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I had a big internal interview for promotion yesterday (yes, the one I previously asked a question about.)

It did not go as well as I hoped. Instead of the one person interviewing me, there were four as the interview had brought along other regional managers and instead of asked me competency based questions, they focused on highly hypothetical. It really threw me. I was hardly able to bring up my prior and relevant work experience up.

It wasn't a total train wreck but there was more I could have said so I want grab the bull by the horns in my Thank you letter and bring up my past experience to convince them I am right for the role.

How would you approach such a letter in terms of content and structure?

  • Do you feel everyone was well prepared for the interview? If they were, they may already be familiar with your past accomplishments. – user8365 Jun 20 '14 at 14:22
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    If it makes you feel better, two of my worst interviews got me my two best jobs to date. That said, @Vietnhi makes some fantastic points - if you don't get this one, work on being able to sell yourself without your experience. Knowing something in particular can only take you so far and, while there's no substitute for experience, interviewers are often very interested in the rest of your personality. Learn to display how dynamic you are, how good you are at learning and figuring things out and what a brilliant people person you are. More to the point - learn to do those things for real, too! – Dan Jun 20 '14 at 17:50
  • Thank you everyone for your comments/answers so far. As not being prepared for the interview, I spoke to several people doing the actually job and asked for their advice. Every one of them said that the interview was a competency based and I should look to include examples of where I have done the type of work before. So that's what I prepared. Anyway, I answered every question but there was scope to enhance my answers using my institutional knowledge as an advantage which I missed so I feel I was not as articulate as I could have been. The job is perfect for me so I am quite disappointed now. – Chris Jun 20 '14 at 19:51
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    Just for anyone curious, I did send a brief note thanking the interviewers but I have found out that I have not got the job - feedback on my application is pending. – Chris Jun 24 '14 at 11:25
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I think you are trying to focus on the wrong thing. You already work for this company and the people making the decision probably already know about what you have already accomplished and have probably talked with your current manager, as well as some of the people you have worked with at the company. They already decided to interview you based on your history, so they are already sold on that part. What they are interested in is what you can do going forward.

Instead I would take some time to think about the questions you were asked in the interview, try to figure out what skills and abilities they are valuing based on those questions. Then focus on those abilities and explain how you can use them in the new position.

  • Unless the OP feels otherwise, you're giving way too much credit to a company that assigned 4 people to interview one of their own with no advanced warning. Is it such a secret or was it done at the last minute? I don't think everyone was prepared. – user8365 Jun 20 '14 at 14:19
  • @JeffO - I do not see where you get that the 4 people were given no advanced warning. The OP was the one who was not prepared not the interviewers. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 20 '14 at 14:22
  • I interviewed with MITRE a couple years ago and was unprepared for 4 hours of interviews, with the division chief, two managers and four technical experts. A friend has said that even for internal candidates there are still multiple interviews for any single candidate. Basically, anyone who may end up relying on the candidate is offered the chance to interview. – CGCampbell Jun 20 '14 at 15:24
  • Chris says he wants the people to hire him. It means that is not already working in this company. Or maybe working there as a contractor ? – Nicolas Barbulesco Jul 23 '14 at 12:17
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I don't think you're going to be able to win a job with a post-interview letter; in fact, you run the risk of being pushy and causing the interviewer to rethink a position that they were going to hire you for. People do send out post-resume letters, but for the following reasons:

  • To be polite. It may not win you anything but sending a follow-up email that says "hey, thanks for the opportunity to interview with you" is a nice thing to do and as such all the things that go with being nice go into that (i.e. they might remember your politeness the next time they interview you for another position, being nice to people is its own reward, etc.).

  • To get feedback as to how you can do better in interviews in the future. I have absolutely done this myself. The trick here is to simply ask for advice and then, when you get the feedback, send back nothing but "thank you" as a response. Do not send a second email arguing your points, or even clarifying something. The interview is over with, and the interviewer is already doing you a huge favor in responding to you at all.

  • To advise the interviewer that you do not wish to be considered for a job. I know, this is the exact opposite situation from the one you're in but, well, SE is about giving complete answers.

Outside of those 3 reasons, there really isn't a reason to send a follow-up letter. Again, they've already interviewed you and all you can really do from here is lower your chances of getting that job. I know it sucks to be in a position where you think you can do a really great job somewhere but you muffed the interview - been there, done that - but the most you can do at this point is use the situation as a learning experience.

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Your unfortunate experience is a relevant reminder to me that while experience is important and often enough a prerequisite, it is not an end in itself. Mentioning experience is only a means to an end and means are more or less optional.

Thinking back over my career(s), in my most successful interviews, experience was hardly mentioned by either the interviewers or by me. I sold the interviewers - and in fact, the interviewers wanted to be sold - on ability and potential. I sold them on my ability and potential by impressing them with my ability to think on my feet.

It appears that you tried to use your experience - don't ever, even think of using your experience as a crutch - as a can opener. They were probably not interested in your experience because they either read all about it or they knew all about it from your immediate bosses. What they really wanted to gauge was your ability, potential and possibly, ability to think on your feet, and this is the part of the interview where you fell down on the job.

I suggest that your thank you letter includes some indicator of ability, potential and ability to think on your feet that at the very minimum, will keep them interested in you as a candidate in the near future. I don't think I can tell you more in terms of specifics, as I was not on the scene at the interview and I don't know you. However, you were at the scene and you know yourself. So, follow the Disney's "Lion King"'s advice "Dig deep!" within yourself, and go for it :) Next time you interview, give it everything you've got and go for it, win or lose :)

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I'd be totally honest explaining that the interview approach threw you a bit and it did cause you to fail in producing some specifics you feel are very relevant for them to know (obviously apologising and explaining that you realise that these of course, ought to have been provided to them during the interview).

In terms of letter structure:-

An opening paragraph thanking them for their time, opportunity and considering you for the position.

Then go on to explain how the interview approach threw you and wasn't quite what you had prepared for and although no excuse, had not raised the following... which you could naturally flow into.

To close the letter, be sure to thank them once again for the opportunity and their time in reading over the areas that you discussed and failed to supply in the interview.

Honesty can go a long way, especially in a job application process but that is how I would approach this scenario. Best of luck with it.

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    I wouldn't apologise or imply failure. It's pretty common to come away from a tricky interview feeling bad. Don't tell them you failed, they may not share the same opinion. Just thank them and emphasise areas that didn't come up in the interview. Always have a positive tone. – Fiona - myaccessible.website Jun 20 '14 at 12:38
  • I agree with the letter shouldn't imply failure and should come across as positive sure. It is worth being honest in explaining why you didn't get across these points at interview which was the route my answer was going down. – zigojacko Jun 20 '14 at 12:48

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