How to Recover From a Bad Interview

It’s a scenario that’s replayed in countless job interviews. Candidates walk into their meeting flustered by the importance of it and walk away suddenly realizing they might have blown the whole thing because of something they said--or failed to mention. If this has happened to you, it could feel like the end of the world. Rest assured; it isn’t!

If you completely missed the mark answering one of the interviewer’s questions or you forgot to mention some essential, relevant experience you have, it’s not too late to control the damage. But it’s not a good idea to immediately call the hiring manager and blurt out some possibly confusing explanation for your faux pas. This recovery requires a bit of thought and planning, so follow these steps to ensure you’re doing it gracefully:

Don’t turn a molehill into a mountain

The first step to solving any problem is to make sure there actually is one. You might replay the interview and come up with several things you want to change: your handshake would be firmer, your smile more natural, and your answers more crisp and concise.

While it’s normal to dwell on these little things, you are probably the only one who noticed them, so they will likely have no impact on your chances. Just let them go.

You are convinced you messed up and want to make amends

If you’re sure you completely bungled an answer or forgot some crucial information about yourself, you may want to consider a plan for damage control. First, you have to think about whether clearing things up with the hiring manager will help your chances, or will it just draw additional attention to your mistake.

If you conclude the additional information will make the difference and you can convey it in a few concise sentences, it’s probably worth the attempt. Just remember, hiring managers are busy and won’t take the time to read a lengthy email or sit through a long phone call. 

Say you’ve interviewed for a position as a CNC machinist, but you failed to mention that not only can you operate the machines, you also have experience programming them. This information could improve your standing considerably, so you should convey it quickly and concisely.

Repair the damage gracefully

Don’t apologize for your mistake. Don’t even mention it. Just send your interviewer a thank-you note and include the “additional information” with it. The informal note gives those details you failed to mention, but it neither overtly admits to a mistake, nor offers an apology. If it’s worth doing damage control, this is the best way to go about it.

Do you need help with your job search?

At United Personnel, we’ll use our 30-plus years of experience to guide you toward a job that’s the right fit for you. Whether it’s a short-term placement or a direct hire position you’re looking for, we can help you find it. 

Whenever you’re ready to make a move, make us your first contact!