We’ve all been there. You’re in the middle of a job interview when you do or say something foolish. At the moment, it feels like you’ve messed up your only chance of landing the job. The truth is hiring managers don’t expect perfection, so if you’re fast on your feet, there’s a chance you can recover. Here are some tips on how to recover if you botch an interview.

Showing up Late

One of the worst mistakes you can make in an interview is arriving late. Even though it’s a critical mistake this isn’t a reason to lose hope. There are several things you can do to recover. If you notice you’re running late, the best thing you can do is to call ahead so you can notify the manager you won’t be on time. Afterwards, explain why you were late and apologize. Accept responsibility for being late. Don’t blame anyone or anything else as this displays your character (even though you ARE late). It’s also a good idea to include an apology after the interview when you send a thank you card. Hiring managers understand that everyone runs late from time to time, especially since traffic and weather are out of our control. If you take responsibility and apologize, it shows you are accountable.



Nerves Get in the Way of Performance

Most people feel nervous when they’re on an interview. It is a natural response to a stressful situation. Sometimes, the nerves get the best of you. You might start talking too fast, or maybe you start rambling. Maybe the manager asks you a question you weren’t expecting and you’re too nervous to respond. You can recover from this. If your mind goes blank, take a deep breath and tell the manager you need a moment to regroup. Most hiring managers will understand. Taking a short break is better than going off on a tangent and speaking out of anxiety. It shows you are thoughtful before rapidly responding and hiring managers usually appreciate that.


You Don’t Come Prepared with Questions to Ask

While it is always better to come prepared with questions to ask the hiring manager, if you do find yourself in a situation where you have nothing to ask them, it isn’t the end of the world. If you’re new to interviewing, it might seem like they ask you if you have questions to be polite, but the manager is actually trying to assess how interested you are in the position and get to know you more at the same time. They want you to ask them detailed questions that showcase your knowledge in the company and prove you’ve done your research. If you don’t have questions prepared, you can just ask a generic question. Think about what was discussed during the interview. Some part of the conversation likely left you wanting more information. After you leave your interview, it is customary to send a thank you note to the hiring manager. You can include a more detailed question in the note that will show that you are attentive and engaged in the process.


If you make a mistake during an interview, don’t panic. Most hiring managers have interview experience and have come to expect some blunders. If you can recover from your mistakes gracefully, you will show the manager that you can handle yourself under pressure and you demonstrate resiliency.


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