Let’s face it. The process of proving your worth against a pool of other candidates is an overwhelming task. While you know you have enormous potential and would be a great fit for the position, you don’t know what your competition is saying or doing to get their foot in the door.
You prepare, buy a new outfit so you can feel your best and walk into the room to face your potential future bosses with confidence. Suddenly, you freeze and everything you remembered about being on top of your game goes out the window. Now, you are left with the sad realization that your first impression in the interview for the job of your dreams was less than fantastic.
Many people struggle with the first few minutes of an interview. The nerves you experience alone are enough to throw off your natural talent and ability to present yourself well.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost. Here are eight ways you can redeem yourself from a negative first impression on your job interview. This can well be applied on face-to-face interviews as well as phone or Skype interviews.
- Admit you misspoke – The first moment you realize that the answer you just gave to a question came out wrong and left your interviewer raising their eyebrows, stop in your tracks, take a breath and ask to start over. The people interviewing you got to their position by going through the same process you face. They understand that nerves can make things sound differently than intended and will more than likely welcome a second attempt when you are calm.
- Start a conversation – If you notice that your interviewers are yawning and trying to wrap up the interview as quickly as possible, start your own conversation with them. Ask questions to get them engaged. This will help your interview to flow more naturally and show them that you are genuinely interested in the company.
- Avoid the words ‘I Don’t Know’ – Although you have prepared, it is not uncommon for an interviewer to throw in a curveball question to see how you react under pressure. Before answering this type of question take a breath and pause for a moment. Then, even if you are unsure of how you should respond or what you want to say, work through your response openly so that the interviewer can see your masterful problem solving skills and thought.
- Embrace your weaknesses – Maybe your weakness is the job interview. Embrace this and when asked, let your job interviewer know that you are feeling more nervous than usual in the situation. Once you’ve stated you are uncomfortable, follow it up with why it makes you nervous and how you have worked to overcome your fears. This will end the question on a high note and let the interviewer know that you are aware of your shortcomings.
- Be human – If you have made it half way through the interview and do not feel like you are acting like yourself, take a mental step back and reevaluate how you are answering questions. Then, focus the rest of the interview on being natural with how you answer. Often times when job seekers get so overwhelmed with how to answer specific questions, they end up sounding rehearsed which turns interviewers off. If you get this impression, take a moment to readjust your style and focus on just being you.
- Send a thank you note – Once you leave, the negative first impression has been made and now you must work to recover from your poor showing. One of the first things you should do is send a thank you note to the people you interviewed with. If you have their email addresses, sending a quick email to say thank you will show your appreciation and keep you at the forefront of their minds without having to wait a few days for the mail to arrive at the office. Be genuine in your appreciation for their time and put your best foot forward in writing.
- Ask for another chance – Take the opportunity to ask for the chance to meet with the interviewers again. Be honest about your shortcomings and let them know that you want another shot at the position, and why. Expressing your desire to work with the company of your dreams will show your determination and will likely get you another opportunity to make a second impression.
- Take a lesson learned from your fumble – Mistakes happen to everyone. It is those who can learn from their mistakes, pick up their pride and move forward onto another dream job that ultimately lands the position they hope for. If you cannot recover from one bad impression in a job interview, simply take it as a life experience and do your best to move forward quickly from the negative experience. Then, apply your lesson learned to your next job interview for better success.
Negative interviews are not the end of the world. While in the job interview and after, you have plenty of chances to recover from a poor start. Use these tips to help you land the job of your dreams.
Tess Pajaron is part of the team behind Open Colleges. Her desire to consistently improve her life led her down the road of psychology. When not working, she loves to travel and discover new places and cultures, having a fancy for modern minimalist architecture and interior design. She can also be found on InformEd, where she regularly contributes about eLearning and education.