No matter how qualified you are for a job or how much you truly think you’d be a good fit for the position, sometimes the interview just doesn’t go your way. For bad interviews, quickly correcting the mistakes can wash that bad taste out of your interviewer’s mouth and allow you to be re-considered for the job.
If you sense an interview is going south, turn the tide with these tips on how to recover from a bad interview.
Take a Deep Breath and Ask for a Repeat
Sometimes interviewees flub basic questions. Maybe you answered a different question than the one that was asked or maybe you became nervous and gave an answer that isn’t true to yourself. Before sinking into your chair and hurrying through the rest of the interview, take a deep breath and ask if you could answer that question again. This will signal to the interviewer that you are self-aware and capable of correcting your missteps in the workplace.
Turn the Tables, Interview the Interviewer
It’s not uncommon for interviewees to find themselves interviewing to a tired and bored audience. Some interviewers are simply exhausted after sitting through multiple rounds of interviews and sifting through large pools of candidates, on top of their regular duties! If you sense the enthusiasm in the room waning, start interviewing the interviewees when it comes to question time. Ask why they like working there or what they feel they gain personally from their position at the company. This will force the interviewer to focus on you and engage their interest. When answering questions, keep your responses succinct and apply a story where appropriate to keep them engaged.
Address the Bad Interview in a Thank You Note
If your bad interview went off the rails and never recovered, don’t lose hope in getting an offer. Instead of burying your head in the sand, expand on the traditional “thank you” note by explaining what went wrong. Maybe you were distracted by a recent family emergency or maybe you spent the entire interview calling the interviewer by the wrong name. Often, being straightforward about what went wrong can reverse any bad feelings left after a bad interview.
Learn from Your Bad Interview
Some bad interviews simply cannot be recovered. Don’t despair; learn from your past mistakes. If you flopped on some questions, prepare yourself next time by researching common interview questions and coming up with a few short stories that highlight those attributes you display in the workplace best. If you spent the entire interview avoiding eye contact and fidgeting, have a friend or family member sit down to conduct a mock interview to prepare you for next time. If you can’t pinpoint exactly what went wrong, enlist the help of trusted friends and advisors to conduct mock interviews with you and identify your weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up over a bad interview, simply prepare for the next.
The bottom line is that even the most experienced interviewer has also been a party to a bad interview. Rather than avoiding the issues during your interview or hoping they were ignored, facing them straight on will show employers that you are capable of seeing your mistakes and responsible enough to admit to them. If there is no recovery, learning from your mistakes and applying solutions to future interviews will help you get other jobs.
Looking for more interview tips? Check out our Career Resources »