Recovering From An Interview Mistake

If you’ve worked with a recruitment firm, you may have had the fortune of landing an interview, which could have been followed by making a horrifyingly bad interview mistake.  This doesn’t have to become that embarrassing story you later tell your friends. Instead, why not prepare yourself for the worst of mistakes (really!) by learning how to bounce back from a less than ideal moment.

Here are some tips and real-life situations that can prepare you for coming back from an interview fumble.

You Make the Mistake by…

  • Giving a really, really bad answer to a question.
  • Arriving to the interview late.
  • Accidentally sending in the wrong resume.
  • Mixing up your appointments and missing the interview.

Mortifying, right? However, in all these mistakes, the best method of minimizing the damage can be summarized and easily remembered by a short and somewhat whimsical rhyme: face it, embrace it, erase it.

Face It

The very first step to take after you’ve realized your blunder is to recover in the moment. Immediately address the mistake and apologize for it. This approach will vary depending on what mistake you’ve made. For instance, if there are a range of positions you’re applying for, and you sent the wrong resume, simply send an apology email stating that the previous email was not the best, most relevant one for the role, and attach the resume tailored for that specific job listing.

Embrace It

However, if you make a mistake such as missteping on an interview question or mixing up your appointments, it’s essential that you appropriately face your blunder head on. For example, if you’ve just given a nonsensical answer, you can simply ask, “Can I rephrase that?” to provide further clarification. If you’re somewhere else at the exact moment of your interview, or worse, slept through it, call immediately to apologize. Though this is a particularly sticky situation, since you’ve essentially stood your interviewer up, remember, as the saying goes, “it ain’t over till it’s over.” Call the hiring manager to convey your genuine regrets about the mix up, and ask if you can reschedule, or accommodate their schedule (you are, after all, the one who is in the wrong).

Erase It

After addressing the error, you can retroactively go back and try as best as you can to smooth over the whole thing. Once you’ve apologized, write a sincere thank you note. This can be utilized to express your regrets once again, and can also be helpful in providing a brief opportunity to state anything you failed to mention before, and reiterate your interest in the position.

No matter how hard you are on yourself, slip ups do happen, and they’re just part of being human. All you can do is make the best of the situation, and try to correct your mistakes. Though an interviewer is the last person you want to catch you in a bad light, and you may feel too mortified or discouraged to rectify the situation, if the job is important to you, it may be worth a shot!