How To Fix A Bad Interview

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Learn how to fix a bad interview, while it is happening! If you start to lose confidence and control, you can regain control of the interview to make a great impression on the hiring manager. I teach you to reflect on your nonverbal communication, get into the right mindset, and take back control of your interview.

So you’re messing up the interview. Now what? Before you blame the hiring manager, read this. 

Placing blame on an external factor is problematic because it never forces you to address the core issue. But once you look inward, own up to communication failures and take the reins, you’ll be much better positioned to have successful outcomes in social interaction.

Today we’re talking about an interview that’s going awry. 

Have you experienced an interview like that before? 

The feeling of losing control, aware that the hiring manager can see it…and we feel like it’s the end.

I’m sure you have. We all have. And that’s ok. 

Instead of complaining about the hiring manager or the questions or the weather… anything but you… we need to take the reins if we want to turn this interview around. 

Here are strategies you can easily implement to position yourself to recover from the interview that is currently unfolding.

Above all else, you’re assuming responsibility. Because your sub-par performance has nothing to do with the hiring manager, and everything to do with you right?

Let’s get right into it.

HERE ARE STRATEGIES THAT YOU SHOULD HAVE IN YOUR BACK POCKET SO THAT YOU CAN IMPLEMENT THEM WHEN YOU NEED TO REGAIN CONTROL OF THE INTERVIEW

(1)    Slow it down

Use pause in your speaking to avoid fillers. If you feel like an “um, ah, like” coming on, then just pause instead. Silence is powerful. Slowing down when you speak will help with two things. (1) The hiring manager / person interviewing you will be able to digest and process what you said and (2) you will buy yourself some solid thinking time which will allow you to formulate a thoughtful response to their question. Doing this is a great way of framing the answer well so that you’re not blurting out nonsensical responses.

(2)    Remember the JD

Keep the job description fresh in your mind. Think about the points that you would like to make to the hiring manager as they relate to what they’re looking for in the candidate. Make sure you’ve identified the primary skills, the must-haves for this role. If you want to take it a step further highlight the secondary skills (would-be-nice’s) and the tertiary skills (which is how you’ll answer the “tell me about yourself” question). 

(3)    Check your nonverbals

We are constantly communicating. Even when no words are coming out of our mouths. We communicate with our eyes, our smile, our gestures, and our body language. Even when we’re silent we are communicating something. So make sure that your paralinguistics (nonverbal communication) are in check. If the interview is not going well, think about what your body is expressing. Ask yourself, “am I making eye contact?”, “am I smiling or do I have a tense expression on my face?” , “what are my hands doing?”, and “how’s my posture.” By asking such questions we become cognizant of how we are communicating, not just what we are communicating. 

(4)    Listen to the question 

Listening is one of the most important team skills that exists. You can bet that the hiring manager is making note of how well you can listen. Make it a point of showing active listening (click here for the lesson). When we’re nervous we just try to think of our answers that we prepared - and we may not be giving the hiring manager our undivided attention. Stop. Stop thinking about how you’re going to formulate an intelligent response and listen. Active listening is imperative. It allows you to grasp what the hiring manager is actually saying instead of piecemeal listening where you latch on to a few words that you base your response on without completely understanding the question. Stop and listen to pay attention.

After the hiring manager asks his/her question and you do not understand then ask for clarification. It’s ok to ask them to repeat the question. Perhaps they were unclear in their phrasing. Maybe they spoke too quickly and English is not your first language. That is OKAY! Just ask them to clarify, repeat or reformulate their question so that you know how to answer. 

Additionally, it is paramount that you take some thinking time (TT). TT will serve you well because it will prevent you from blurting out a response that has little to do with the question. Remember: just because you’re talking does not mean you’re answering the question. It’s better to say fewer words that are on point than it is to speak at great length but does not add much value. Thinking before you speak is very powerful and can help you refer to the job description that’s on your mind. And don’t forget to go back to your talking points that you’ve prepared ahead of the interview so that you can frame your response appropriately. 

(5)    Breathe

We’re not talking about getting into a full-on breathing session here, which would be nice, but remember, you’re mid-interview. But do remember to breathe. When we get tense, we tend to take short breaths. Quickened breathing affects your brain chemistry, causing light-headedness and triggering other panic responses. Don’t hyperventilate! So be sure to take a few full deep breaths to get you thinking again. You’ll noticed that filling your diaphragm with air will help calm you down and get you back in the conversation!

(6)    Ask for a rain check

If all else fails and you’re truly having an “off” day due to physical or personal reasons. Don’t worry. It’s better to be transparent and request a rain check. While it does not always happen, it’s worth a try. The likeliness that the hiring manager will fulfill this request will depend largely on a few things, such as: 

  • your strength as a candidate (skills, XP, background, education)
  • the caliber of your creds (kick-ass resume, publications, portfolio, successful YouTube channel)
  • personality match with the company’s cultural ethos (i.e., you get along well with the hiring manager, etc).
  • anything else about you that the company likes (because DUH, you’re awesome, Explearners)

If you are confident in your ability to add value to this company, then be candid about what is preventing you from giving a top-notch performance. Be sure that you are explaining the situation rather than excusing yourself. The former shows you are holding yourself accountable for your sub-par performance, whereas the latter suggests that you are placing blame on an external factor. Make sure you phrase it as an explanation! If you can, they try to reschedule the hiring manager may just take you up on this offer!

Alright Explearners, so let’s quickly recap before we go.

The problem we’re trying to solve is about bouncing back from an interview that’s not going so well. 

 We’ve addressed this problem in 6 ways. Even if you do 2 or 3 of these strategies you might be able to recover from an interview going south. 

You can turn it around, finish strong with your stellar questions you’ve prepared. Be positive, and if all else fails, you can look back on this interview as a teachable moment. Because failure sometimes is the best type of feedback we can get if we want to level up. 

Happy Explearning 🐝