How to Turn a Bad Interview Around

Young female candidate laughing at job interview

When you head in for an interview, it’s normal to be both excited and nervous. However, if things start to go south, those nerves may shift into outright fear. Additionally, you might assume defeat before the interview even draws to a close because of your misstep.

While it may be tempting to simply give up, don’t. It is possible to turn a bad interview around, allowing you to recover from a misstep and reposition yourself as a great candidate. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips that can help.

Don’t Make Excuses

If you make a mistake during an interview, your first instinct might be to try and explain it away. It’s tempting to tell the interviewer that you’re nervous, and that’s why you made a misstep. However, if you do, you could be making the situation worse.

By bringing up your nerves, you’re drawing attention to your lack of poise. Additionally, the interviewer may assume that you’re trying to give them an excuse instead of attempting to fix the problem, and that won’t help your case.

Instead, remain calm and professional. Also, work to focus on the positive as you move forward. If you use that approach, a single, small misstep might get overlooked.

Pause and Rephrase

Sometimes, when you’re faced with an unexpected question, you provide an answer that’s less than ideal. Maybe you came across as negative, harming the tone of the meeting. Possibly, you stumbled through your response, causing it to be a bit disjointed.

If the interview went south because of a subpar answer, you might be able to recover if you act quickly. Tell the hiring manager that you’d like to clarify your initial response. Next, pause for a second and collect your thoughts. Then, rephrase your answer, focusing on maintaining the right tone and properly articulating your point. That may be enough to overcome the initial mistake, allowing you to move forward confidently.

Pivot When You Don’t Know

During an interview, you may be asked about a topic you’re unfamiliar with or where you only have limited experience. If that’s the case, it’s okay to admit that it’s not your strongest area. However, don’t leave it at that.

Instead, pivot quickly. For example, if you’re asked how you would tackle a task but don’t know what you’d need to do, discuss how you would figure it out. That allows you to focus on your diligence, problem-solving, and research skills and prevents you from ending on a negative note. You can also highlight your willingness to learn, an approach that can also work in your favor.

Learn from the Experience

If you do your best to turn a bad interview around and it doesn’t seem to pan out, treat it as a learning experience. Reflect on what went wrong as well as what went right. Then use that information to develop a strategy for improving your performance during your next interview. Ultimately, every meeting is a chance to hone your interviewing skills, so don’t let the learning opportunity pass you by.

If you’d like to learn more about successful interviewing, the team at GSG Talent Solutions wants to hear from you. Contact us today.


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