How To Learn From A Bad Interview

Estimated reading time ~ 2 min
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The interview component of your job search can be the most stressful part of the process. It can be an intense and anxiety-inducing time because it feels like your future depends on this moment. Sometimes, you can be uber-prepared and confident going into an interview, and yet, once it’s done, you can feel that somewhere, somehow it went horribly wrong. However, it’s possible that you can learn from this experience. Here are five important takeaways:

1. Write everything down.

Get yourself to a coffee shop right after your interview. Sit down, grab your notebook and pen, and begin documenting your experience. Start with your feelings and thoughts post-interview. How did you feel when you entered the office, during the interview, and when it was over? Can you pinpoint when you started feeling something was wrong? Was there an obvious turning point in the interview where you knew you screwed up?

Next, document all the questions that were asked. Think about your answers that you were unhappy with. This is a great approach if you are just starting your interview process. If there were questions you were unprepared for, now you’ll know for next time.

Finally, be brutally honest with yourself about your feelings towards the position and company. What was your mindset like going into the room? Were you truly interested in the job? Did you get enough sleep the night before? Being honest with yourself helps you to accept your responsibility in the process and give you insight into how to do better next time.

2. Talk to your tribe.

Seek out people you can trust. Share your job interview experience with them and see what they think. Perhaps they have a different perspective they can offer you that you never considered and give you honest feedback.

3. Send a thank you note.

Despite how you think the interview went, don’t skip this step. If you made a blunder (like calling the interviewer by the wrong name, not asking any questions or spilling your glass of water), take advantage of the thank-you note to recover from your mistake and provide clarification if you can. This may even be the opportunity to ask for another chance!

4. Remember your successes.

What did you do well during this particular interview? Think of the things you did leading up to and during the interview that you can be proud of. Write them down. And always remember: The fact that you got an interview is an accomplishment in and of itself.

5. Stay hopeful.

Resiliency is key at this stage. Don’t beat yourself up. There are so many factors that influence an interview that are beyond your control, so don’t go down a path of despair and self-doubt. Be extra gentle with yourself. Take the time to feel the disappointment, process what happened, mull it over, complain to your friends – then transition yourself into accepting what happened so you can let that interview go, and look forward to the next one, armed with everything you have learned through the process. Just like Nat King Cole says, “Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.”

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