How To Recover From A Rocky Entry Level Interview


It’s inevitable that we will all have at least one horrible-why-did-that-just-happen-to-me type of interview.

Perhaps you got lost and showed up ten minutes late.

Maybe you called the interviewer by the wrong name, or couldn’t seem to properly express why you wanted the position.

Regardless of what went wrong, bad interviews can be salvaged.

Before you hang your head too low, take a look at how you can make the most of a bad interview.

Reflect on the Experience

Start by putting a positive spin on things and focusing on what went well. This allows you to acknowledge the bad things with a less self-defeating attitude. Then, note what you would change about the interview and identify exactly where you went wrong.

Live and Learn

After pinpointing your mistakes, figure out what you should have done instead. If this job interview didn’t go well, it’s still an opportunity for a learning experience and it can serve as practice for future interviews.

Build a Bridge and Get Over it

It’s natural to focus on your negative feelings for awhile, but don’t let yourself linger on these. Accept what happened and move on.

Follow up and Explain what Happened

As always, send a thank-you note to the interviewer to thank them for their time. In this note you can acknowledge whatever slip-ups you made. For example, if you had a weird response to a question they posed, you can recognize the fact that you misunderstood the question and apologize for any confusion.

That being said, make sure you only acknowledge mistakes you are 100% certain others caught, or else you might draw attention to unnecessary bloopers and appear even worse than you thought you might have.

Notify the Interviewer of any Outside Distractions

If your interview was a bust because you were distracted by a major life event (a death in the family, for example) it’s okay to contact the employer afterward and explain this. Don’t use it as an excuse, but rather as a quick explanation following up an apology for being distracted. Regardless of whether they take this into consideration when assessing the candidates, you will feel better about how you left things.

Only Apologize for Specific Slip-ups

Your interview probably wasn’t as bad as you think, so you definitely don’t want to portray yourself poorly for no reason. However, if there are mistakes that weren’t acknowledged at the time (for example, calling your interviewer by the wrong name), you can mention that you realized you misspoke.

Apologize briefly and use your discretion as to whether an explanation is necessary (“My roomate’s name is Diane so I must have had that name stuck in my head!”)

Unlike milk, when an interview goes bad you don’t necessarily need to throw it away.

Photo credit: Green Traffic Light (5A) by zeeweez on Flickr