We’ve all done it: you get asked to interview for a dream job and it’s all downhill from there. Maybe you were so excited that you forgot to listen to what the interviewer was asking, or perhaps you were dealing with personal issues and weren’t able to focus properly. Regardless of what happened and why, all hope is not lost. Here are a few strategies you can use to bounce back and stay on the hiring manager’s radar:
Evaluate the situation objectively
It’s easy to work yourself into a panic after a bad job interview, but a seemingly catastrophic interview may not be as disastrous as you think. First, give yourself some time to unwind after the interview is over. If you start to think about it right after it’s concluded, you’ll only feel more worried. Once you’ve cooled off a bit, it’s time to write out exactly what you think went wrong. This includes points you forgot to mention, flubbing your words, or misunderstood questions.
When the list is complete, think about the severity of the problems. If you accidentally called the interviewer Matt and he was Mike, move on. It happens. But if you completely forgot to mention relevant job experience, consider a way to correct this. Lastly, you should also take some time to think about why the interview went so horribly wrong. In some instances, a bad interview can be a sign you don’t want the job. If the atmosphere made you uncomfortable and it got you flustered, maybe that company is just not the right fit.
Figure out how to proceed
If you have contacts within the company, you can talk to them and see if they can get an honest assessment of what happened. They can help you understand the extent of the damage, and may even be able to help you correct the problems. If you don’t have anyone to talk to, follow up directly with the interviewer. Wait at least 24 hours (you don’t want to appear crazed) and then write an e-mail or call and clarify some of the errors that you made. Begin the call in a casual tone, and subtly segue into one of the points that has you worried.
You can also send a thank you note, and use the letter as a chance to sell yourself more effectively in order to make up for mistakes during the interview. If you’re really concerned, you can hint that you’d love to chat again, but don’t come right out and ask for a second interview.
While interview errors can be frustrating and disheartening, keep in mind that the damage may not be as extensive as you think. We tend to be hardest on ourselves, and chances are that the potential employer barely noticed the small flubs.
Have you ever had a disastrous interview? How did you recover? Share your story in the comments below!