Haven’t been on a bad interview? Imagine this…
After weeks of positioning yourself to a potential employer, your big day for the interview is finally here. You don your best power suit, bring along a copy of your resume, and show up at the interview 10 minutes early.
You think you’re doing pretty well.
That is until you meet the interviewer.
Then things take a turn for the worse.
The person on the other side of the table doesn’t even bother to glance at your credentials. He or she uses the same canned (annoying) interview questions (e.g. tell me about yourself), leaving you to do most of the talking. Then, without giving you a chance to ask anything or highlight your true worth, the recruiter ushers you out the door.
You have no idea what to expect next, but you are certain you did not get the job.
I’ve heard the horror stories of many job seekers who have experienced a bad interview that makes the above scenario seem like a good one.
Stories of interviews gone wrong are rampant from job seekers who have been treated with disrespect, asked illegal questions, and even harassed by a hiring manager. And then there are the tales of flat tires, accidents, suddenly sick kids and no babysitter, and a whole host of other unexpected events that have occurred on interview days.
Hey, everybody faces a bad interview experience once in a while. It’s probably not your fault.
There are people who are skilled at interviewing and others who just plain stink at it. Many treat interviews as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants exercises in futility without hiring an interview coach to help with mock interview prep. Interviewing is not rocket science, but people somehow manage to muck it up in creative ways.
Bad interviews can be interviewer-sided too.
When interviews are so one-sided, you wonder why you bothered to show up at all. A client writes:
“In a recent interview, I nearly fell asleep. The interviewer went on and on about the company, the position, and the overall goals of the department. I think he spoke one long sentence that took 20 minutes to finish … and I don’t believe he took one breath during that time. When I left his office, I thought I was a shoe-in because if the company would hire him, they would surely hire me. It’s been three weeks, and I haven’t heard a thing.”
As the one in the hot seat, it can be easy to forget that you may not be the only nervous one in the room. The person sitting across from you may be experiencing the jitters too. This could be the reason for the incessant talking that ends up sounding more like a sales pitch for the company than an opportunity to learn about you. Or perhaps you are dealing
with an unpolished interviewer who isn’t experienced with asking appropriate questions or follow-up questions to clarify and expand your answers. It’s also possible that the interview is lopsided by design to determine how you would handle yourself [editorial note: we also see this when weird interview questions are introduced as well]
So, how do you navigate the monologue interview?
Was the interview for a management position?
If so, the interview would have been a great time for you to display your skills, by taking an ineffective situation and turning it around. Conversations can become monopolized; and even though the interviewer should have recognized that was happening, it’s also your responsibility to step in with a few preselected questions or comments as well.
The next time you are faced with this situation, use the opportunity to test your assertiveness skills by politely jumping in and conveying why you are a good match for the position. Maybe the only opportunity will come at the end of
Maybe the only opportunity will come at the end of the interview, but don’t leave the room without sharing some key points about your accomplishments and experience. It may or may not throw the interviewer to have their usual pattern disrupted, but at least you will know you showed up for a reason and gave it your best shot.
If you’ve had a bad interview experience, what can you do to save yourself?
First, stop torturing yourself.
Humans have a tendency to be their own worst enemies. After a bad experience, very often job seekers will relive the moment over and over in their minds, continuing to try to figure out what they did wrong and how they could have done something better.
They begin to beat themselves up emotionally.
This leads to anxiety.
It’s bad enough to not have a job right now, but you do not also have to add to your misery by torturing yourself over this event. Just laugh it off, think logically, and take the next step…before you lose your nerve.
Try this brief meditative exercise to clear your mind of this less than favorable interview experience, from Tiny Buddha. You will clear your mind and your body of any anxiety in a short period of time. You can also try getting away for the day, do something that you enjoy in the outdoors, or spend some time with a friend over lunch.
Write a thank you note, now.
Right now you think to yourself, why should I bother to write a thank you note when I probably didn’t get the job?
But this is erroneous and negative thinking. While you think you did a terrible job or that the interview went badly, the perception from the recruiter side might be entirely different.
The recruiter may have remained stoic or not been as friendly because he or she wanted to test you to see if you were able to overcome these challenges. While it does seem kind of counterproductive, it is a common practice to use a ‘poker face’ in recruitment.
Stop what you’re doing and grab a professional thank you note and write a heartfelt thank you to the recruiter.
Drop it in the mail today before you change your mind. This will make a positive impression on the recruiter who will remember you for being professional and less likely to you to remember you for anything negative that may have occurred.
Plus it will make you feel better to express gratitude.
Ask for a re-do.
Sometimes an interview can go very bad because of something out of our control. For example, if you had a car accident on the way to the interview or if you got lost and arrived extremely late, it is still possible to redeem yourself by directly asking the recruiter if they would consider giving you a second interview.
Recruiters are human beings too and despite your misgivings, now would be a very good time to ask the recruiter by phone if you could come in for a redo interview. This will give you a chance to explain yourself and hopefully, the recruiter will understand and give you a second chance.
An example of what you can say might go something like this:
You: Hello, my name is ____ and I was in yesterday for an interview with your recruiter [name]. Something unexpected occurred just before I arrived, making me late. If you are still interviewing for the position ____, would it be possible to squeeze me in for another interview? I believe I have the right skills your company is looking for, but with what happened I was not able to demonstrate this.
If they say “Yes,” don’t mess it up because this could be your only chance at that job. Prepare yourself for the interview by going over your resume with a professional resume writer and career coach. Make sure you have everything ready and get there early with your game face on.
Chalk it up as practice.
Any interview, whether bad or good, should be chalked up as experience. As you get out there and meet with employers you will find that how they handle interviews can be vastly different. Sometimes, interviews are just kind of willy-nilly unorganized aspects of a business. Other times, they are very structured and strict. Each company is different and therefore you will never find a perfect interview experience.
What you can take away from each interview or additional skills that you can use for future interviews, might be: making good eye contact and using positive body language. This can also be a way to pinpoint any issues that you may have on your resume. If the recruiter had a difficult time understanding something in your career history, this could be a red flag that the resume needs some improvement. Make sure to attend to these issues before you head into the next job interview so that you can have a much more positive experience and hopefully, and a great new job.