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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 August 20, 2019

    How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

    How to Find New Growth Opportunities at Work

    Career advancement is an enticement that today’s companies use to lure job candidates. But to truly uncover growth opportunities within a company, it’s up to you to take the initiative to move up.

    You can’t rely on recruiter promises that your company will largely hire from within. Even assurances you heard from your direct supervisor during the interviewing process may not pan out. But if you begin a job knowing that you’re ultimately responsible for getting yourself noticed, you will be starting one step ahead.

    Accomplished entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman said,

    “If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.”

    It’s important to recognize that taking charge of your own career advancement, and then mapping out the steps you need to succeed, is key to moving forward on your trajectory.

    Make a Point of Positioning Yourself as a Rising Star

    As an employee looking for growth opportunities within your current company, you have many avenues to position yourself as a rising star.

    As an insider, you’re able to glean insights on company strategies and apply your expertise where it’s most needed. Scout out any skills gaps, then make a point to acquire and apply them. And, when you have creative ideas to offer, make it your mission to gain the ear of those in the organization who can put your ideas to the test.

    Valiant shows of commitment and enterprise make managers perk up and take notice, keeping you ahead of both internal and external competitors.

    Employ these other useful tips to let your rising star qualities shine:

    1. Promote Your Successes to Your Higher-Ups

    When your boss casually asks how you’re doing, use this valuable moment to position yourself as indispensable: “I’m floating on clouds because three clients have already commented on how well they like my redesign of the company website.”

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    Tell your supervisors about any and all successes. Securing a new contract or signing a new customer should be a cause for celebration. Be sure to let your bosses know.

    2. Cultivate Excellent Listening Skills

    Listen well, and ask great questions. Realize that people love to talk about themselves.

    But if you’re a superb listener, others will confide in you, and you’ll learn from what they share. You may even find out something valuable about your own prospects in the company.

    If others view you as even-minded and thoughtful, they’ll respect your ideas and, in turn, listen to what you have to say.

    Check out these important listening skills: 13 Powerful Listening Skills to Improve Your Life at Work and at Home

    3. Go to All Office Networking Events

    Never skip the office Christmas party, your coworker’s retirement party, or any office birthday parties, wedding showers, or congratulatory parties for colleagues.

    If others see you as a team player, it will help you rise in your company. These on-site parties will also help you mingle with co-workers whom you might not ordinarily have the chance to see. For special points, help organize one or two of these get-togethers.

    Take the Extra Step to Show Your Value to the Company

    Managers and HR staff know that it can be less risky – and a lot less costly — to promote from within. As internal staff, you likely have a good grasp of the authority structure and talent pool in the company, and know how to best navigate these networks in achieving both the company’s goals and your own.

    The late Nobel-Prize winning economist, Gary Becker, coined the term “firm-specific,” which describes the unique skills required to excel in an individual organization. You, as a current employee, have likely tapped into these specific skills, while external hires may take a year or more to master their nuances.

    Know that your experience within the company already provides value, then find ways to add even more value, using these tips:

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    4. Show Initiative

    Commit yourself to whatever task you’re given, and make a point of going above and beyond.

    Position yourself so that you’re ready to take on any growth opportunities that present themselves. If you believe you have skills that have gone untapped, find a manager who will give you a chance to prove your worth.

    Accept any stretch assignment that showcases your readiness for advancement. Stay late, and arrive early. Half of getting the best assignments is sticking around long enough to receive them.

    5. Set Yourself Apart by Staying up on Everything There Is to Know About Your Company and Its Competitors

    Subscribe to and read the online trade journals. Become an active member in your industry’s network of professionals. Go to industry conferences, and learn your competitors’ strategies.

    Be the on-the-ground eyes and ears for your organization to stay on top of industry trends.

    6. Go to Every Company Meeting Prepared and Ready to Learn

    A lot of workers feel meetings are an utter waste of time. They’re not, though, because they provide face-time with higher-ups and those in a position to give you the growth opportunities you need.

    Go with the intention of absorbing information and using it to your advantage — including the goals and work styles of your superiors. Respect the agenda, listen more than you speak, and never beleaguer a point.

    Accelerate Your Career Growth Opportunities

    A recent study found that the five predictors of employees with executive potential were: the right motivation, curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. These qualities help you stand out, but it’s also important to establish a track record of success and to not appear to be over-reaching in your drive to move up in your company.

    Try to see yourself from your boss’s position and evaluate your promote-ability.

    Do you display a passion and commitment toward meeting the collective goals of the company? Do you have a motivating influence with team members and show insight and excellence in all your work?

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    These qualities will place you front and center when growth opportunities arise.

    Use these strategic tips to escalate your opportunities for growth:

    7. Find a Mentor

    With mentorship programs fast disappearing, this isn’t always easy. But you need to look for someone in the company who has been promoted several times and who also cares about your progress.

    Maybe it’s the person who recommended you for the job. Or maybe it’s your direct supervisor. It could even be someone across the hall or in a completely different department.

    Talk to her or him about growth opportunities within your company. Maybe she or he can recommend you for a promotion.

    Not sure how to find the right mentor? Here’s How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed.

    8. Map out Your Own Growth Opportunity Chart

    After you’ve worked at the company for a few months, work out a realistic growth chart for your own development. This should be a reasonable, practical chart — not a pie-in-the-sky wish list of demands.

    What’s reasonable? Do you think being promoted within two years is reasonable? What about raises? Try to inform your own growth chart with what you’ve heard about other workers’ raises and promotions.

    Once you’ve rigorously charted a realistic path for your personal development within the company, try to talk to your mentor about it.

    Keep refining your chart until it seems to work with your skills and proven talents. Then, arrange a time to discuss it with your boss.

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    You may want to time the discussion around the time of your performance review. Then your boss can weigh in with what he feels is reasonable, too.

    9. Set Your Professional Bar High

    Research shows that more than two-thirds of workers are just putting in their time. But through your active engagement in the organization and commitment to giving your best, you can provide the contrast against others giving lackluster performances.

    Cultivate the hard skills that keep you on the cutting edge of your profession, while also refining your soft skills. These are the attributes that make you better at embracing diverse perspectives, engendering trust, and harnessing the power of synergy.

    Even if you have an unquestionably left-brain career — a financial analyst or biotechnical engineer, for example — you’re always better off when you can form kind, courteous, quality relationships with colleagues.

    Let integrity be the cornerstone of all your interactions with clients and co-workers.

    The Bottom Line

    Growth opportunities are available for those willing to purposely and adeptly manage their own professional growth. As the old adage says,

    “Half of life is showing up.”

    The other half is sticking around so that when your boss is looking for someone to take on a more significant role, you are among the first who come to mind.

    Remember, your career is your business!

    More About Continuous Growth

    Featured photo credit: Zach Lucero via unsplash.com

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