A job interview is your first (and sometimes only) chance to make a positive impression on a potential employer. If you blow it, you'll probably feel you’ve lost your chance at a job you spent hours preparing for and visualizing. Additionally, a perceived need to “make up” for last year’s pandemic-related setbacks has added to personal pressure for a strong start to 2021.
However, landing the ideal job can sometimes be harder than the job itself. Here are tips for avoiding, or spontaneously correcting, interview mistakes:
• You can’t get to the interview on time. Typically, you’re prompt, but an unavoidable delay pops up like a problem with public transportation or a car that simply won’t start. Chances are, the hiring manager has also had unexpected situations pop up in life— give them a call and explain the situation. Provide a solution, such as rescheduling for later in the day or going virtual for the interview. When you do connect, apologize and explain what happened, and show appreciation for their willingness to meet with you... then move on and shine during the interview itself.
• You’re so nervous that you aren’t doing your best. Thorough preparation and a practice interview can help ease your nerves, but sometimes you’re overwhelmed. If that happens, simply pause, admit you’re nervous because the position is valuable to you, and buy yourself a moment to regroup. Take a sip of water or coffee, center yourself, and gather your thoughts so you can respond to the question. Many interviewers will appreciate your honesty and authenticity.
• You don’t ask questions. Some interviewers ask whether you have any questions as a test—they want to see if you’re really interested in the organization, or just looking for any job. As you go through the interview, make mental note of a few key topics, and later on phrase a question that addresses something you’ve already covered, but ask for more detail so you can continue the conversation.
• You didn’t do your research or you focused on a different subject area. Employers are impressed by candidates who walk through the door with a lot of knowledge about their organization. Do your homework ahead of time, but if you’re hit with a question you can’t answer, don’t panic. Do your best to make it a conversation to show you are willing to pick up the information as you go, then focus on answering the next question knowledgeably and confidently. In your follow-up thank you letter or email, provide more detail on anything you missed, showing off your ability to pursue answers.