It is perfectly normal to be nervous at a job interview. It’s difficult to come off as composed and professional when the interview process can make you feel just the opposite.
You can often sense when an interview starts to point in the wrong direction. Maybe a challenging question throws you for a loop. Or, you say something you wish you hadn’t. Once an interview starts to go south, it can be tricky to recover. But, it’s not at all impossible. So, if your next job interview starts to feel like it’s going off the rails, try one of these things to help you get back on track.
1. Take a breath and take a beat.
It’s fairly common for people to talk too fast, or just a little too much, when they’re feeling nervous. Other people shut down verbally when they feel put on the spot. Or, they mumble or talk too softly. So, if you start to notice that the quality of your speech is starting to deteriorate during your interview, pause. Simply take a deep breath before beginning again. It’s likely that you’ll be more composed.
2. Stay positive.
The attitude and energy you bring to an interview is so important. It can be challenging to stay positive when an interview is going poorly, but it is absolutely essential. You can show real resilience by staying confident and upbeat through challenging parts of an interview. It could actually help demonstrate your capabilities.
3. Don’t be afraid to rephrase or explain.
Don’t hesitate to go back and clarify something that you said if you realize that you took a wrong turn earlier in the conversation.
“You have the opportunity to create segues and add depth to a prior answer,” Lynn Taylor, an author and workplace expert, told Business Insider. “For instance, even though the interviewer has moved onto the next question, you’re entitled to say, ‘If I may, I’d like to clarify something on that last question …’ Pause, and then give your input.”
4. Ask for clarification.
The folks who are interviewing you don’t expect you to know everything. In fact, they might even gain respect you more if you demonstrate that you’re willing to admit you have something to learn. So, don’t hesitate to ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question you’re asked during your interview. Don’t be self-conscious or apologetic about it. There is nothing wrong with needing more information. It’s a lot better than verbally stumbling around while pretending to understand.
Hiring managers don't expect you to know everything, so don't hesitate to ask for clarification.
5. Use a thank-you note to clarify a point.
Although it might sound old-fashioned, it’s still a really good idea to send a thank-you note after an interview. And, in the context of an interview that didn’t go so swimmingly, it’s even more important. A thank-you note gives you the opportunity to clarify a point or a misstep that you didn’t realize you’d made until after the dust had settled. Be sure to thank the interviewers for their time, and explain whatever it is you’d like to clarify.Thank-you notes give you the chance to share your ideas in writing, at your own pace.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you ever recovered from an interview that was heading in the wrong direction? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.