Current Size: 100%

When Your Interview Went Badly

Job interviews can be emotional roller coasters.  You feel so proud and excited to have been chosen from the (likely hundreds) of applications to be interviewed.  You spend days preparing so that you'll be able to perform well.  However as the interview progresses, you get the distinct impression that the interviewer is less than impressed.  Perhaps your mind went blank or you are struggling to answer the questions.  Or maybe just by reading the interviewer's body language, you can tell that they aren't buying what you are selling.  Whatever the reason for your lapse in confidence, bombing an interview is not a good feeling.  If it has happened to you, here's what you do next:     

Send a thank you note.  Although you may feel like you don't have a chance at getting the job, it is still important that you send a thank you note.  Despite your lack of confidence, you may be a contender for the job and even if you're not, it is important to demonstrate professionalism.  Use the thank you note as an opportunity to address any concerns that the employer might have and to highlight any strengths that you forgot to mention.  Keep it brief and positive.        

Self-Reflect.  As painful as bad interviews are, they are also valuable learning opportunities.  Give it a day and then take some time to reflect.  What went wrong at the interview?  What made you feel like it didn't go well?  What could you have done differently?  How will you approach future interviews?  If you are willing to learn the lessons, a bad interview can give you the information you need to turn your next interview into a job offer.  

Let it go.  There are always moments in a job interview when you wish that you could hop in your time machine and try a question (or the whole interview) again.  Unfortunately, we only get one shot.  There is no point in beating yourself up about what you should (and shouldn't) have said.  You did your best in the moment and that is all that you can really do.  Now it's time to move on.      

Don't give up.  Even though you got a terrible vibe from the interview, it is important to remember that you cannot read the interviewer's mind.  While the interviewer may have appeared unimpressed, they may have just been concentrating on your answers, or possibly they were upset about something completely unrelated to your interview.  There are many examples of job seekers who were disappointed with their interview performance only to be surprised by a job offer.  Don't lose hope.  

Look for new opportunities.  While you are waiting to hear from this employer, look for other opportunities.  This job may not have been right for you but another one will be.  The key is to keep going.  Nothing relieves the pain of having a bad interview like having another interview lined up! 

Confidence and motivation are key when you are looking for a job.  If you are not feeling good about your job search, that will come across in everything that you do.  A bad interview is upsetting but it's not the end of the world.  The worst case scenario is that it will cost you one potential job opportunity.  Don't let it sidetrack you; just keep going and other doors will open for you.    

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image by