So the interview didn’t go as intended? It’s okay! Stop cursing your luck and see what you can learn from it.
By Anne John
You know it the minute you step out of the interview room. You’ve messed up. Despite all your preparations, the interview was a flop. It happens to the best of us and if you are a working woman, chances are it is bound to happen to you too at some point in your career.
While there is loads of information available on how to ace interviews, the truth is sometimes, somehow, somewhere things go wrong. Afterall we are human. In my 7 year long working life, I’ve attended 6 interviews so far – out of which I landed the job 3 times and goofed up the rest. I remember crying my eyes out and feeling down in the dumps after my first ever interview – in which I had goofed up spectacularly. Anyway with a 50:50 success rate, let me tell you how I have learnt to handle my messed up chances!
To the interviewees, it seems like the interviewers’ job is easy. But in reality, if you’ve ever been at the other side of the table, you will soon realise that it is not so simple. Appreciate the time that they’ve spared for you and drop an email to convey your thanks.
To be frank, if you really messed up the interview, you have essentially wasted both yours as well as their time. I see no harm in apologizing and explaining yourself – maybe it was your first interview and you got overwhelmed, maybe you were returning after a career break and you got nervous. Don’t send in a long-winded email making excuses or blatantly trumpeting your shortcomings – no one has the time or patience to read superfluous emails – much less from a person who did not even get the job! Be concise and convey the message that you are brave enough to admit your mistakes and willing to learn from them. Who knows? You might just earn some brownie points!
It’s over and done with. You might have waited for a long time for this opportunity and when you mess it up, naturally you might feel like kicking yourself. Fine; go ahead and scold yourself a bit – and then stop. Often, when we make blunders, we tend to view ourselves rather uncharitably, forgetting all the great things about us. Don’t keep demoralizing yourself with negative self-talk like “Oh, I am so useless!”, “I messed up such a simple interview. I will never get any job!”
Look at the big picture instead of concentrating on one goof up and avoid viewing everything in a negative light. Crib your heart out to a friend; but then go back and read that appreciative email your current boss or colleague sent you some time back. Go out, divert your mind instead of dwelling on the goof-up, hang around with people who make you feel good, watch some movies that make you laugh! Don’t worry too much; mistakes happen and there will be other – maybe better – chances.
Once you are out of the negative frame of mind, sit down and take a balanced look at what went wrong. Were you asked unexpected or tricky interview questions that simply threw you off-balance? Did the interviewers seem cold or overbearing? Did you just go blank because of a sudden panic attack? Were you distracted by your surroundings? Analysing where the slips occurred will help you get to the next step.
Once you have identified what really went wrong, think about what you can do about it. If you are having communication problems practise, ask a friend to conduct some mock interviews with you and to point out your errors. Or if you suspect that you get too anxious, practise speaking in front of a mirror.
Read up on what to expect in similar interviews. Talk to others who are in similar roles to find out about their interview experiences. If you are coming back after a career break and find that you’ve been out of touch with current market trends or events, or you’ve forgotten how things were done, make sure to retrain and brush up on your knowledge.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t do well in an interview. Remember, failure is a stepping stone to success. As with most things in life, perseverance pays. Keep up your job search, refine your job skills, perfect the art of interviewing and eventually you will land that perfect job that you’ve been looking for!
*Photo credit: Matthew Marksbury (Used under the Creative Commons Attribution License.)