Your interview is heading into a nose dive! Something went wrong—very, very wrong—and if you don’t take immediate evasive action, you’re going to walk out of the office without a job offer. What can you do to keep your hiring prospects from heading full speed over a cliff? Keep these considerations in mind.
Oh the Humanity! Salvage an Interview that’s Bursting into Flames
Here are the most effective strategies for turning a huge interview blunder into a potential job offer:
1. You personally insulted your interviewer.
This often happens when a candidate shares a negative opinion about a company, a company project, a specific person, or an industry event that happens to be:
- A company the interviewer used to work for.
- A project that the interviewer worked on while employed by said company.
- A person the interviewer happens to know.
- An industry event that the interviewer was personally involved with in some way.
Remember: Industries and cities are small. Even if you think you’re discussing a competing company or a person your interviewer couldn’t possible know, think twice before you say anything mocking or insulting in a job interview. Keep your comments positive or keep them to yourself.
2. You got your ire up.
You have strong feelings about a controversial issue, and unfortunately, your interviewer just reached out for that third rail and grabbed it. It may not have been deliberate, but she just placed herself on the wrong side of a subject that you feel passionate about, and in a moment of weakness, you let your feelings show. What now? The tension in the room is palpable, and your interview is going to the dogs as you watch.
Save it by simply stating that you have strong feelings on the issue, but you recognize this isn’t the time or place to discuss them. Politely ask for a change of subject. Smile.
3. You were caught in a lie (or exaggeration).
This one is pretty bad. Of course, the best solution to this crisis is avoiding it in the first place, but if it’s too late for that, don’t panic or backpedal. Just do what you can to salvage your dignity. Admit that you stretched the truth and offer a short, clear explanation as to why. Apologize.
4. Your interviewer just laughed (and not because you made a joke).
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Politely ask for the reasons behind the laughter. If your credentials are woefully out of line with the needs of the position, move past the laughter and address the misalignment with dignity and clarity. Straighten out any misunderstandings and emphasize your strengths.
5. Your interviewer asked a knowledge-based question and you couldn’t answer correctly.
If you flubbed the answer to a knowledge-based question, don’t offer excuses. It’s okay to demonstrate a sense of humor about your error and ask for another question as a mulligan. By all means, get the second one right.
6. You completely lost control of your nerves.
This one is awkward, there’s no way around it. If you spaced out, started to cry, threw up on your interviewer’s desk, or had a full-blown meltdown simply because you were nervous, just admit that it happened because you were nervous.
Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Let the interviewer know that you’re nervous because you really, really want this job. Then have faith in his or her humanity, courtesy, and mercy, and ask for an opportunity to put the incident aside and move on. Accept the answer you’re given.
Keep Your Interview on Track
If you expect the unexpected and keep a steady grip on the wheel, your interview will be less likely to swerve out of your control. Prepare as much as possible beforehand.
Visit LiveCareer and get expert interview advice. Then, ask your friend to challenge you with the scenarios above and any others you can think of. No matter what, bring your flexibility and resilience with you on the day of your meeting.
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