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Avoiding Interview Disaster: When the interview isn’t going well


Some interviews just don't go well. You can scream or you can try to make the best of what's left. Here's how.

Some interviews just don’t go well. You can scream or you can try to make the best of what’s left. Here’s how.

This may be the most uncomfortable interviewing situation of all. You’ve begun the interview, and it just isn’t going anywhere. You and the interviewer aren’t connecting. Maybe you’re more nervous than you thought you’d be. Maybe the interviewer is inexperienced, insecure, or something else entirely. You might not be able to put your finger on what’s wrong, but it just doesn’t feel right. Here are a few things to try.

Inexperienced Interviewers
Many interviewers are untrained and hate interviewing as much as or more than candidates do. Some respond by talking too much and  others by asking impossible or irrelevant questions to bolster their feelings of insecurity.

Sometimes, it helps if the candidate delicately takes control of the interview by answering questions that haven’t been asked. You could say, for example, “Perhaps it would help if I told you a bit about my background,” and then give them the answer to the “Tell us about yourself” question they should have asked.

You can also try asking questions about the company and job that will give you insight and perhaps an opportunity to share information about your skills.

Mystery Questions
Unfortunately, there are times you will be asked a question that makes no sense to you. It could be an oddball question some employers use to catch a candidate off guard. Read more about this type of interview.

Maybe it is a question related to your field but highly technical or specialized. Some employers want to view how a candidate operates under pressure and ask unanswerable questions to judge your reaction. The best thing to do under these circumstances is to allow your process to be transparent.

You can ask for the question to be repeated. Ask for it to be explained. Ask for an example. If you still don’t understand, you might try admitting it and ask about the motivation behind the question or the importance of the information. Treat the conversation like a collaboration between you and the interviewers to get to the information they need. Even if you never come up with an answer, the interviewer will see HOW you go about looking for an answer, and sometimes that is exactly what they want to know.

 Post-interview Blues

If an interview went badly, there are a few things you can do to salvage the experience. First of all, use your thank-you note to mention the things you didn’t have a chance to emphasize in the interview. You can attempt to draw their attention to your stronger traits and skills. You caught their attention enough to land an interview. Maybe the competition wasn’t any stronger. You could still have a chance. Even if they offer the job to someone else, the fit might not be a good one. Follow up in a few weeks to express your continued interest.

Second, learn from it. Analyze what went wrong and improve those parts of your preparation for the next interview.

Finally, forgive yourself and move on. So, you blew an interview. It undoubtedly wasn’t your first mistake, and believe me, it won’t be your last. If you’re taking away a valuable lesson, then it wasn’t a total loss. Think back over past misfortunes. Usually, they turn out for the best. A better job comes along, a better house comes on the market, the lost relationships makes way for a better one. If you haven’t reached the happy part, the story isn’t over.

If your interview experience has been uncomfortable or just plain disastrous, contact me to talk about some ways to be more confident about your side of the interview conversation. I offer Interview Preparation coaching that teaches you how to anticipate and answer the very questions you’re worrying about – all without memorizing answers!


Avoiding Interview Disaster: The question behind the question

Avoiding Interview Disaster: 5 steps to prepare for the question you dread

Avoiding Interview Disaster: What to do when the interview falls apart before it starts


Photo credit: bark

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