

More questions to ask yourself about your responses include:

  • Did you successfully highlight your strengths and accomplishments?

  • Is there anything you left out or missed in your responses? Could you have elaborated more?

  • Did the interviewer voice any concerns about your qualifications? 

  • Is there anything you said you wish you hadn’t?

Evaluate your body language and demeanor

Body language can convey confidence and enthusiasm in times your language falls short. Think about your nonverbal communication during the interview. Many people have anxious habits during interviews like tapping fingers, playing with hair, or shifting in their seat. Were you aware of any nervous mannerisms, and did you manage them effectively? 

If there were interruptions or distractions during the interview, how did you handle them? Did you remain focused and composed? Nonverbal communication isn't just about what you express, it's also about how you receive information. Did you maintain good eye contact, display a positive attitude, and engage in active listening?

Read more: 7 Expert-Approved Ways to Soothe Interview Anxiety

Consider the thoughtfulness of your questions

Next, review the questions you asked the interviewer. Were they thoughtful and relevant to the position and company? How well did you demonstrate your knowledge of the company and its industry? In addition to role-specific questions, consider whether you asked about the company culture, team dynamics, or the organization's values, like their commitment to pay equity and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

Try to remember if the interviewer responded, “That’s a good question,” to any of the questions you posed. Did you ask open-ended questions that encouraged the interviewer to share their own personal insights and experiences? What do you wish you’d asked that you didn’t?

Read more: 93 Questions to Ask in an Interview That Will Actually Tell You About the Job

Assess your overall performance

Take an overall view of your performance. Did you come across as confident, enthusiastic, and well-prepared? Did you effectively communicate your qualifications and interest in the role? Based on your self-evaluation, pinpoint areas where you could have performed better. This might include improving your response to certain questions, enhancing your knowledge of the company, or refining your interview presence.

More questions to ask yourself about the conversation as a whole:

  • How well did you introduce yourself? 

  • Did you speak calmly and clearly?

  • Did you research the organization thoroughly and integrate that into your answers?

  • How did the interview close? What next steps did the interviewer describe?

  • Did you establish a good rapport with the interviewer?

  • Were things left on a positive or optimistic note?

Raza says once you’re done analyzing the interview, identify three things you’re proud of and two areas of opportunity. “This ratio is the best way as it stops one from being over-critical,” she says. “The bottom line is, we have to be realistic with ourselves since the main goal is to get hired. If we’re overly critical, we will second-guess everything we say.”

Your chart for improvement could look something like this:

Things I did well: Things I can improve:
I was well prepared. I researched the company and role thoroughly, tailored responses to match job requirements, and brought relevant examples from my experience. I can be more concise. Some of my responses were too lengthy, so I can work on brevity and use the STAR method to structure responses effectively.
I remained engaged. I maintained good eye contact and a positive demeanor throughout the interview, asked thoughtful questions, and actively listened and responded to the interviewer's cues. I can better control my body language. I noticed occasional fidgeting, so I can work on maintaining composure and be mindful of facial expressions and gestures.
I closed the interview effectively. I expressed genuine interest in the role and company, thanked the interviewer for their time, and inquired about the next steps in the process.  

How to leverage an interview autopsy in your thank-you email

Looking at your interview autopsy can be useful for crafting your thank-you email. Review which aspects the interviewer highlighted during your discussion and complete the following sentence: "Considering the points the interviewer emphasized during our conversation, the primary value I can offer is X." In your follow-up email, illustrate how you can address that need.

For example:

"Thank you once again for taking the time to interview me. Our discussion highlighted the importance of cross-functional collaboration, which aligns perfectly with my experience in fostering strong teamwork. I'd like to share a specific example from my previous role where I led a diverse team to achieve our project goals through effective collaboration."


"Your emphasis on customer-centricity resonated with me, as I've always been committed to ensuring customer satisfaction. I'd love to share instances from my previous roles where I've gone above and beyond to exceed customer expectations. I look forward to our next conversation to explore this further."

You can mention that you've taken some time to reflect on the interview and demonstrate your genuine interest in the role and commitment to self-improvement. If your self-evaluation highlighted specific areas where you believe you could have performed better, briefly acknowledge them in your email. 

For example, you can add something along the lines of: 

"I wanted to follow up with you about a specific part of our conversation. I know I struggled to select a story to share when you asked about a situation in which I demonstrated technical problem-solving skills. After we ended the call, I realized I should've shared the complex software debugging project I successfully led during my previous position."

Remember that every interview is a learning experience, and rejection doesn't necessarily reflect your worth or abilities. The key is to use your self-evaluation as a tool for growth and continue to refine your interviewing skills.

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