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Six Steps to Take Following a Bad Job Interview

We’ve all been there: You didn’t set out to have a bad interview. But somehow, the job interview that held so much hope went off the rails.

Now you’ve come out of the interview feeling sweaty, nervous, and likely angry with yourself.

Perhaps it was nerves that got the best of you and never really allowed you to catch your groove, or maybe it was the curve ball question that you did not expect, and from there, you never fully recovered.

Bad interviews happen, but like so much in life, it is less about the actual event and more about how you respond to it and reframe your perspective.

Here are six recommendations for what to do following a bad job interview:

Stay calm. Don’t panic.

It’s unlikely that one interview is going to be the dealbreaker of your career. Recognize that even if you had nailed the interview, you still may not have been offered the job. Also, realize that just because you think it went poorly doesn’t mean the interviewer thought so. Perhaps you actually did better than you think and you may still be moved along in the interview process. Remember, the answer is yes until the answer is no.

Tie up loose ends.

Use the post-interview thank you note to try to reset whatever went wrong in the interview. Don’t dwell on the issue, just craft a line or two to clarify a weak response or confusing comment you made. Keep your tone positive, your energy upbeat, and reinforce how much you want the job.

Reflect and reset.

Spend some time reflecting on what may have been the source of the problem in the interview and make a plan to overcome it next time. If interview anxiety is the problem, practice breathing exercises or meditation before going into the interview to get your head in the right place. Thorough interview preparation, from having a list of professional references at the ready, to developing answers to anticipated questions, to writing out your list of questions for the interviewer, will go a long way toward laying the foundation for a strong performance.

Nail the basics.

Doing research on the company and your interviewer, developing meaningful questions, and rehearsing your elevator pitch are among the leading strategies for a successful next interview. While you cannot anticipate every contingency that may arise, addressing the basics will improve both your level of confidence and performance for the next one.

Hold the belief that the right job for you is out there.

Have faith that your job is out there, and when the time comes, you will rise to the occasion. Perhaps you were not well-prepared for the interview because you were not really excited about the job or it is not a good alignment between your qualifications and the requirements of the job. Continue to develop clarity around your job targets and only apply for jobs that meet your “best fit” criteria.

Invest in yourself.

One bad interview is not uncommon, but if upon reflection, you determine that you have a pattern of ineffective interviewing, you may benefit from more support. Reach out to an interview coach to learn how to craft your career story in a more compelling way. AI-powered resources like LinkedIn’s Interview Preparation or programs like Riveter are free to use and can be great resources for enhancing your interviewing skills.

In the end, you may just have to chalk up a bad job interview to experience and accept that there are takeaways to be gained from every interview, no matter how poorly it went. You can learn from the things that did not go well and build a plan to improve your performance the next time. Despite virtual interviews, AI-driven practice tools, and access to “the most frequently asked interview questions” all over the Internet, people still hire people. Being intentional about making a connection with the interviewer and conveying a strong first impression can go a long way toward setting you up for interview success.

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