Have you ever walked out from an interview feeling absolutely gutted? Knowing that everything that could go wrong, went wrong? We have all been there, at least once, when we know with certainty, that we will not be selected. Generally, what follows a bad interview is, over-analyzing what went wrong, going over the same details in a loop, then eventually coming to terms with it, and finding a new job. A job interview can go south, in two ways: one, if the conversation you had was disappointing and you couldn’t justify your answers and experience, or two, everything else, namely, you refer to the person by the incorrect name all during the interview, or you never realized you were having a bad hair day until after the interview was over. However, the ordeal can be much less excruciating, if the following are done, immediately after a bad interview:
- Thank-You notes: Any interview must be followed up by a telephonic call or email, thanking the interviewer or the person who arranged it. This is also an opportunity to do undo some damage. For example, if you forgot to talk of an achievement, or realized the answer you gave was incorrect, there is no harm in acknowledging it. Sure, it might sound futile, but your ability to identify and own upto your mistakes could work in your favour.
- Do damage control, but don’t be apologetic: Following from the above point, do not apologize, unless you did something unspeakable. On second thought, even if you did something unspeakable, like spill water on the interviewer, damage office property or anything over and in the same league, do not apologize and remind them again of it. In the follow-up email or call, mention why you were anxious. Communicating that this was your first interview in years, or that a personal tragedy had you distracted, is something you could consider. You could request for a follow-up interview, and worst case, you will get a ‘No’, but it is still worth a shot. Never be overly apologetic, for you might think the interview went terrible, but maybe the interviewer doesn’t see it that way.
- Make a record: Immediately after you leave the interview premises, make a record of the things that went wrong, the questions you couldn’t answer, and what exactly you are feeling. In this immediate aftermath, you are likely to be most honest, and with time the details will keep getting hazy. No matter if you hear back on the job or not, revisit these notes after a few days to objectively identify what went wrong, and how to improve from there on.
- Identify the pitfalls: Ask yourself the following questions: Were the mistakes made avoidable? Could the questions be answered better? Did I know the answers, and got confused, or did I not know the answers at all? Was the interviewer being extremely harsh and making it tougher for me? Establish your role in the downfall of the interview.
- Get feedback, if possible: If you happen to have the details of the person who interviewed you, get in touch with them, without wasting much time, to help you get feedback. They might not always be forthcoming, or interested, but if they are, you get to learn the mistakes you made. If this is not possible, talk to a colleague or friend, about what you think went wrong, so that the both of you can put together your experiences, and help you identify the weaknesses and strengths.
- Work on the weaknesses, and create a PoA: Once you have worked out what went wrong, create a Plan of Action to rectify those mistakes. Do you need to work on communication? Or do you need to polish your interview technique? Do you need to study more, get more training, or brush up your knowledge? Create realistic plans to work on areas you lag in.
- Analyze, don’t brood: Last but not the least, do not get into the counter-productive habit of brooding and over-analyzing what went on during the interview. Repeating the same details, or questions, or answers, and living the same ordeal over and over again, will not help, if you do not choose to learn from it. Yes, the interview went bad, but it is also over. Do not go into ‘what ifs’ scenarios.
Look at it this way - The sole purpose of a bad interview can be assumed to be, to prepare you for the next interview. So do not think about a bad interview, more than you should. Do not give up, and keep working on yourself, to better your skills and knowledge.
Do you remember a bad interview moment? Share it with us!