Trying to persuade a total stranger to hire you is one of the most stressful process for the best of us—and one mistake can make the whole experience feel like a total nightmare.
People tend to forget one vital information—We are humans and thus, we are prone to making mistakes
1. You Malign Your Previous Employer
Oops! You probably didn’t plan on letting that piece of information slip through, or you did not mean for it to sound in a belittling way. For instance, the question asked was, “Can you tell me about a time you showed leadership at work?” And somehow the story went from a great example to you making a jab at your old boss who never showed up to meetings on time.
If you catch yourself towing this line, take a deep breath, apologize for phrasing it the way you did, and clarify.
It’s as simple as saying, “Whoops, did not mean to take the story there. What I meant to say was that…”
In the future, wrap up your answer up by being extra positive and putting the focus back on your actions—and not on your former manager’s.
2. You Forget the Word for Something
In my opinion, this is one of the most embarrassing situations during an interview. You go ‘oh no, what’s the name of that stock again?’ you ponder on how to pronounce that one word? Being nervous during an interview can sometimes result in you completely blanking.
Quick word of advice, don’t try to make something up if you’re uncertain. Instead, work around the problem by simply being honest.
Try this: “I am sorry, I’m completely blanking on the name of that accounting tool—which is funny because I work on it every day. But what’s more important than the name is that it helped us hit our monthly goals faster than ever.”
By focusing on what’s important (and what’s important is rarely the name), you’re distracting the hiring manager from your brain lapse.
In the future, make a cheat sheet on your phone or your notepad with any important terms that you think will come up in the interview, and take a look at it a few minutes before you walk in.
3. You Used a Swear Word
This is a rule of thumb; never ever swear during an interview, I am sure you know that. But sometimes, when you get super excited, you let one slip out. While you can’t ignore it, you also shouldn’t let it bring the interview to a screeching halt.
Instead, be honest and address the issue immediately, say something like: “Sorry, I get so excited about Project A that I sometimes let my emotions get ahead of me. It’s just that when we saw the results…”
Like forgetting an important name, the key here is to swivel and re-focus on your accomplishments and achievements.
In the future, the moment you find yourself getting really excited, take a deep breath and slow down. You’re less likely to say something regrettable if you’re speaking more slowly.
4. A Question Threw You Off Balance
It doesn’t really matter how prepared you are for an interview, there’s always going to be one question that throws you off-balance. And chances are the interviewer knew it was a tricky one.
So, by all means, take your time before answering. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “That’s a great question—let me think about it” or “Do you mind if I take a second to think that through?” taking a few moments to compile your thoughts shows that you’re taking the interview process seriously and want to give the best possible response.
Remember: An interview’s not a timed test.
5. Your Phone Surprises You
Ok, so you thought you turned it off but somehow, the phone is miraculously on, and a call comes in during the interview. Whatever you do, whoever the caller is, don’t answer it. But also don’t ignore it—especially if your settings dictate that it will keep buzzing until you acknowledge it. Just apologize for the interruption, turn it to silent, put it back in your bag, and carry on.
In the future, turn it off. Double check that it’s off. Maybe triple check, just for good measure.
At one point or the other, you might make one or more of these mistakes and it is going to eat you up inside, but honestly, you’re not the first—and you definitely won’t be the last. The most important thing is to give yourself a break and remember that not every interview is going to go completely smoothly.
And, if you can handle it like a champion, there’s no reason that one mistake should affect your chances at getting the job. Who knows, maybe the quick recovery is what gets you to the next round.
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