I don’t know anyone who can honestly say that they have never had a bad interview. It happens. It probably happens more often than you would think. Sometimes it just turns out that people who were a good fit on paper are simply not a good fit in person. It also happens that sometimes a candidate will learn something about the job while in the interview that makes it unacceptable to them, and that can certainly be awkward for everyone.
Here are a few suggestions for how to handle it if you think the interview is going badly.
1. Stop, take a breath and ask if you may just start over.
If you are extremely nervous, it’s okay. Interviewers expect that, and in fact, they will be suspicious if you come off as too slick and comfortable. Nerves are to be expected, and you will be given a lot of slack around that, I promise you.
Having said that, if you are so nervous that you realize you may be bungling the interview because you are giving incoherent answers to the questions you are being asked, you might need to just stop and take a breath. Ask if you may start over. Admit that you are nervous, and you realize that the answer you were just giving was nonsense. Then start over slowly and with care. Make sure you are answering the question you were asked, and then answer it to the best of your ability. If you are a good fit for the position, answering the question shouldn’t be overly difficult.
You might think that this tactic will not work for you, but you may be surprised. Interviewers are generally nice people, and if you are sincere and authentic and obviously nervous, they will be happy to give you a second chance at the question.
2. Ask them a question…especially if they seem to be disengaged.
A sure-fire sign that an interview is going badly is that the interviewer or the panel of interviewers start losing interest in you while you are still there! They lose eye contact with you. They don’t respond the way you think they should when you share a success story or offer a humorous anecdote. They start to check their phone while you are talking. While that is just rude, and I hope it never happens to you, you need to be aware and note if you have your interviewer(s) with you or not. Are they engaged? Are they asking follow-up questions? Are they smiling and maintaining positive body language and good eye-contact?
It is up to you to pay attention to all of these things, and note if the dynamics in the room changes while you are answering questions. If you take note of that, then disrupt the energy in the room by turning the tables on your interviewer(s) by asking them a question. It will change the energy in the room and garner their attention again.
3. Make the most of the thank you note.
If things didn’t go as well as you would have liked, or if you think of something that you should have said or wished you had said after the interview is over, make the most of the thank you note by mentioning whatever it was there. Don’t come across as defensive or go overboard, however. The thank you note should still be brief and to the point. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can undo an interview gone sour with the thank you note alone. You can say, “I wish I had thought to mention…,” or “I failed to point out that I…” to get a last point in before they make a final decision.
Interviews are hard for even the most seasoned executive. You may have any number of them before you land your next job. Remember that with most things, the more often you do something, the better you will get at it, and that also holds true with interviews. You will win some and lose some. It goes with the territory. Don’t lose heart. Stay positive. Stay focused. Continue to look and apply until you receive an offer that you want and can be happy to accept.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a Work It Daily-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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