Bad InterviewDid you just have a job interview? Are you feeling uneasy about your performance? Here are three sure signs that your interview, or at least a part of it, didn’t go as well as you’d hoped—and what you can do to salvage it.

  1. Your small talk was smaller than you intended. Your interviewer was energetic, even playful, and began your interview by chewing the fat. But you were caught off guard, awaiting and still ruminating over your perfect answer to “What is your greatest weakness?” You came off as stuffy, flat and inattentive. What can you do to fix it? Be pleasant and personable with the receptionist, the security guard and everyone else you come across, beside your interviewer. It’s possible that such rapport will find its way back to your interviewer once you’ve left the building, thereby giving him/her a “second opinion” as to your general character. Also, add something light and smart to your thank-you letter, such as an interesting blog post you read on your commute home that somehow ties back to some topic discussed during your interview. This will show that you can engage in something like chit-chat.
  2. You bombed, or flat-out couldn’t answer a question. “Um…uh…well…can you repeat the question, please?” You were rattled. It happens. What can you do to fix it? If you find yourself fumbling over an answer, try to save face before the interview ends by telling your interviewer that you would like to do a bit of research, that you would prefer to think about it further, and that you’ll provide a more detailed answer that evening. Later, when you write your thank-you letter, include a detailed, strongly written answer to the question at hand. If apropos, you might also point your interviewer to an article or blog post you’ve written, or a presentation you’ve delivered, that proves you know the topic despite your mid-interview blooper.
  3. You were late to your interview. Even with the best planning, if your car or train breaks down, you could still run late to your interview. What can you do to fix it? Apologize once, but no more than that. And don’t overdo the apology with a long explanation of why you were late; you want your interviewer to zero-in on your relevant accomplishments and skills—not the “stupid bus”! Apologize and move on to why you’re there. Many interviewees will fold under the pressure of having been late to the gate, but by doubling down your focus, you show resiliency—that you can move on from a bad start and still win the day! Even at the end of the interview, you’ll feel obligated to apologize again for your tardiness—but don’t. It’s over.


And keep in mind: no matter how disconcerting your goof-up, never ask for a “do-over”. It’s best to just forge ahead. Your next opportunity will provide you a chance to do better.