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9 Tricks To Turn the Tide For A Bad Job Interview

9 Tricks To Turn the Tide For A Bad Job Interview

What can be more nerve-wracking than a job interview? Even first dates don’t have such high stakes. You’re at an interview for a job you really want, or really need, and you can tell you’re floundering. The interviewer doesn’t seem impressed by you, or you keep putting your foot in your mouth when asked to explain why you left a previous job, or you can’t come up with any words at all. Don’t worry, it’s happened to all of us! These tips will help you learn how to turn the tide for a bad job interview.

1. Recover from a terrible answer by rephrasing it.

Your brain is going a million miles an hour, and you’re trying to focus on the interviewer so you can form an intelligent answer for each question. But sometimes your brain trips up and picks the wrong words, or you use a negative tone when talking about a past job. Don’t let a disaster answer hang in the air. As soon as you realize your mistake, pause and state that you want to clarify what you meant. Rephrase the answer in positive, intelligent terms and elaborate a bit more, so the interviewer sees you’re not just covering yourself, but actually giving a clarifying explanation.

2. Ask questions if the interviewer seems bored.

Interviewers take notes while you’re talking, but that’s definitely a flower doodle in the corner of the notepad, and it looks like they’re starting in on the rest of the landscape. Don’t keep talking while your interviewer spaces out. Make sure they’re engaged the entire time. Instead of the never-ending monologue you’re giving, start asking questions. Ask about the company, the specific positions, the duties each job will include. Not only will this pull the interviewer from their daydream, they’ll see that you’re actually interested in learning about the job.

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3. Change the topic.

The interviewer might find a subject you don’t know much about – maybe the specific lesson you never really understood in college, or a job duty you couldn’t really master at your last job. Don’t just sit back and admit you don’t know what you’re talking about. Change the topic to highlight your strengths and share your knowledge.

4. Deal with the claim that you’re under or over qualified.

If you’re over qualified for a job, you will be called out on it. Employers don’t want to hire someone who will leave for something better in a month. Stress why you’re taking a job you might be over qualified for: because it interests you, because you want to break into a new field, because you want to take on different responsibilities. Make every aspect sound positive.

And if you’re told you’re under qualified, never fear! Make it clear that you’re aware of what the job is asking for, so the employer won’t think you applied just to waste their time. Tell them you want hands-on experience and that you’re a quick, eager learner. Again, make each point seem positive.

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5. Ask for a short break.

If you’re really fumbling, don’t be afraid to ask for a bathroom break. Walking around a more open space will help get oxygen to your brain. Splash some cold water on your face, give yourself a pep talk in the mirror, and get back out there feeling refreshed.

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    6. Show how interested you are in the job.

    When all else seems to fail, just be honest – show the interviewer how interested you are in the job. Let your passion come out as you explain how much you’ve always wanted to work for this company, or how eager you are to get into a new field or a different position. Don’t be afraid to be the one showing how much you want it – this isn’t a first date, so you don’t have to play it cool or risk scaring someone away.

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    7. Email a note clarifying any problems.

    Sometimes you don’t think of a mistake until you’re replaying the interview in your mind for the fifteenth time. Don’t beat yourself up about something you can’t correct in person. When you email a thank you note after the interview (you do that, right? You should!), include a brief paragraph explaining what you feel like you messed up on. In a worst case scenario, the interviewer has already made up their mind, but you’ll feel better explaining yourself, and they might really respect that you came forward to clarify, instead of just shrugging it off as a lost cause.

    8. Request a second interview.

    Either in your thank you email or a phone call, don’t be afraid to ask for a second interview. Be honest and say you were nervous and felt like you flubbed the first one. First impressions will stick in people’s minds, but calling about a second interview will show how much you really want the job, and how much effort you’re already putting into it.

    9. Accept it as a funny story to tell.

    Ok, so this “trick” won’t really turn the tide for a bad job interview, but it can make you feel better after the fact! Keep in mind that this interview was an experience. Maybe it seemed awkward and intolerable at the time, but you made it through. Whether you get the job or not, you now have a funny story to tell. I know tons of people who have humorous stories about bad job interviews, either self-deprecatingly or at the expense of a bad interviewer. Everyone loves hearing these stories, because everyone can relate. Don’t beat yourself up about what you should have done – just start crafting your story!

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    Featured photo credit: Alan Cleaver via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on June 18, 2019

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

    It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

    The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

    With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

    5 Types of Leadership Styles

    I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

    The Democratic Style

    The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

    The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

      The Autocratic Style

      The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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      The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

      While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

        The Transformational Style

        Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

        Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

        Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

          The Transactional Style

          Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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          The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

          The Laissez-Faire Style

          The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

          In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

          Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

          You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

          Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

          The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

          Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

          I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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          In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

          What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

          Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

          1. Context Matters

          Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

          2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

          When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

          As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

          “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

          The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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          As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

          When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

          The Way Forward

          To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

          As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

          “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

          The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

          If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

          Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

          Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

          More About Leadership

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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