Have you ever left a job interview with a gut feeling that you completely blew it? Most people have and the natural response is a tall order of feelings of frustration, shame, disappointment and sometimes even—depression. Walking away to wallow and wish things had gone differently won’t benefit anyone. Instead, follow these four ways to recover from a bad interview and use the experience to your advantage.
1. Pause and reflect. Before you start beating yourself up, reflect on the overall interviewing experience. Dale Carnegie said, “When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.” Force yourself to first think logically and ask yourself, what went well? The answers will enable you to gain perspective with a less defeated attitude as you process the aspects you believe that you bombed.
2. Put your thoughts on paper. It’s impossible to simply delete feelings of discouragement. Instead, address them by writing everything down as soon as you leave the interview. Note every single thing you felt went wrong or could have gone better in raw language; no mincing words. A few days later, review what you wrote to clear up anything that may have been inaccurate, exaggerated, etc. Lastly, sharpen your interviewing skills by focusing on what you can do differently in your next interview.
3. Procure feedback. Sometimes our perceptions are wrong so it’s important to share the experience with a few people we trust, value and respect. A friend of mine once told me she had the worst interview ever and when I asked why, she responded, “The interviewer barely looked at me. He just kept writing things down as though he didn’t want to be there.”
To her surprise, not mine, she got the job! It turns out that the hiring manager was documenting specific work experience that deemed her an ideal candidate. When stakes are high, it’s important to apply Dale Carnegie’s 19th Human Relations principle, ‘Appeal to nobler motives,’ by having honest conversations to gain objective opinions. Doing so enables you to gain perspective and become a better interviewee.
4. Follow-up with the interviewer. Even if you believe that you blew the interview, send an email or hand-written thank you note a few days later thanking the interviewer for the opportunity. This is an opportunity to, ‘Give honest, sincere appreciation,’ Mr. Carnegie’s 2nd principle and explain what went wrong.
Apply his 12th principle as well, ‘If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically,’ however only mention the mistakes you are certain the interviewer caught or you may reveal another issue that would have been otherwise missed. For example, if after reflecting you feel that one of your responses was way off target, apologize and admit a misunderstanding of the question. This level of honesty and integrity just might make the interviewer give you a second chance.
Everyone makes mistakes. All that matters is that you learn from them and move on to the next opportunity.