Getting a call from a company to come in for a job interview is like a Christmas gift no matter what time of the year it happens. You worked really hard on your resume and research and impressed them enough to get brought in. Now is your chance to prove to them why they should hire you. Sometimes, however, things do not go as planned and the interview for one reason or another goes horribly wrong. How do you recover from that?
If you are in your interview and you know it is starting to go down hill you can always try to insert some humor into it. Humor is tricky, but it can be very effective when it’s timely. A humorous remark often can break the ice and restart the interview on a more positive note. Self-deprecating humor isn’t always the best; so if you’re going to use a clever remark, stick to a job-related comment. For instance, if you’re uncharacteristically nervous, you could say, “To hear me stumble over my words in response to your questions, you wouldn’t think that my platform skills are great. But, I often get compliments on my ability to engage my audience during my speeches to large groups. It’s best to acknowledge your nervousness rather than try to cover it up.
If you get home and realize that things did not go the best that they could have gone, take the time to address it in your follow up thank you letter. Don’t make excuses, but be sure to acknowledge your mistakes. For example, if you feel that your responses to some of the questions were a bit off, send a well done letter to the interviewer admitting that you misunderstood their question. Be sure to focus only on those questions that you know you answered wrong, however.
You also want to use the thank you note to bring up things that you may have wanted to highlight, but forgot because of the way the tide had turned. You may have forgotten to bring up some experience that you have or you forgot to mention a connection that you have in the company. This note is a great place to bring that up.
Never apologize for a bad interview, but it is ok to say you are sorry for a certain slip up that you may have made. Remember, you don’t know what the employer is thinking, and maybe it wasn’t as bad as you think. If you did something that requires an apology, it’s a judgment call. If you already apologized in person there’s no point in repeating that apology. You don’t want to keep reminding the interviewer of what went wrong.
However, if you realize you accidentally called the interviewer by the wrong name, for instance, but didn’t realize it until later that you called her Mary instead of Marie, that might warrant an apology in your e-mail. Mention that you were embarrassed after the interview when you realized that you called them by the wrong name.
Lastly, do not beat yourself up over a bad interview. We all experience them. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just review it over in your head, try to focus on what went wrong and work on not repeating it. It’s not the end of the world. Learn from it and see it as a positive experience rather than a negative.