How to pick yourself up after a bad interview

You know that sinking feeling that settles in your stomach when you know there’s no way you’re getting the job? Us too.

Bad interviews happen to everyone, and we all have that one worst interview experience that haunts us when the job search comes around.

You’re not alone. We asked 1000 people in the West Midlands what their worst experience was. Here are a few that stood out:

  • ‘I bad mouthed a former boss who would have been the new boss.’
  • ‘I had to do a presentation and I totally lost my confidence and just rambled on and on without making any of the correct points.’
  • ‘I went into autopilot and realised I was giving answers to a different job I had applied for. I only realised when I noticed the look on the interviews face.’

Even if you think you can never face another interview, it’s time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the metaphorical horse.

Step 1. Give yourself some time

If you’ve just had a bad interview and you know you could have done better, take a step back and give yourself a break. ‘To err is human’. Stop for a coffee on the way back, or run yourself a hot bath and give yourself some time to breath. Fretting about it can alter your perspective and make you remember the interview as worse than it actually was.

Step 2. Look for lessons

If you didn’t get the role, it’s an opportunity for you to analyse exactly what went wrong and how you can prevent this happening again. For example, if you couldn’t answer questions about the company, make sure you give yourself time to adequately research and prepare next time. If your nerves got the better of you, try calming techniques whilst your waiting to go in. Pinpointing exactly where it went downhill can help you in the future.

Step 3. Move on

As human beings, we can spend hours lying in bed at night replaying the situation over and over. Once you’ve given yourself time to review how it went, allow yourself to move on. There’s nothing you can do to salvage the situation and there are hundreds more opportunities waiting for you.

Step 4. Get back on the horse

Don’t let a bad experience stop you from getting back out there. The good news is that every interview you have, whether good or bad, is more experience for you to improve on. You’ll become more confident with each interview and suddenly you’ll go from zero to hero and get the job!  

Conversely, it’s not always you that needs to reflect on why it went wrong.

Nightmare interviews can be through the fault of the hiring organisation (maybe they weren’t clear about what they wanted) or the interview panel.

Remember, you are making sure the company is the right fit for you, not just if you are a right fit for the company. So, you might just have dodged a bullet!

Here are a few examples pulled from our survey highlighting bad interviews caused by an organisation/interviewer:

  • ‘I was given scenarios where the boss was in a bad mood and was in effect shouting orders at me and wanted me to give priority to his requests - how would I handle it? I said that I would and could not work for a company that treated their staff so badly. ‘
  • ‘I was asked what I had done over some years, I said brought up my children to which he replied, ‘Nothing then.’’
  • ‘The interviewer was drunk.’

If you have a bad experience or feel that you don’t fit in with the organisation, be honest and walk away. It’s their loss. But don’t be afraid to give feedback – the interview is a two-way process.

Click here to read our interview advice.

Good luck!

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