We’ve all had bad interviews. Or at least ones where we remember things we could have said or done better. And while I am not here to give you false hope, the good news is a bad interview doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get the job.
Why is that you ask? Good question.
First, you are the worst judge of how you actually did. Or what they’re looking for. Now sometimes you can get a pretty good idea of how you did, based on how they’re treating you or responding / not responding to you while you’re in the room.
But a lot of the time you’re focusing on the small picture (perhaps an individual answer), while they’re looking at you in the larger sense of whether you might fit in well. And so any one answer or awkwardness or nerves that you can’t control or whatever else you think was “bad” might not be enough for them to eliminate you.
Clues of a truly bad interview
- You waited a long time for the last person to finish their interview, which seemed to go on and on. And yet your interview was only about 5 or 10 minutes.
- EXCEPTION: This was just a screening interview and they saw enough to call you back. Is that common? No. But possible, so remember to follow up anyway.
- The interviewer never looks at you and / or looks at their watch or mobile phone a lot.
- EXCEPTION: Possibly the same exception as before. But also maybe a wakeup call for you to rev up your interview style and answers.
- Whatever your answer is, the interviewer finds fault and lets you know. Or they just seem really uninterested, like they’re going through the motions.
- EXCEPTION: Again, for whatever reason this may just be step one of their process. Not a great sign for sure, but could just be their style. Or what they ate for lunch.
- Your interviewer actually tells you that you aren’t what they’re looking for giving any number of reasons.
- EXCEPTION: Obviously a bad sign. But I have in my own career managed to get a job even after being told that. Not saying you can always do that, but not a closed door if you can find a way to still make your case for the match. (That link has a true story where I did just that.)
Anything else you can do?
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Hopefully you’ve done your research, practiced answering questions, and are bringing your best self to the interview. Here are a few posts to help with that. And remember that you can still shift the energy in an interview, even if it seems to be heading south.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
So, it’s not over yet. Yes, if the interview didn’t feel good, that may be the best you can do and time to move on. But as I said, we often are not the best judge of our own performance … or what’s going on in the mind of the interviewer.
While you don’t want to bug them relentlessly, if you do have anything to add — or just want to give it one more try — by all means use a thank you letter to try to re-open the door.
Some posts that may give you ideas:
More posts to help