How to Recover When You Drop the Ball in a Job Interview

Everyone makes mistakes, but no one wants to make a mistake in a job interview.  Luckily, few job-interview mistakes will destroy your chances of recovering and making an overall good impression.  In fact, being able to recover gracefully when you drop the ball in a job interview can help improve your overall impression: hiring managers will see that you’re able to recognize your mistake, maintain perspective, and keep moving forward.

Here are some tips for recovering when you drop the ball during a job interview:

1. Running late?  Here’s how to save face

Running late is a tough mistake from which to recover, because it creates a negative impression about you before you’ve even officially “met” the interviewer.  But you can recover from this one, especially in any situation in which running late isn’t your fault.  The moment you realize you’re going to be late, call the interviewer and let him or her know what’s going on.  Give a time estimate: “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”  When you keep people up to date when things go wrong, you demonstrate that you care about their time and you’re proactive about fixing mistakes.

2. Practice the art of the apology

Misspeaking or getting tongue-tied during an interview can happen to anyone.  Sometimes, however, it’s better to acknowledge a mistake and apologize for it rather than pretending it didn’t happen.  Take a deep breath, apologize, and start over: “I’m sorry, that came out wrong.  What I mean is….”

3. Decide to be okay with silence

Many interviewees make a blunder during an interview when they let their nerves get the best of them.  Talking merely to fill silence might feel calming, but it doesn’t help you make a focused, positive impression, and it increases the chances that you’ll say something you didn’t mean.  Be willing to leave pauses in the conversation to take time to think or to give the interviewer time to read or think.

4. Laugh at your mistakes

Not all mistakes are funny – but many of them are.  Instead of assuming that any mistake ruins an interview, be willing to laugh at misspoken words or minor misunderstandings of questions asked by the interviewer.  People are put at ease by those who can laugh at themselves, and you’ll help relax yourself as well.  And if laughter doesn’t seem like an appropriate response, you can always offer an apology instead.

At Marquee Staffing, our experienced recruiters can help you prepare for interviews with companies that offer a great career and cultural “fit.”  Contact us today to learn more about southern California employment opportunities.

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