What to Do When a Job Interview Goes Badly
Have you ever left a job interview feeling like you blew it? Most likely, you did, and you responded to it by berating yourself and squandering the opportunity. However, walking away from a job or an employer with a bad attitude would not help anyone.
Inadequate interviews preparation can lead to emotions of inadequacy, embarrassment, irritation, and even melancholy. Even if you put a lot of effort into preparing for an interview, things can go wrong. Perhaps you awoke with a throbbing headache or can’t seem to get your mind off a serious personal issue. Whatever the case may be, circumstances may cause you to lose your “A” game, resulting in a poor interview performance.
A ‘bad interview’ can mean several things: the candidate believes he or she fumbled on the majority of the questions; he or she did not thoroughly prepare for the interview; you dressed inadequately; said something offensive; you were late; or you were distracted during the interview by a personal issue, such as a family death or a break-up, among other things.
Signs an Interview Went Wrong
- You notice the interviewer’s poor body language
Observing the hiring manager’s or interviewer’s body language is one of the quickest ways to determine whether or not an interview is going well. After you start talking, the interviewer may begin to reveal body language indicators (both good and bad) within the first few questions and responses.
So, as far as you can tell, do they appear interested and engaged? Or do they appear to be drowsy and tired?
Of all, each interviewer has their own personality and body language, and you’ve likely never met this person before, so don’t put too much faith in this one indicator. If an interviewer appears to have poor body language, it could simply be a reflection of their personality or habits.
- The interview was cut short abruptly
If an interview is cut short and doesn’t proceed for the whole time given, it’s usually a poor indicator unless there was an emergency and the interviewer explained the issue.
Initial phone or video interviews are sometimes brief, but I would expect them to span at least 25-30 minutes. If the interview ended in an abrupt manner or quicker than expected, it’s a hint that the interview didn’t go well.
- Speaking with fewer people than expected
If an interview is going badly and you have appointments with numerous corporate employees that day, the first person you speak with may opt to send you home to spare everyone else’s time.
This is a rare occurrence, but it does occur, and it’s one of the most telling signals that your interview went poorly.
However, don’t get too worked up…
It all comes down to how many individuals you didn’t get to meet and how effectively they explained why.
Meeting five people and only interviewing with four isn’t always indicative of a negative interview, especially if they give you a reason (like the person being sick, traveling, or tied up in another meeting).
- The recruiting manager withheld a lot of information about the job
When an interview is progressing well, the interviewer will make an effort to sell you on the job’s interesting aspects, such as what you’ll get to do and learn.
If they’re really interested in you, they’ll try to sell their work to you, similar to how you’re attempting to market yourself to them. If your employer doesn’t tell you anything about the job or what you’ll be doing in it, it’s a hint that either:
- The interviewer lacks experience, isn’t very competent, is apprehensive, and so forth.
- Your interview did not go well.
However, you should judge this sign based on who you spoke with. If you had a low-level HR interview you, they may have only been there to go over the essentials with you (like going over your resume). The hiring manager will then go over the role in further detail in the next interview.
However, if you visited with the hiring manager in person and they didn’t tell you anything about the company or what you’d be doing in this position, that’s a red flag.
- The interviewer made no attempt to market their company to get you to work for them
An interested employer will likely want to give fascinating insights about what their organization is doing in general, in addition to selling you on the position.
This can contain things like business culture, team outings/events, the organization’s triumphs, and intriguing new projects, among other things.
Employers disclose this information in order to activate your interest in the position so you’ll be more likely to accept an offer.
If this didn’t happen, it could be a warning indication.
- Your future prospects at the company were not discussed much by the interviewer
If a hiring manager is genuinely enthusiastic about you, they’ll go out of their way to discuss your future prospects once you start the job. They want to present you in a positive light during your time with them. They may outline potential career options for you within the organization, what other individuals have done after working in the role you’re considering, and so on.
- You didn’t strike up a conversation or form a bond with the interviewer
In the interview process, different interviewers and hiring managers have varied styles. Some may crack jokes with you and ask informal interview questions, while others are dead serious.
If, on the other hand, the interviewer was silent and solemn yet took the time to ask you some personal questions and get to know you as a person, it’s possible that their job interview style is to keep the dialogue dry and professional.
- The interviewer didn’t ask you many questions about your qualifications or experience
Some of the initial questions in an interview are designed to assess your motive for looking for work, your personality, and so on. However, an interviewer would most likely want to learn more about your past, current duties, and so on
- Note whether the interviewer took their time taking you out and ending the interview
If they took their time, it’s usually a good sign that the interview went well.
Unfortunately, if they hurried you out or looked preoccupied with their next task (whatever it was they intended to do once you were gone), it’s a clue that the interview went badly for part or all of it.
