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Four Ways to Salvage an Interview Gone Wrong

8 November 2019


Sweaty palms, stomach in your throat. You’re rambling about topics not situated with the question, or you’ve gone deathly silent. Almost all of us know the feeling of making a BIG mistake during an interview.

You might be tempted to reach into your bag and produce your ‘white flag of surrender’…but wait, let’s not get overly dramatic here. EVERYONE stumbles in interviews once in a while – the trick is in how you handle it so that your interviewer can look past it.

There are strategies that you could use to win back your interviewer. We’ve outlined some examples of common interview blunders and how you can deal with them.


Running Late:



It’s unavoidable – even the most punctual people are sometimes late and unfortunately, it seems like obstacles always tend to rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient of times. While showing up late to an interview certainly isn’t a good look, it doesn’t mean that you will be ‘out of the running’ entirely.

The best thing you can do is to be proactive. Reach out well ahead of time if you’re running late.

If you predict within a reasonable amount of time that you are going to be late, it’s a good idea to call the hiring manager or recruiter to let them know.

Once you arrive, acknowledge your tardiness and explain why you were late, and take FULL responsibility – you don’t want to come across as making excuses. Afterwards, always make sure to reach out to your interviewers or recruiter.

A personal email of apology after the interview, to re-explain the reason for your lateness and acknowledging the time they have taken to see you, should be well received. Good manners are important characteristics in business and your apology will hopefully show that your lateness was ‘out of character’


Nerves Getting the Better of You:



Few things are more anxiety-inducing than an interview for a job you really want. As a result, it’s not uncommon for candidates to completely draw a blank when asked even the simplest of questions whether that be struggling to articulate or forgetting to mention important details. You probably feel that you’re drawing the wrong kind of attention to yourself but, believe it or not, it may actually benefit you…hear me out.

Ask for a time out and acknowledge to the recruiter that you need a second to regroup. You can tell the interviewer that you’re an introvert, and even if you did practice and prepare for the interview, you need a moment to find your calm. The recruiter might actually view this as an authentic gesture and most people will be supportive and encouraging in these moments.

To avoid this situation altogether though, just make sure to double down on your prep for interview next time. Grab a friend or family member to go through potential common interview questions and even rehearse them so you know them like the back of your hand.


You Didn’t Do Your Homework:



It’s true; an interview is just as much an opportunity for you to learn about the business as it is for them to learn about you. But it is still imperative that do some additional research beforehand.

Many interviews will consist of the history of the business and the role itself and many interviewers would expect you to be prepared to know a little more about their background, if you don’t…it could be a major turn off. With so much information being publicly available, people expect you to have done your research.

If you don’t find ways to include this, it can show that you’re maybe not taking the interview seriously.

If your answers are vague, or even if you trip up on a basic question, try not to let it worry you too much. If you dwell on your mistakes, you’ll be thrown off your structure and possibly struggle throughout the rest of the interview. Instead, take a deep breath and focus on hitting the rest of the questions out of the park.

Once the interview is over, there is always the opportunity to follow up with an email with the research you have gained after the fact.


You Don’t Have Any Questions:



Ok, so here’s a secret – when interviewers ask whether you have any questions for them, they are not just doing it to be nice. They often use it as a test to gauge your interest in the opportunity, how much you know about the company and how engaged you are in the interview.

Interviewers almost always ask what questions you have and if you are only focused on preparing answers to other questions, you won’t be ready for this one.

Ideally, you would always have a few detailed questions on hand that show off your knowledge of the company and their industry, but sometimes life gets in the way. It may have slipped your mind or been too pre-occupied to come up with questions. If that is the case…try something fairly simple and generic such as “How do you see this role developing?” or “What is it about the company that keeps you motivated?”


Keep Going:



Making a major misstep in an interview is never a good feeling, but the strategies above could potentially get you out of a jam.

Best-case scenario, these will remove any concerns an interviewer had about you and maybe even move you to the next stage, even if you are unsuccessful, you’ll walk away with a valuable lesson.

Odds are, you’ll never make the same mistake again, so it’s only a matter of time until you excel in an interview and get that great job offer.




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