It can happen to anyone. For one reason or another - a late arrival, botching answers to key questions, failing to show knowledge about the company - you had a bad job interview. Although the proverb is true, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you do have an opportunity to make up some of what you lost in your bad job interview.
Was It as Bad as You Thought?
First of all, let’s make sure it really was a bad interview. Often, people are their own worst critics, and this is by and large a good thing. But when it comes to a job interview, you might be seeing things that weren’t actually there, or, at least, that weren’t nearly as bad as you perceived them to be. Give yourself some time. Take a walk, and clear your head. Try to put the interview into perspective. Obviously, things like arriving late are indeed negatives that will count against you, but others are less clear cut. Did you really stutter your way through the most important questions, or are you remembering it to be worse than it was? Were you really caught flat-footed by one of the interviewer’s questions? If you were, did it show? Did you fail to impress your interviewer with your knowledge of the company? Are there several things that were on the tip of your tongue that you were never able to express? Answer these questions, and you’ll be able to tell yourself whether the interview was as bad as you first thought.
Is The Job Really for You?
Even if you’ve had a bad job interview, it might be a blessing in disguise. Did you feel like you weren’t able to connect with the interviewer? Did you feel out of place in the office? Were the questions exceedingly simple and not a challenge to you? Or were they largely over your head?
If you feel you’ve had a bad job interview, you need to ask yourself whether it’s a symptom of you being ill-suited for the job in the first place. Sometimes job interviews convince the perspective employee that they wouldn’t be right for the job, rather than the other way around, and there’s no shame in that. If you think this might have been the case, don’t be afraid to tell the employer so. Thank them for their time, and tell them that, based on the interview, you don’t believe you’d be a good fit for the job at the present time, and explain why. This will let the employer know where they stand and allow them to correct the record if you misunderstood something in the interview.
It Was a Bad Interview, and You Want the Job. Now What?
If you’ve carefully considered what occurred in the interview, and you’ve come to the conclusion that you did indeed perform badly, and further, that you’re still very interested in the job, it’s time to go to work. The first thing to do is to analyze what went wrong.
Ideally, you would have recorded the interview, so you can go back and check your responses to each question. If you don’t have the luxury of a recording, you’ll have to do your best to remember, with the aid of any notes you took. Go back over the questions you answered, and write down all the things you wish you’d said in response to each question. For example, if you were asked to describe one project where you took charge and completed the work in a unique or outstanding way, and you weren’t able to remember the specifics, take the time to write down everything you can remember, now that you’re not under the gun. Go back through your records and come up with stats to back up your answers. If you feel you need third-party materials, such as a note from your old boss talking about that particular project and what they thought of your work, don’t hesitate to ask for them.
Once you’ve got everything assembled, it’s time to write a thank you/recovery note. This is a way to follow up your bad job interview with concrete examples to back up your less than stellar answers to the interview questions. If the interviewer was otherwise impressed with you but was under whelmed by your answers to a few of the questions, this is your chance to set the record straight and take back the initiative. Put together a concise, hard-hitting letter, using verifiable facts to back up your case wherever you can. When your prospective employer receives the letter, they will know, even if you didn’t show it in the interview, that you very much want the job and further, that you’re uniquely qualified for it.
There are any number of reasons why you can have a bad job interview. Often, it’s not as bad as you thought, and equally often, the interview gives you additional information that convinces you that the job isn’t for you after all. But if you have a bad job interview for a job you really want, writing a timely, fact-filled and enthusiastic recovery letter can show the employer yet again that you are the best person for the job.
Copyright, Cecile Peterkin. All Rights Reserved.