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Ace Your Interview: Digging Yourself Out of a Tanking Interview

You can feel the job interview slipping away. There’s an uncomfortable silence after you reveal your biggest weakness. A tension arises as you discuss your previous employer. You’re starting to feel a rising terror. 

But what can you do to save the situation? 

No need to panic. Just because you sense trouble doesn’t mean that hope is completely lost. You can still turn the interview around and land that job. 

When you notice an interview heading south, there are steps you can take. Here are some of the ways you can dig yourself out of a tanking interview and still grasp the opportunity: 

Notice When Things Aren’t Going Well 

To start recovering from a pending disaster, you first have to realize that a disaster is about to happen. The Titanic might not have sunk if someone would have spotted the iceberg sooner. 

That’s your first job. Stay alert to body language and subtle signals from your interviewer. Understand when the vibe turns against you, so you can take steps to get back on track. 

Here are a few potential red flags to watch for: 

  • The interviewer seems rushing 
  • The interviewer seems disengaged 
  • The interviewer directly criticizes you 
  • You don’t get any follow-up questions 
  • No one sells you on the job or the company 

Stay Calm 

Things are going bad. What can make them worse? A panicked response.  

If you notice an interview turning against you, don’t handicap yourself by becoming nervous. Keep your composure and think about how you can save the situation.  

Ask a Question 

We know. It’s tough to stay calm as you feel an opportunity slipping away. You might need a moment to gather your thoughts and make a plan. Unfortunately, interviews don’t come with a “time out” option. 

However, there is a way to buy some time. Ask your interviewer a question. It takes the pressure off of you and gives you that precious few minutes to recalibrate your mind.  

Clarify Previous Answers 

You can still fix your previous answers. If you feel like you tanked a prior question, take a moment to attempt a reset. 

Here’s how you do it: 

  • Wait until you receive the next question 
  • Say something like, “Before I answer that question, I just wanted to jump back to that previous topic for a second…” 
  • Provide the clarification you need as concisely as possible 
  • Answer the new question fully 

Think of Yourself as Starting Over 

So the interview hasn’t been going as well as you’d hoped. Don’t dwell on any mistakes. Look at the rest of the interview as a whole new conversation. 

Learn from Your Mistakes 

You might remember that a few sentences ago, we advised you not to dwell on your mistakes. That’s true. But that doesn’t mean you should repeat them next time. 

After the interview is over, think about where you went wrong. Identify your missteps and strategize about how you can avoid them in the future. Even if you bombed this interview, it isn’t a lost cause. You can learn from it and capture the next opportunity. 

Interviews become easier when you know you’re perfect for an opportunity. You get that confidence by working with a top recruiter, like Recruiting In Motion. 

Contact Recruiting In Motion to find the perfect employers for you. 

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