We all do our best to prepare for interviews. But when things don’t go as you had hoped, especially if it’s for the job you’ve been dreaming of, it can be hard to deal. It may not even be lack of preparation that can cause a fumbled interview; factors you cannot control come into play sometimes, such as illness, distraction caused by life circumstances or the environment in which the interview takes place, or having unexpected questions thrown at you.
If you feel you have messed up an interview, it’s possible there is no coming back, if you made mistakes such as using vulgar language or talking negatively about your old job. But we are only human, and many hiring managers will understand if we forgot to mention a relevant accomplishment or weren’t feeling well and didn’t have the level of energy we had hoped. If you messed up on an interview, here are a few steps to take to help you recover:
1) Don’t Wallow in What Happened
Try to avoid overanalyzing the details of what happened and getting too down on yourself after an interview where you feel you messed up. It’s important to stay positive during your job search, and it’s very possible that some or all of these mistakes are more noticeable to you than the interviewer.
2) Create a Plan of Action
First, decide if any of the mistakes you made are even worth pointing out to the interviewer. You don’t want to magnify any blunders that may otherwise have gone unnoticed. If you do feel you messed up in an interview and it’s worth trying to fix, you can do so in your follow-up thank you note. If you simply forgot to mention an important accomplishment or skill, you can just find a subtle way to include it in the letter, without making it seem like an apology. If you want to ask for another chance to interview, below is a sample thank you note that does just that:
Subject: Mary Brown Interview
Dear Mr./Mrs. Smith,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me for the [job title] position. It was a pleasure meeting with you and your team, and I truly feel the position would be an excellent fit for me, given my skills, personality and experience.
Despite my best efforts, I was feeling ill at the time of the interview and was not able to properly communicate my qualifications. At [previous position and employer] I developed [specific skills relevant to the position you are interviewing for] and feel very passionately that I can use this experience to be a valuable contribution to your team.
I would appreciate another opportunity to interview with you, and please feel free to discuss with my references any concerns you have regarding my qualifications for the job.
Again, thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
[Personal website or LinkedIn URL]
3) Learn From the Experience
When you’ve messed up on an interview or in any situation in life, the best thing you can do is take a lesson from it. Figure out what went wrong, and if possible do what you can to prevent it from happening again. If you didn’t study up enough on the company, make sure you do enough research next time. If you hesitated too much and fumbled over you answers to certain interview questions, do some practice interviewing and build up your confidence. The more interviews you do the better at it you will become.