When making a career transition, few things make you feel better than being asked in for an interview. And there are few things that feel worse than getting in the chair and feeling like you’re not connecting with the interviewer. But this doesn’t have to be a missed opportunity. A bad interview can be turned around – if you act in time.
We’ve all had bad interviews. Usually they don’t go well right from the beginning. Your answers are rambling. The interviewer isn’t engaged with you. You sit there wondering why you even bothered to get your hopes up.
You’ve already impressed
The first thing to remember here is that you’ve already made a good impression. They’ve asked to meet you. There must be something about you they like or something that intrigues them.
Nerves are normal, and if they seem to be getting the best of you acknowledge it. Own up to being nervous. Often that can be enough to calm you down. But it’s important to keep in mind that you are going into the interview with something already in your favor.
Take a deep breath, and start over
We can all get mush mouth. It’s especially likely to pop up if you’re nervous. You start talking too fast. Your mind goes blank, and you keep talking to fill the silence while you mentally regroup.
If you find yourself in this situation, pause. Take a deep breath. Start over. An interviewer would rather hear you take a second shot at answering a question rather than hear you ramble something that makes little sense or doesn’t address what he or she wants to know.
If you still aren’t sure if you were clear, ask, “Did I answer your question?” An interview is nothing more than a conversation. You want to make sure that the interviewer leaves with what they want to know.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Still need a moment to gather yourself? Ask the interviewer a question. It will get them talking and give you a moment to get yourself together. Asking a question also shows interest in knowing more about the position and the company.
You should already have questions you want to ask anyway. After all, an interview is a chance for you to learn about them too. If you find yourself fumbling for words, feeling overwhelmed or lost, this is a great time to pull out one of those questions.
Asking something is also a great way to re-engage someone whose attention you may have lost. It forces them to refocus on you. And keep in mind, apparent disinterest may not be personal. Chances are you aren’t that person’s first or last interview of the day.
It may not have gone so poorly
In the end, keep in mind that we are often our own worst critics. You don’t know how someone across the desk is reacting to what you perceive as failure. That interview that you thought you’d bombed probably wasn’t as bad as you think.