Horror stories: How to Recover from Interview Mistakes
Interview failures donít have to be fatal. If you make one of these errors, hereís how to bounce back.
You walk into the interview room, shake hands and make eye contact. Everything is going as expected until you sit down and knock coffee all over the table. What do you do?
Donít panic. Even the most prepared person can have something unexpected go wrong in an interview setting. But before you write off the experience, you can recover from a mistake and sometimes even help your chances. Here are tips to react when something goes wrong.
You get a curveball question
It goes without saying you should come prepared to answer common interview questions
, everything from your strengths and weaknesses to why you left your last job. But be ready for the real possibility that you wonít be able to answer something, either because you donít factually know or you never considered the perspective. This is becoming increasingly common in our dynamic workplace. In those cases, donít try to fake your way through an answer. Instead, tell the interviewer that this is one of those topics that you don't have a lot of experience within your current role. But donít leave it there: Then share an example of how when confronted with a new issue, you took steps to solve the problem. Explain the process to you went through to demonstrate your learnability in response to changing circumstances.
Youíre not sure what to say
Thereís a scene in Friends when Ross doesnít know how to answer a question, and his internal monologue keeps telling him to say something, anything. ďThis is the longest anyone has gone without talking,Ē he tells himself. In actuality, it just feels that way inside your head. Itís OK to use silence. Take a deep breath, think, and then respond. Youíre showing thoughtfulness.
You arrive late (or some other seemingly disqualifying action)
Maybe you mixed up the time and arrived late. Maybe the interviewer points out an embarrassing typo on your resume. Maybe you blurt out an answer you know is the wrong thing to say
. There are some mistakes that seem like they could be automatic disqualifiers. But if confronted with this situation, approach it with an attitude that now you have nothing to lose. Acknowledge your mistake, but donít let it define you. This may even loosen you up and allow you to approach the rest of the interview with confidence.
Ultimately, there are few mistakes you canít come back from. Weíre all human, and interviewers know that. Remember that moment of spilling coffee all over the table? That can actually make people like you more. The Pratfall Effect is a psychological phenomenon meaning that we like people who slip up every once in awhile, and show they arenít perfect. The key is this works when people perceive you as all around competent. So if you make a mistake, itís not the end of the world. If you recover well, it may actually help you in the long run.