The bad news: No matter how much you prepare for an interview, it’s unrealistic to expect a flawless, flub-free performance. After all, you’re not a robot, and anxiety or pressure can get the best of anyone.
The good news: You can recover from most any interview gaffe.
We at Masiello Employment have helped many people prep for successful interviews, which includes the proper way to handle interview mistakes. Here’s how you recover gracefully from 7 classic mistakes:
1. You messed up the name of the company or the person interviewing you. As soon as you realize the error, correct it, blame it on nerves, and move on. Make it a point to get the names correct moving forward (no matter what!)
2. You can’t think of an answer. Don’t panic—you don’t have to fill in every single second with words, and answers that roll off the tongue a little too quickly may seem scripted. So it is OK if you’re unable to think of an answer right away, take a breath, smile, and offer a stock reply you have at the ready for moments like this (“That’s a great question, let me give that some thought before I answer”) to give your brain a chance to process. If you’re truly stumped, ask the interviewer to rephrase the question, suggest you address it later in the interview or request you provide an answer in a follow-up email.
3. You got a detail wrong about the company. The interviewer might expect you to have done some research into the company and may ask questions to test what you know, so make sure you do your homework. If it turns out a detail you present is inaccurate, don’t get embarrassed or defensive; instead, thank the interviewer for the insight—and, if you feel it’s appropriate, you might even make a little joke about how you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
4. Your phone rings or beeps. It’s critical to silence or, ideally, power down your cell phone before the interview begins. If you forget and you get a call or text, quickly get to your phone, power it down, apologize for the oversight, and move on. Whatever you do, don’t take the call or read the text!
5. You’re talking too fast. It’s understandable that you’ve got a lot to say about why you’re right for the job, but if you find yourself rushing out answers, slow down immediately and maintain a relaxed speed for the rest of the interview. If this is a common occurrence for you, practice answering interview questions with friends or family members beforehand, asking them to indicate to you when you’re talking too fast.
6. You’re losing your train of thought. There’s a lot to share during an interview and it’s easy to get carried away, saying too much or trying to tie too many stories or experiences together to answer a question. If you sense you’ve lost your way, quickly change course and get back on topic.
7. You think of the perfect answer or detail, after the interviewer has moved on to another question. Give the current question all your attention and be sure it’s fully answered before you switch back to the previous topic, saying something like, “I’d like to share some additional details to a question you asked earlier” or “Earlier, when you asked me to share my relevant experience, I’d like to also mention [details here]”.
Finally, consider your “thank you” email or letter as a way to right any lingering wrongs. For instance, if you didn’t know enough about the company when asked about it, do additional research afterward and highlight facts and figures you feel are most relevant, making sure not to focus too much on the oops.
Want more interview-acing advice and job-finding insight like this? Of course you do! Give Masiello Employment a call; our recruiting team is available for a free consultation.