What to do if you bomb a job interview? First, take a breath, maybe it’s not as bad as you think. Or maybe it is.
Not every job interview is going to go as planned. Sometimes you’re not going to be at your best. If you think you bombed one, what can you do?
First off, know that it might not be as bad as you think. One of the soundest pieces of wisdom I ever heard is “You’re never as good as you want to be or as bad as you think you are.” Still, maybe you’re right and you totally tanked it. Now what? There may not be much you can dom but there are a few steps you can take.
Here are five of them.
1. Send a follow up.
Send a note to the interviewer thanking them for their time. This is standard and should be expected after every interview. The thank you note is a must. There are those who disagree with this, and even a small number who are put off by a thank you note, but there are absolutely more people out there who appreciate polite gestures than who don’t. I would err on the side of good manners here (and always). It’s possible that the interviewer actually thought you were great and you’re worried for nothing. And if they already dismissed you as a candidate, following up isn’t going to make things worse.
2. Tell them you don’t think you represented yourself as well as you could have.
It’s possible that the interviewer actually thought you were great and you’re worried for nothing. But if you really bombed the interview as bad as you think you did, you probably can’t make things much worse. So, you might as well go for it. Say in your follow up that you don’t think you were at your best in the interview because you were nervous and excited about the position, or something like that. Don’t make it too long or too desperate – that will frighten them off even more. Be simple and to the point.
3. Reiterate your interest in the position and the reasons why you’re a good fit.
State that you are still interested and briefly outline why you think you’re the right person for the job. If there is a particular skill or qualification that you don’t feel you adequately represented, say so and explain why.
4. Ask for another chance.
Ask the interviewer if they would be open to another short conversation. The worst thing they can say is no. Again, it’s possible that the interviewer thought you were great. And if they already dismissed you as a candidate, asking for another chat can’t make things worse. They weren’t going to hire you anyway. And there is a small chance it will make things better.
5. Move on and learn from your mistakes.
Take note of where you went wrong and figure out how to avoid the same mistake in the future. If you didn’t have a prepared answer or story, for example, have one prepped next time. Then move on and don’t beat yourself up over it. You’ve done your best, and you have to get on with your life and the next job application. There’s no point in dwelling on what you can’t change.