How to Bounce Back From 4 Horrible Interview Mistakes

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Let’s just face the facts—job interviews can be scary. You have a short amount of time to truly connect with the hiring manager and prove that you’re the very best fit for that open position. There’s such an immense amount of pressure to have the entire event be flawless. But, guess what? Slipups and blunders are bound to happen, regardless of how hard you try to avoid them.

That’s right, you’re going to make a mistake in an interview every now and then. And, while it might feel like the world is crashing down around you in the heat of the moment, you definitely don’t need to resort to crying in your car once that meeting is over. In fact, there are a few different ways to rebound from your missteps and save your interview! Check out these four common interview mistakes, and find out how exactly you can bounce back from them.

1. You Arrived Late

Life happens. Whether you slept through your alarm, managed to get lost, got a speeding ticket on your way to the meeting location, or were just stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, you’re doing the unthinkable and committing the cardinal sin of job interviews: you’re running late.

First things first, take a deep breath. Remember that your interviewer is only human too, and he or she has likely been in a similar situation before. Your best bet here is to be proactive and call as soon as you know you aren’t going to make your scheduled time. Giving advanced warning is way better than sprinting into the office lobby cursing and sweating.

So, the minute you realize you’re going to be late, get out your phone and call the hiring manager. What should you say? Try this:

“Hi [hiring manager’s name]. This is [your name], and we were scheduled for an interview at [time of your interview]. Unfortunately, I’m running late. I’m on my way right now, but just wanted to call and keep you updated. Would you still like to meet today, or would rescheduling our meeting work better on your end?”

Don’t feel like you need to provide a lengthy explanation (or an explanation at all) for why you’re running behind—particularly if it’s due to oversleeping or something of that nature. The important part is to apologize and ask what works best for the hiring manager’s schedule.

2. You Forgot to Research the Company

You know that you’re knocking the interview out of the park. You’ve aced every question, and you’re already picturing your name on those brand new business cards. Then, the interviewer asks, “So, what part of our company mission statement resonates most with you?”

Your pulse quickens and your mouth goes dry. You totally forgot to research the company—meaning you couldn’t recite a single word of their mission statement. How are you supposed to eloquently explain what piece you admire the most, when you have no clue what the dang thing even says?

I won’t use this opportunity to preach how important it is that you research the organization before each and every interview. That advice won’t help you when you’re already in the throes of panic mode. Instead, you need to own up to your gap in knowledge—but in a way that still makes you look prepared and polished.

Sound impossible? It’s not. First, you just need to start out with something that you do know about the company by saying, “Well, I know that [company name] really values [core value] and [core value].”

Next, move onto admitting that you’re unfamiliar with their official mission. “But, unfortunately, I don’t have your formal mission statement committed to memory. If you have a copy I could review quickly, I’d love to elaborate on the piece I connect most with.”

Admitting defeat or a flaw in an interview isn’t always the easiest or most natural thing to do. But, it’s far better than attempting to fumble your way through a disjointed and completely nonsensical response.

3. You Left Your Cell Phone On

You’re halfway through eloquently explaining your professional history, when suddenly you hear it. Your phone is ringing. The interviewer is trying to pretend not to notice while you break into a cold sweat. And, if you neglected to even put your phone on vibrate and your ringtone is something embarrassing like “Baby Got Back”? Well, the situation just went from inconvenient to completely mortifying.

You need to shut your phone off—and fast. So, dig in your pocket or your bag to grab that phone and ignore that call. Then, proceed to shut it off immediately while saying, “I’m so sorry, I forgot to turn my phone off!”

As long as you address the situation immediately, it likely won’t have any impact beyond that (after all, who hasn’t forgotten to silence their phone at one point or another?).

4. You Neglected to Prepare Questions

The interview is wrapping up, and you’re feeling pretty confident about the entire meeting. You think you’re in the clear, when the interviewer ends things by asking, “So, what questions do you have for me?”

You know you need to ask something—or else you run the risk of looking totally unengaged and disinterested. But, there’s not a single well-educated question you can think of asking.

When all else fails, say something along the lines of, “I actually got everything answered throughout the course of this interview! But, I’ll be sure to reach out if I think of any burning questions I need answered.” It’s definitely not as ideal as having a great question to end the interview on. But, it’s better than staring at the interviewer blankly with your mouth hanging open.

If you’re worried about running into this problem in future interviews, you can always default to the standard, “What’s your favorite part about working here?” question. Is it the best thing you could ask? Probably not. But, it’ll still give you a good sense of what the entire company is about—and help to fill that awkward silence.

Job interviews can be tense and uncomfortable situations. And, no matter how much you rehearse, mistakes are bound to happen every now and then. But, it’s not always so much about what happens—but how you react to it. Keep these four common slipups and remedies in mind, and you’re sure to ace that next interview!

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