Job Interviews That Go Wrong

You’ve probably had at least one job interview in your career that “went south”–maybe even when you thought you had done well in it. (If not, consider yourself lucky!) Rather than beat yourself up about what seemed like a missed job opportunity, why not treat it as another kind of opportunity–a chance to gather and review critical job search intelligence so you can come out on top the next time?

Disappointing Job Interview Scenarios–and What to Do about Them

In some cases, you might have realized before the interview concluded that you weren’t exactly ace-ing it. If you think quickly on your feet and can come up with an approach that helps rescue the interview from the path it’s traveling down and reposition you as a strong candidate, great. However, most of us probably need more time to think things over than the interview situation usually provides.

On the other hand, if you thought your job interview ranked somewhere between “reasonably good” and “great,” only to discover that you were destined for the candidate wastebasket, it might be time to take a hard look at how that happened.

job seeker is rejected by bull bossStart by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Were there any signs of possible trouble early on, maybe even during the process of scheduling the interview?
  2. Did I miss signals during the interview that might have given me a clue, because I was so impressed with how good I was feeling about it?
  3. Was I paying attention to what the interviewer was really asking (listening to voice tone, watching body language, etc.), instead of just assuming I knew?
  4. Did I talk more than I listened, getting carried away with enthusiasm and monopolizing the interview?
  5. Did I leave the meeting without asking permission to call the interviewer as a follow-up?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, your corrective action should be fairly clear. “Yes” in these instances is not a good thing. This is your chance to learn something about what you might have done wrong and improve your odds of success in future interviews.

How to Prevent Job Interviews from Going Wrong

The first step is to avoid making what ought to be obvious mistakes. Preparation is more than just a nice, 4-syllable word! In fact, doing thorough interview preparation is as important as conducting yourself well during the actual interview.

The following should be no-brainers, but some job candidates still manage to get them wrong:Was the interview too early for you

  • Do your homework well ahead of time, so you’re as familiar with the company’s situation, background, etc., as possible.
  • Double-check the time of your interview and plan to leave early enough to allow a safety margin. If you’re late, you’d better have a catastrophically good reason!
  • Make sure you know everything you need or want to take with you and have it ready ahead of time.
  • Refresh your memory the day before about critical points you want to share, answers to key questions you know you might be asked, etc.
  • Get contact information (business cards if possible) for each person you interview with, so you can send him/her a short thank-you note afterward.

No one can predict all the potential ways your job interview could go wrong, but you can shorten the odds considerably if you plan and prepare the way a really savvy job seeker would.


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