How to handle a bad interview

Even if you don't get the job, most interviews are a positive experience while they're happening and afterwards.

They allow you to consider and talk about yourself and your professional life in a satisfying way.

When they go well, it can be a mood booster – even if later on it turns out someone else beat you to the job.

But sometimes interviews – whether for hospitality jobs or another line of work – can go badly. In these situations, how would you react?

Don't let it get to you

If your interview seems to be going off the rails, it could be for a variety of reasons.

Perhaps you've just faced a run of two questions that you really struggled to answer and weren't expecting, for example.

Maybe it's something even less in your control – like the interviewer seeming distracted, or over-intimidating and not encouraging.

We often place our emphasis when it comes to advice on what the interviewee should act like, but that doesn't mean everyone who ever conducts an interview is always in a great place to do so.

Heavy workload, poor training and, sadly, the fact that they may already have found someone they've pretty much decided is getting the role you're trying-out for, can all play a part in presenting you with an interviewer who doesn't seem to be playing their part in the meeting quite as they should.

Whatever it is that leads to you getting a feeling of foreboding in an interview – the best action is normally to keep going and redouble your efforts.

It can knock us back when things are not going well: the confidence we've been trying to project for the interview can ebb away.

Don't let that happen. Keep up your best face. This is one of the reasons why preparation is important. When you're really sure of what you have to say, it's less likely some little issues you weren't prepared for will derail your whole performance.

Think about it – but not too much

It's frustrating if an experience you were placing a lot of hope on goes badly. You'll probably feel worse if this was a job you really wanted.

Keep in mind that, if you think you've 'failed' the interview because it went badly, you may be right – but not necessarily. Lots of people have come away from an interview with a bad feeling, only to find out pretty quickly that they made a better impression than they thought.

You'll probably want to vent, and that's fine – maybe you'll feel better if you moan to your friend about what happened, although remember the above, it may still all come good!

Focus on things about the experience you can actually learn from. If it's that you were asked questions you didn't know the answer to, well, make sure you know them next time if they might come up again!

If you were thrown by the behaviour of the interviewer, consider ways that you could deal with the same thing if it came up in a future interview.

No one wants to go to too many interviews before they get an actual job, but one advantage people who have been to a lot of unsuccessful interviews have is that they've seen a lot more meetings of this sort first hand. They may well be able to boost their interview performance as a result.  

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