Dealing with interview ‘disasters’

If all goes to plan, you'll have avoided anything too stress-inducing happening in a job interview, thanks to diligent preparation. But should something unwanted happen, it doesn't always have to be the end of the world.

Here, we look at some of the ways to make the best of unfortunate moments that might come up during an interview. Despite our title, none of these have to be disasters!

The mobile ring

So you're sat there, impressing your interviewer about how well suited you are to a job of your dreams, when suddenly, a ring tone destroys the atmosphere. Of course we all know to turn our phones off pre-interview, but sometimes in a rush this can be forgotten. If you do find a call coming through or alarm going off mid interview and causing an unwanted noise, it's time to apologise profusely to your interviewer. Don't waste time giving an excuse for the oversight, simply stop the phone going off as soon as possible, turn your phone off to prevent a repeat of the issue, make clear how sorry you are, and move on.

The inaccurate facts

Having someone in an interview query the accuracy of a fact on your CV or covering letter can be incredibly awkward. But we all know never to put untruths on our CVs on purpose, so the chances are if someone seems misleading or wrong, it will be an oversight on your part. This won't reflect well on you – which is why extensive CV checking before you send an application is a must – but should someone spot an accidental error you should apologise for what has happened, and stress that you realise that you know your CV ought to have been better checked. If you show that you are genuinely concerned to see that a problem has occurred, the interviewer will be reassured that you take pride in the accuracy of your applications.

The unanswerable question

Interview questions are rarely designed to actually be too tough to answer, and especially with some pre-interview prep you shouldn't find any posers are past your abilities.

But every so often we all get tongue tied at interview. It can feel like, if you leave a few seconds before an answer, this will put the interviewer off you.

Taking everything at a reasonable pace is a good way to give yourself thinking time throughout. When a sizeable pause does occur, one way to fill it is to talk the interviewer through your thought process as you develop an answer.

You don't want to fill space with meaningless talk, but perhaps begin on a related topic you do have something to say about. For example, if someone says 'What is the hardest thing you did in your previous job?' and one thing doesn't spring to mind, you can summarise some things you did at work, saying how easy or difficult they were and why, and then, as you speak, think your way towards one example you think was especially tricky. This way, you won't ever having to pause for a long think or go off topic. 

Berkeley Scott is a specialist hospitality recruitment agency.