How to Turn a Bad Interview Around


You just felt the mood shift. You finished the answer detailing your biggest weakness, and the vibe in the room soured slightly. Everyone got strangely quiet. One of your interviewers suddenly started typing furiously on a laptop. The other two exchanged a knowing glance.

You feel your mouth dry out. All the moisture drains from your body and pours out of you in an escalating cold sweat. Things are going south.

However, there is still time to turn things around. One misstep, even a seemingly egregious one, doesn’t have to sink your chances completely. You can maneuver to get the interview back on track. Here’s how:

Stay Positive

Don’t turn sour or combative. That will just make the situation worse. Even if you feel the interview slipping away from you, stay calm and project a positive attitude.

First off, your perception of how the interview is going might be wrong. You just met these interviewers…it will be hard to interpret their body language with complete certainty. Meanwhile, you’ll never get them back in your corner with a negative attitude. Better to push through on false hope than drive things further down with an unpleasant turn.

Read the Room

You come in, try a few jokes, but don’t get any real response. Crickets. Don’t double down with your five-minute standup routine.

Change your strategy to fit the mood of the room. If they get friendly, get friendly. If they stay coldly professional, follow their lead. One misstep doesn’t mean the whole interview is off track. But you have to be willing to change direction when you make that first mistake.

Circle Back Around

If you feel like you botched in earlier question don’t stew over it. Fix it. Figure out a way to get back on the subject, so you can expand your response with something more substantial.

if you can’t find a clever transition, you can just say something like “I don’t think I gave a complete answer to your earlier question…do you mind if I elaborate?”

Ask a Question

Take the focus off of you for a while. Engage your interviewer by giving them the opportunity to talk. Ask them a question. Their answer will fill some space, draw them out of their shell, and give you a potential opportunity to jump back in with a better idea of what they are looking for.

Radical Idea: Try Honesty

Things have already turned sour. What do you have to lose? Invest a little cleansing truth to re-establish a connection. In extreme cases, you can say something “I feel like we got off on the wrong foot.” It might provide the parachute you need to escape a nose-diving situation.

Use the Follow-Up for Some Redemption

Even if the interview didn’t proceed as planned, you still have room to maneuver. Use your follow up communication to revive a rapport. You’ll have the benefit of having time to compose your communication and craft it just the way you want.

Meeting with prospective employers can be intimidating. That’s why it helps to have a professional backing you up. A top-ranked staffing firm, like DHR, can provide the guidance and direction you need to find the perfect situation for you.

Contact DHR today to find out more.

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