Have you ever left a job interview feeling utterly deflated? So much anticipation and excitement… and in some unfortunate cases, the overwhelming desire of landing the job to free you from your current situation. It’s heartbreaking to walk away in a daze wondering what happened. But wait, take a moment to pause and think about the interview. There is absolutely a silver lining!
Firstly, pat yourself on your back for landing the interview. You just beat out how many other candidates to have an opportunity to discuss your skills and achievements? Now let’s focus on the silver lining. Quite simply, how often are you placed in a career situation that you can learn so much from?
Items you can focus on and learn from:
- What questions did they ask you that you stumbled on?
- Were they behavioral or traditional interview questions?
- Why did you stumble on them?
- Were you prepared for those questions?
- Were you focusing on the body language of the interviewer and lost track?
- Did you suddenly feel like you were taking too long and started ‘babbling?’
- Did you lose interest in the position/company?
- Environmental issues?
- Was there something that was out of your control that may you uneasy?
The great thing about your experience is that you had a great opportunity to practice your interviewing skills. It’s unfortunately very unnatural for many of us to talk about ourselves in such a manner and discuss our skills/achievements. Any chance you can practice this learned skill is always a win.
You may also realize that the interview was possibly not so much how you answered the questions but more how the interviewer asked them. Not having insider information into the company and why they chose you over other candidates to interview, you may find that occasionally the interview was over before it even started. Maybe the interviewer had interviewed a few people already and had already selected the person they wanted, or maybe they were just having a bad day and essentially made your life harder because of their mood. Even if the interview was out of your hands before it even started you can still learn from the interview and possibly apply your learnings in future interviews.
How can you make the best of the situation if it comes up again – could you use humor or different language – a shorter or more concise answer?
How did your body language change based on the interviewer? If you find yourself in a similar position could you try and overcome your discomfort and stay confident?
Lastly, remember you’re not alone. If you ask around you may find that many of your acquaintances have been in a similar situation. I too have a scar from what I dub ‘the worst interview experience ever’ which included the interview starting over 15 minutes late because my panel of interviewers ran over on another interview and then they were not informed that I was waiting in the lobby – talk about unnerving. I found myself in an awkward elevator ride and about a 10 minute interview before their next interview. Sadly within the 10 minutes of my interview I discovered that the position did not match the job description and I was no longer as excited about the opportunity! Talk about a great interview to learn from!
Many of you may wonder what you can do to try and fix the interview and your image to the interviewers and it’s simple. Firstly, reflect on the interview and remember that you are your worst critic…it may not have gone as bad as you think! Think about what items you may have flubbed through or didn’t explain well enough and when you write your thank you note, include a little extra information on that topic. Possibly try the brutally honest tactic and say – “I realize after our interview that I did not efficiently explain X,” and then explain as short and precisely as possible. My thoughts are, if the interview did go poorly, what do you have to lose by attempting to re-patch a few areas. I do not recommend attempting to explain more than one or two questions though – the interviewer does not need to read an essay!
My final thoughts are simple – don’t beat yourself up and remember that you are your worst critic. Take what you can from any interview and reflect on what you did well and what you can do better. Interviewing is not a natural talent for many and remember, the interviewer is human too – they most likely have similar stories to tell!