If you take time to prepare and choose your potential employers well, you should perform competently or even exceptionally at an interview. But, we are humans, not machines. Every now and again, something will go wrong, and you’ll underperform — or perhaps totally bomb – at an interview.
After such a catastrophic showing, it may seem to you like you’ve blown all your chances of landing the job — but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you do find yourself walking out of the interview from hell, you’ll want these three tips to help you rebound:
1. Take a Realistic View of the Situation
In the heat of the moment and the emotionally fraught aftermath of the interview, it is easy to be melodramatic about the situation, making it seem much worse in your head than it actually is. Do you remember those types who’d come out of exams convinced they had failed, only to walk out of school a few weeks later as valedictorian? Yes, the interview process can be kind of like that.
After a seemingly disastrous interview, it’s important to put emotions aside and take stock of the situation. Look back at the interview clearly and objectively. Revisit your answers to each question and rate yourself. You may find that you actually answered the majority of the questions quite well! It may even turn out that you only made a couple of small mistakes that you can easily rectify in your follow-up letter.
You could also conduct a deeper analysis and review your performance against CareerBuilder’s list of the most common and most memorable interview mistakes. The top blunders included: appearing disinterested, dressing inappropriately, appearing arrogant, talking negatively about current or previous employers, and answering a cell phone or texting during the interview, among others.
At the end of your sober analysis, you should have a more realistic view of the supposedly disastrous interview. Then, you can take the appropriate, measured action to redeem the situation — or at least move on in an effective way.
2. If Possible, Redeem Yourself or Run Damage Control
After doing your analysis, you may find that the situation is redeemable to some degree. Is so, it’s time to write a thank-you note — but with some additional commentary. In this note, you should be looking to address any key objections to your candidacy that the interview may have raised or any questions that you failed to answer by further demonstrating your competency and qualifications in the relevant fields.
This could also be an opportunity to call in a favor from a reference. Studies show that interviewees with recommendations are 40 percent more likely to be selected for the job. If you can back up your skills and abilities with supportive words from influential references, now is the time to play that particular hand.
3. If the Interview Is a Lost Cause, Move On — and Don’t Make the Same Mistake Again
If your objective analysis leads you to believe that there’s no way for you to redeem yourself, it is probably time to cut your losses and move on.
As you move on, you should try to learn from your experiences so that you don’t make the same mistake again. Supplement your own objective analysis of what went wrong with some firsthand data by writing to the employer and requesting interview feedback.
The interview feed back should give you a reliable explanation of what went wrong at the interview, enabling you to make sure those things go right at the next interview. For example, you might find that you gave weak answers to behavioral questions, meaning you can rehearse and prepare better situational responses for the next time.
Depending on how bad your interview truly was, following these three steps should help you redeem yourself in the employer’s eyes — or at least better prepare yourself for your next interview.