If you stumble early on in an interview, fear not! These three easy tips can come to your rescue and make a good impression before you go off the rails.
It happens to even the best job candidates. You start off developing a rapport with the interviewer, and suddenly your foot is in your mouth and the room is crashing down on you. You’re having a bad interview. It’s not the end of the world, but it can feel like it sometimes.
The solution involves better preparation for tough questions; doing research on the company; and having your own questions in mind before the interview begins. Those are all great ideas for your next interview, but they won’t help you if you get stuck during an interview.
If you haven’t gone too far off the rails, here are a few things you can do immediately that might salvage the rest of the interview.
Stop: Try again. You may find yourself trying to give a coherent answer while anticipating the next two questions in your head. The result is often a rambling stream of gibberish that elicits a furrowed brow on the face of your confused interviewer. If you see this happening, just stop, mid-sentence, and say something like, “Wait, let me try to rephrase that.” Take a deep breath, collect your thoughts and try to get back on track.
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Bonus tip: Take your time answering. Any pause of more than a second may feel like an eternity, but it will seem natural to the interviewer.
Engage: Ask questions. If you notice the hiring manager losing focus halfway through, it’s time for you to take action before you are tuned out altogether. Start asking open-ended questions, such as, “What was it like to work here when you first started?” or “Can you tell me a bit more about what a typical work day is like?” This shows that you’re not afraid to take the initiative, and it also involves the interviewer more personally.
Bonus tip: Most people like talking about themselves. Try to turn the interview into a two-way conversation.
Forgive: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Inevitably, there will be awkward moments in some interviews — you might say the wrong name, give an uncomfortable handshake, stammer your way through an answer or even knock something over by accident. Odds are the interviewer hasn’t even noticed them. This is a good time to take singer Taylor Swift’s advice and just “shake it off.”
Bonus tip: The hiring manager cares less about misstatements you make than the manner in which you take responsibility for them and correct your mistakes.