Creating a Job Interview After Action Review (AAR)

Sgt. Chris Rohling, squad leader with Provincial Reconstruction Team Kapisa, currently training at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., for deployment to Afghanistan, leads an after-action review using video footage of the training they just performed on the new Counter-IED Collective and Individual Mounted Training Program, Dec. 1, 2011. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Matt Scotten)

During your time in uniform, it's likely that you completed or participated in many after action reviews (AAR). These important tools help teams and organizations monitor what is working and what isn't, to ensure better execution in the future.

When searching for a civilian job, the AAR is also a helpful tool to monitor your effectiveness and efficiency in landing a career that is meaningful to you. In particular, an AAR after a job interview can help you assess:

  • Whether your preparation was adequate
  • Where your value proposition gained attention and interest
  • Blind spots in your delivery, narrative or materials that impacted the employer's decision
  • Whether this opportunity was a good one for you to pursue (or not)

The Job Interview

As you might already realize, not every job application is met with the invitation to interview. You might have success getting lots of interviews, or you could apply to many positions and receive only a few interview requests.

Then all interviews are not created equal: There are in-person interviews, panel interviews (with multiple people on one side of the table, and you on the other), multi-person interviews (you are passed on from one person to the next to be interviewed), and video and phone interviews.

Each of these types of interviews brings unique challenges and opportunities, and your AAR will hopefully capture them.

The Job Interview AAR

As soon after the interview as possible, consider capturing these notes and thoughts and use this format for your review:

Company Name:


How I heard of the open position:

Was I networked into the interview?

If so, by whom?

Interview format:

Overall -- did the interview go well or poorly?

The Company

  1. Was I well-prepared for the interview?
  2. Did I research the company and the interviewers online? (their website, on LinkedIn, competitors' sites)
  3. Did I speak to people who worked there or used to work there about the company, culture and goals?
  4. Did I have good questions written out for the interview?
  5. What more could I have done to learn about the company?

The Interview

  1. Did I do what was asked of me in advance? (send in my resume, print copies of letters of recommendations, complete tests, etc.)
  2. Was I on time, appropriately dressed and well-groomed for the interview?
  3. Did I ensure my body language and eye contact showed respect, professionalism, confidence and approachability?
  4. Were my answers to their questions honest, succinct and focused? Did I clarify whether I'd sufficiently answered their question afterward?
  5. Were there any challenges during the interview? How did I handle them?
  6. Did I ensure that "next steps" were discussed before the interview concluded?

My Messaging/Materials

  1. Was I clear about how I can add value to the company and the position?
  2. Did I deliver my elevator pitch with enthusiasm and confidence?
  3. Was there consistency in tone, keywords and focus across my resume, elevator pitch and online profiles?
  4. Did I receive compliments on my materials? What did they like?

Blind Spots

  1. Were there any surprises in the interview? (questions I couldn't answer, guests I wasn't expecting, interruptions that broke my train of thought, etc.)
  2. Do I need to refine my resume, elevator pitch, social media presence or image?
  3. Did I apply for a position I'm not qualified to fulfill?
  4. Should I have done more research or preparation? If so, what could I have done to better prepare?

This outline is just that, a guide for the types of questions to consider as you debrief after a job interview. Over time, and with practice, you will see how completing an informal AAR after each job interview empowers you to be more focused and successful in your civilian career pursuits.

About Lida:

Lida Citroën is an international reputation management and branding specialist and CEO of LIDA360. Lida serves her corporate clients with personal branding, reputation management, online positioning and reputation repair strategies and implementation programs. Lida is passionate about helping our nation's veterans navigate the military-to-civilian career transition and is a popular speaker at military installations and events on veteran hiring.

Her best-selling book, "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition," offers veterans the tools to move successfully to meaningful civilian careers.

Lida also leverages her 20+ years in corporate branding to help private employers recruit, onboard and grow veteran employees. Her book, "Engaging with Veteran Talent: A quick and practical guide to sourcing, hiring, onboarding and developing Veteran employees," provides companies seeking to start or build on their veteran hiring initiatives with the tools and insights to be successful.

Lida is a regular contributor for and and is the recipient of numerous awards for her service to our veterans.

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