What to do when an interview goes bad
- After a bad interview, give yourself some time.
You may feel frustrated and upset after a disappointing interview. Take some time to reflect on the event (whether it’s 10 minutes or an hour), but don’t do so for too long. It’s easy to get caught up in the spiral and believe the interview went much worse than it did. First and foremost, I’m sure your mind is racing with concerns about where you think you went wrong. While it may not seem like the most enticing chore right now, try to write an honest assessment of how you believe the interview went while it’s still fresh in your mind — the good and the terrible, from start to finish. This will allow you to empty your mind of all of your ideas and feelings regarding the interview, allowing you to focus your thoughts and recall the details more clearly. It’s critical to figure out what went well first so you can approach the unfavorable things with a less dejected mindset. Identify exactly what went wrong if you have a negative feeling about how things turned out.
- What were your blunders?
It will be easy to determine the faults you made throughout the interview now that you have written everything down. Try to be as truthful as possible when answering this question. Did you, for example, neglect to write down questions to ask at the end of the meeting? Did one of your replies ramble a little too much? Did you make a remark about your previous workplace that was unintentionally negative?
Consider why you believe you committed these errors as well. For example, because you were worried about the questions they might ask you, you may have forgotten to prepare questions for the interviewer. Alternatively, you may have said something nasty about your previous employer because you were caught off guard by a question about why you want to quit your present job. Whatever it was, figure out how the errors occurred so you can avoid them in the future.
- Could the interviewer have been a little friendlier?
It’s critical to distinguish between your errors and what the interviewer could have done better — after all, they are only human. Your interviewer may have come across as unfriendly unintentionally, for example, by asking you questions in rapid succession without smiling or commenting on your responses. Maybe their body language was tense, making you nervous and causing you to lose attention. While it isn’t ideal, you may encounter less-than-ideal interviewers in the future. As a result, it’s vital to learn how to cope with these types of interviewers and avoid becoming agitated at the moment. Now that you have a better understanding of the interview, I recommend calling your recruiter. They’ll be waiting for your call to find out how the interview went, and you should contact them back the same day.
- Provide your recruiter with fair and professional feedback
It’s important to tell your recruiter right away if you don’t think the interview went as well as it could have. When giving feedback on how you think you performed in the interview, it’s critical, to be honest, but also to avoid being overly harsh in your wording or crossing the line from self-awareness to self-deprecation. Make a point of highlighting the lessons you’ve learned. For instance, rather than saying:
“I completely botched one of my responses. “I just rambled and mumbled rubbish because I wasn’t expecting the question.”
You could say anything along the lines of:
“One of the interview questions surprised me. I rambled a little because I’d never been asked this in an interview before. Next time, I’ll take a few deep breaths and perhaps request a few seconds to consider my response.”
- Take your recruiter’s advice into consideration
Listen to what the recruiter has to say once you’ve given them your feedback. They’ll be able to provide you with some recommendations based on their expertise teaching applicants for interview scenarios and obtaining feedback from their clients.
Because the recruiter may have received feedback from their client, it’s critical that you pay attention. Don’t be alarmed if the recruiter caught up on some of your mistakes, including some you weren’t aware of. Tell the recruiter why you believe you made them and how you plan to avoid them in the future. This demonstrates self-awareness and honesty, both of which are desirable qualities. Don’t forget to pay attention to positive remarks as well, and don’t be too hard on yourself. The interviewer does not expect you to be flawless, and your positive qualities may have overshadowed a number of little gaffes.
- Maintain your composure and continue your employment search.
The limbo phase begins now, between receiving interview feedback and learning about the following steps. This can be a very hard period for you emotionally, so stay calm and cheerful while avoiding certain dangers.
To begin, avoid contacting the interviewer directly or connecting on social media, as this can be seen as intrusive and presumptuous. Instead, use your recruiter to send a thank-you note to the interviewer. Don’t go into too much detail about where you went wrong or apologize too much in this note. Simply express your interest in the position and express gratitude for the interviewer’s time. The rest is up to the recruiter.
Next, don’t give up your job hunt while you’re waiting for a response. Please, after the interview, take some time to recharge. Interviews, after all, may be exhausting. Relax, spend time with family and friends who can help you get back on your feet, and then get ready to resume your job search.
A failed interview shouldn’t make you doubt yourself. In the best-case scenario, the interviewer will be understanding and see that your overall strong qualities exceed your less-than-stellar interview performance. Even if you don’t get the job, you can use the experience to improve your interviewing style for the future. As long as you recall what you still have to give an employer and take everything you can from this scenario, your interview performance will undoubtedly improve from here.