As nice as it would be to ace every interview, the reality is that sometimes we falter. Whether you realize during the interview you didn’t do enough research ahead of time, or you feel like your nerves are getting the better of you, here are some common interview missteps and how to handle them during the interview so you have a chance of turning it around.
While ideally you’d show up to the job interview about 10 minutes early, sometimes unexpected obstacles present themselves, and it’s not possible to arrive on time. If you know you’re going to be a bit late, the polite thing to do is call the hiring manager and let them know you’re on your way and the expected time you should get there. Once you arrive, apologize for your tardiness and quickly explain what happened. Even the most punctual people can show up late occasionally, so if you have a good (and honest) excuse, the hiring manager should be understanding of the situation.
For most, nerves during an interview are inevitable and it seems the more you want the job, the more nervous you are since there is more on the line. Unfortunately, that nervous energy can result in fidgeting, speaking too fast, blanking out, and babbling (all things you don’t want to do during an interview). While there are steps you can take before the interview to calm your anxiety, during the interview itself, you’re pretty limited. One thing you can do though is pause and slow down your breathing. Try your best to really listen to the interviewer and focus on the questions they are asking, all while breathing slowly and evenly. When we are nervous our breathing can become fast and shallow, making our heart rate rise and increasing the feeling of stress, so take some slow deep breaths to try and calm yourself.
Didn’t Prepare Enough
Another interview misstep scenario is not having prepared for your interview enough and messing up an answer. If you’re in the interview and there is still time to turn it around, try and fix your mistake. In an article in Harvard Business Review they have the recommendation, “If you’re still in the interview, you might politely say: ‘I just realized that I haven’t mentioned…’ or ‘I don’t think I fully answered your question. I’d like to add…’ If you realize your mistake or omission after the interview has ended, you can send a thank-you email that says, ‘I want to add to [or clarify, or revise] what I said about x…’ That way you don’t have to lie awake at night worrying about your flub.” And if it’s not possible to fix the mistake during the interview, the best thing to do is move on and try your best to answer the rest of the questions as best as you can vs. remaining hung up on the one question you wish you had answered differently.