How to Recover from a Bad Job Interview

If you’re like most people, you’ve left a job interview or two with that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You just knew you didn’t get the job from the way things went during the interview. If you have ever been in a situation where the interview turned into a runaway train, there are still some things you can do to recover. With some practice, you’ll be able to save your interview from going south. Here are a few tips for how to salvage a job interview gone terribly wrong.

Man talking during job interview.

Job interview | Source: iStock

Problem: Your hands are shaking and you can’t stop sweating.

Solution: Take a few deep breaths

Nothing can ruin an interview faster than sweaty palms and a bad case of the shakes. One reason you may not be performing well during the interview is because you might be letting your nerves overwhelm you. Job interviews can be incredibly stressful, so it’s not surprising if you feel a bit anxious during your meeting. If you feel yourself getting anxious and jittery, take a few deep breaths so you can calm yourself down. It’s hard to stay focused and relaxed if you can barely catch your breath due to nerves. Once you breathe deeply, you’ll feel calmer and able to think clearly enough to answer the interviewer’s questions.

Man talking during an interview

Man talking | Source: iStock

Problem: You’re not sure how to answer the interviewer’s question and now you’re rambling.

Solution: Stop talking and ask for clarification.

There may come a point during the interview where you stumble through an answer because you don’t fully understand what is being asked. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you need clarification, ask for it. It won’t help you to guess what you should say when you can simply request that the interviewer explain what is being asked.

candidate in a job interview

Man thinking during job interview | Source: iStock

Problem: You only catch half of the question because you’re planning what to say next.

Solution: Ask the interviewer to repeat the question and then try to stay present.

Don’t start to answer the question in your head before your interviewer is even finished asking her question. You’ll not only make yourself more nervous but also lose track of the conversation. Concentration is key during a job interview. It’s easy to focus so intently on how you will answer a question that you miss what is being said. Take time to relax and listen to what the interviewer is saying to you. The best way to save face is to say that you want to make sure you answer the question thoroughly, so you’d like her to repeat the question one more time. If the interviewer feels you weren’t listening, that will be a strike against you. Try your best to play it off and then stay present from then on. If you need help staying focused, repeat the question back to yourself (in your head, of course) before answering.

Source: iStock

Uncomfortable interview | Source: iStock

Problem: You bombed the job interview.

Solution: Send a follow-up note.

What if you did all of the mistakes mentioned above? (You were a nervous wreck, you rambled through most of your answers, and you didn’t catch half of the questions.) We’ll be honest with you: Your chances of getting the job are quite slim. However, don’t give up hope. You may come across an exceptionally forgiving hiring manager.

If you completely bombed the interview, your best bet is to send a follow-up note. Thank the interviewer for his or her time and then briefly answer the questions you had trouble with. Who knows, the interviewer may have a change of heart and take your updated answers into consideration. Following up shows not only that you’re interested in the job but also that you’re aware of and willing to work on your flaws. Just keep your fingers crossed and look for other jobs until you hear back.

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