A bad interview is incredibly anticlimactic. After days, weeks, even months of pounding the pavement to arrive on the doorstep of a potential employer, you already know how much is riding on your first face-to-face impression.
The fear of failure can be mounting, but to err is only human. You won’t have a perfect interview every time. And when things do go south, it’s important to remain confident in your ability to push forward with your job search however you can.
One of the ways you can keep going after a fumble in an interview is to move on to the next employer. That said, you don’t necessarily need to lose all hope for the one you just interviewed. In fact, there are several ways to try to get things back on track with a company even after a not-so-good interview.
In this article, we’ll explore just how you can proceed, on much stronger footing.
Take a break, and take a breath
Interviews can be lengthy processes, consisting either of several component sections, or even one long drawn out meeting. As you work through all the necessary steps to fulfill your potential employers expectations, you may find yourself fatigued and exhausted from the heightened sense of urgency you feel to do your best.
If that’s the case, it is completely reasonable to ask for a short break, to collect your thoughts and recharge your batteries, so to speak. Get the oxygen flowing to your brain by going for a short walk, outdoors if possible, so that you can avoid the burnout of the interview process, especially if it’s not going so well.
It is also ok to catch yourself if you are moving too fast. Maybe you give a halfhearted answer to a question that you feel you could improve upon. Simply pause and explain that you would like to repeat that question or section before moving on. Many interviewers will appreciate the level of self awareness you project when you are able to correct yourself on the fly, as well as the responsibility of owning up to your less impressive points.
If you feel the energy drop, engage!
You are not the only one who will feel a decline in the quality of an interview. The people interviewing you will notice as well, or perhaps they themselves are the ones that are exhausted and distracted, leading to the conversation becoming monotonous and uninteresting. Remember, they likely have many interviews to complete, on top of their regular duties, and that added level of responsibility and activity can be just as tiring on them as your nerves make the interview process for you.
If you start to notice them slipping, turn the conversation around on them. Turning the tables and engaging your interviewer can shake them out of their funk, and help you regain control and confidence in the situation. Some of the ways you can do this include humorous anecdotes when describing your past experience, upbeat body language and positive facial expressions, or outright asking them questions. There’s often no reason you can’t ask clarifying questions during the interview, such as what they appreciate most about their organization, what a day in the life of an employee there looks like, or what they gain on a personal level from their employment.
How to ask for a second interview
If all else fails, and the interview as a whole is still a flop, you can ask about starting again from scratch.
As with any important interview, you should follow up regardless with a thank you note; typically, an email. If you are hoping for a do-over, this is a great opportunity to ask about re-interviewing for the position.
Be sure to express your continued interest in the position, as well as rehashing some of the best values you would bring to the team. When it comes to explaining why you were not as proud of your first interview as you could have been, be honest, humble, and succinct. Perhaps you had a family emergency, or were ill, or used the wrong name when speaking with the interviewer. Whatever the reason may be, state it and move on. Your goal is to earn a second interview, not to justify your previous performance.
If you have references that were never contacted, include their information once again. They can speak to the fact that your poor performance was a one-off, and help reassure the potential employer that you have, overall, a great track record.
Take it as a learning opportunity
After trying your best to get back on the good side of your potential employer, you may still find yourself rejected. And, just like when you don’t hear back after shopping your resume around, a dead end doesn’t mean there’s no way forward.
Take some time to reflect on what happened, and what series of events led to that unfortunate outcome. Once you have a grasp on what went wrong, you’ll be able to circumnavigate such issues the next time around.
Remember, we learn from our mistakes. They are, often, the times in our lives that allow us to be our most human selves. And without occasionally feeling broken down, we wouldn’t be able to build ourselves up again stronger than before. So, if you find yourself struggling with an interview, or feel one was a failure, these recovery tips can help you get things back on track, and learn to move forward feeling more confident and prepped for success than ever!