How can you recover if you horribly blow an interview?

Whether it was an inappropriate joke, some misinformation, some out of place gossip you wish you could take back, or your mind just went blank at the worst possible moment, here are some strategies to help you recover and save face.

After months of looking, you finally landed an interview! Maybe you found a way to break into working in healthcare, or you are interviewing for your first management job, and you want it so badly you work yourself into a state that might not be ideal for an interview. Everyone reacts to nerves differently, and for some, being nervous can lead to some major “foot in mouth” moments. Sometimes the worst case scenario happens in an interview, and you say something embarrassing. Whether it was an inappropriate joke, some misinformation, some out of place gossip you wish you could take back, or your mind just went blank at the worst possible moment, here are some strategies to help you recover and save face.

 

Stop, take a deep breath, admit what you just said was incorrect or inappropriate and apologize. Be as professional as you can, and be honest – if your nerves got the better of you, admit it. Own up to it, make it clear you don’t normally behave or speak that way, and move on.

Make it into a joke at your own expense. Turn the awkward moment into a humorous one and make sure to laugh (as naturally as possible). If your interviewer laughs too, the ice might be broken. Again, apologize if it was out of line, state that it was unacceptable, and the mood should hopefully lighten up after the slip.

If you freeze after being asked a question related to the job – maybe you blank on a technical term, or find yourself unable to answer something that you normally can speak of without difficulty, use the opportunity for a follow up email later. Admit exactly what happened, be confident, direct, and honest, and clarify your thoughts on the issue. If you said something completely incorrect, admit that you know it was not the right answer, apologize and retract, and admit that your nerves got the better of you.

Admitting a weakness may seem counter-intuitive in an interview scenario, but an important thing to remember is that people are looking for humans who will be their colleagues, and perfectly rehearsed answers may not help you at times, as there is always a chance that the interviewer will view a perfect answer as a cliche and disregard it. Being honest can help you. If your weakness has been inadvertently revealed, admitting it, letting them know you are working on it, and possibly even asking the interviewer if they have known others who have overcame similar issues could work to your advantage. No one is perfect, and showing that you are accountable for your own actions could ultimately work in your favor.

Even if the job opportunity has been lost by a misstep, a graceful recovery might allow you to network and be kept in mind for future opportunities. If you do mess up an interview, the most important thing is to gauge the interviewer’s reaction and respond in a fitting way. Reading the interviewer is one of the most important parts of an interview, so be sure to watch their face and body language to ensure you pick the best recovery tactic for the interview you have found yourself in.

Have you ever botched an interview? Did you manage to recover? Let us know in the comments!

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