How to Recover from Common Interview Mistakes

Posted: 03/11/14 | Category:

Sometimes you have a bad day.  Sometimes that bad day happens when you have a job interview scheduled.  But just because your interview goes the way of the apocalypse doesn’t mean that the job is out of your reach.  If you find yourself in any of these tricky interview situations, take the following steps to mitigate the damage and get yourself back in the game.

You are late

No matter how prepared you are for the interview, sometimes you still end up being late.  Even if you know the route and leave early, you never know when the stars will align against you.  It happens.

The first thing that you should do is call the company, apologize, and give them your approximate time of arrival.  When you get there, apologize again to the hiring manager and offer a brief explanation of why you were late. 

Stress how important their time and this opportunity is to you and move on with the interview.

You have a wardrobe mishap

You may have picked out the perfect outfit for the interview.  You may also have spilled coffee on it while in the car.  The trick is not ignoring the situation.  This can cause the hiring manager to become distracted for the entire interview as he or she wonders why there is a giant brown spot on your lapel.

Call attention to the stain at the outset of the interview and explain it.  This will allow you, and the hiring manager, to focus on more important matters.

You botch the first impression

Maybe you mistimed the handshake or made a bad joke during your introduction.  Fear not, you have the rest of the interview to make up for it.  The trick is to calm yourself down, put it out of your mind, and continue with the interview.  The lasting impression you leave on hiring managers is far superior to the first impression.

You can’t answer a question

Even if you’re prepared, you still might run into a question that you simply do not know how to answer.  If you find yourself in this tricky situation, it serves you best to fess up that you don’t know the answer.  The only way to make yourself look worse is to fumble your way through a response that leaves you looking both foolish and full of bologna.

Most importantly, express interest in learning more about any topic or skill that you are unfamiliar with.

You can’t make it to the interview

Worst case scenario: you are unbearably sick and cannot make it to the interview.  While this is in no way an ideal situation, it can happen.  You don’t want to show up to an interview looking like you just rolled out of the emergency room, which is even worse than cancelling.  Do yourself a favor by calling, apologizing, and rescheduling the interview at the next available date.

How can you recover?

Just because you have fallen victim to one of these unfortunate interview situations doesn’t mean that you’re automatically out of the running.  Following up your interview with a thank you letter is a step that many job seekers skip.  Doing so can improve your chances at the job.  Plus, you can clear up any misconceptions and add anything that was left out during the process.
Working with a recruiter can always help your job chances.  In case of an emergency, they can contact the company to reschedule and will even help to alleviate the effects of a disastrous interview.  Contact one today to help with your job search.

By Kevin Withers

[Photo Credit]