Well, that didn’t go quite as planned.
Here’s the good news: It probably didn’t go as bad as you think. Interviewers know the process can make your palms sweat and cause you to lose your train of thought.
“We are all our own worst critics,” said Kerry Hannon, author of “Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness.” “Chances are the little voice in your head is a lot more critical than what the person observed on the other side of the table. Cut yourself a little slack.”
But if you feel like you bombed an interview, and you’re really interested in getting the job, there are still ways to recover.
You’re in the hot seat and flailing
If you are sitting across from the hiring manager and find yourself rambling, tap the brakes.
The important thing to remember is not to panic. Take a deep breath (or three) and try to pivot the conversation away from you and back to the interviewer.
“You just need to stop the train of thought and pause. Shift the conversation back to letting them speak,” said Hannon.
Ask a general question, such as: “What do you see as the biggest challenge for the person who takes this position?” Or “How would you describe the company’s culture?”
It also helps to prepare statements about who you are as a worker, your skillsets and the unique contributions that you can offer — should you feel like you are going too far off track.
“Boil it down into a simple message and then just return to that if you notice you are talking in circles,” said Anna Bray, an executive coach and career coach at Jody Michael Associates.
Put your thank you note to work
Yes, you should still send a thank you note — even if you think you bombed the interview.
Not only does it show graciousness, it’s also another opportunity to highlight your skills and experience or take another stab at answering a question that you missed during the interview.
Just don’t apologize or admit to messing up during the interview, experts said.
“Approach it in a positive way,” said Hannon.
Follow up and elaborate in the note on any questions that you don’t feel like you answered adequately or details about your skills and experience that might not have been clear. Just be careful not to highlight something the interviewer might have overlooked.
“Follow up to elaborate, but don’t admit you were a mess,” said Hannon.
Put your references on guard
If you feel like you didn’t do an adequate job of highlighting certain skills or experiences, have your references help fill in gaps.
Let your references know about the interview and alert them that (hopefully) they might get a call.
“Ask them to reiterate a point that maybe you feel like you didn’t make well, or highlight something more that you and the interviewer discussed,” suggested Bray.
Supplement your interview
If you didn’t put your best foot forward during the interview, follow up with additional support material that highlights your skills and experience.
Georgene Huang, CEO and cofounder of Fairygodboss, recalled a candidate who sent over a presentation that detailed what he envisioned accomplishing in the first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job.
“The candidate really went above and beyond, showing that he really wanted the job,” she said.
Learn from your mistakes
Not every interview is going to go perfectly, so it’s important to learn from your mistakes. Sit down and review which parts went well and what areas need improvement.
For many people, taking a slower approach when answering will mitigate future problems.
“It’s not a race,” said Hannon. “Don’t ramble, be confident and slow down and be calm.”