How to Use a Botched Job Interview to Your Advantage was originally published on Ivy Exec.
There are many reasons job interviews don’t go well. Perhaps the job posting was misleading, and it turns out you don’t have experience necessary for the position. Or maybe you didn’t prepare as fully as you could have beforehand, leading you to tailor your responses to the wrong audience.
Or maybe you’ve had a negative experience with your interviewer, like the one shared by a Redditor who arrived at her interview five minutes early – only to have her interviewer question why she had been five minutes late.
“She starts by saying, ‘I don’t know if I want to interview someone who’s late. I told her I got there 5 minutes early… then reminded her that she was 10 minutes late, and asked what does that say about her?” u/p-heiress said of her interview, which didn’t improve from there. The poster ended up calling corporate to complain about her experience.
Negative interview experiences, either because of your lack of preparation or a poor fit with the interviewer, can be disappointing. Especially if you were excited about the job, a botched interview could be disappointing because it thwarts your prospects for a future at the company.
You don’t have to perceive an unsuccessful interview as a total loss, however. Instead, you can glean significant insights from your experience.
Don’t ever stop your job search
When you have an interview for a job you want, it can be tempting to put your search on hold and throw all your energy into interviewing for your dream position. But this is a mistake. You should never stop your job search when you make it to the interview stage for a single position. Instead, keep several irons in the fire: searching for jobs, applying, and interviewing.
At the same time, you don’t want to be so overwhelmed with interviews that you can’t prepare for them properly. Try to apply for 10 to 15 jobs per week.
Aim to make up for your interview mistakes
If you made mistakes in your job interview, all may not be lost. You can write an email to the hiring manager, letting them know which questions you failed to answer with enough detail.
The Work Life Money Coaching blog offers ideas for how to write an email to your hiring manager, adding additional information you might have forgotten: After our interview, I realized that I neglected to include [insert a few short sentences of what you felt you missed during the interview. Keep it concise.] I truly enjoyed our discussion on … [include some talking points of the projects or topics discussed in the interview].
Realize that bad interviews may demonstrate a cultural mismatch
Maybe the problems in the job interview weren’t your fault. Rather, your interviewer did not set you up for success. Perhaps you were asked difficult questions that you could have answered more completely if you had been given them in advance. Or maybe your interview was held in a noisy room with many distractions.
Don’t blame yourself if you couldn’t leap every hurdle thrown at you. Instead, decide if the negative experience was your interviewer’s fault. If this is the case, you might be glad that you weren’t hired for the role. After all, your interview experience is likely to be the best predictor of what working at the organization would actually be like.
“But if an interview really leaves you feeling frustrated, you probably want to move on. When employees don’t respect the interview process, it’s likely there are a lot of bad hires floating around—and they’d be your colleagues. You don’t want to end up in the wrong role, in the wrong organization, and with the wrong people. Let a bad interview stay just that; don’t let it become a bad career situation,” said career coach Chrissy Scivicque for Ivy Exec.
Identify the questions you didn’t know how to answer
It’s important to note the questions you couldn’t answer and figure out why you struggled to respond. Were you thrown by a complex technical question? Or did you forget to think of an example that would demonstrate a certain competency? Once you identify the questions you couldn’t answer, prioritize developing smart responses before your next interview – when a similar question is likely to be raised.
Alternatively, were you unable to answer a question well because you lacked the skill set the company required? If this is the case, you may need to start developing the experience you didn’t have. Perhaps ask your current manager to lead a project or volunteer your time in developing the expertise you haven’t yet acquired.
Bad Job Interviews Aren’t a Waste of Time
You don’t have to write off a failed job interview as a fruitless time suck. Really, you can learn a lot from this type of experience. A disorganized or unprofessional interview might signal that you don’t want to work at the company after all. If you haven’t sufficiently prepared, the embarrassment you face for your lack of effort could make you prepare more completely in the future.
So, the best thing you can do after a botched job interview isn’t stewing in regret – it’s figuring out what you can do better next time.