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How to Recover from a Bad Interview

interview recover

We’ve all had ‘em: confusing, off kilter, and often soul-crushing job interviews that make you want to curl up in a giant pair of sweatpants with a bottle of pinot noir and watch reruns of the Mindy Project for days on end.

And forget it: the thought of going on another job interview anytime soon just ain’t gonna happen.

But alas, if you want to extricate yourself from your current situation- whether that’s a job you really can’t stand or a job that just doesn’t do it for you anymore – you’re going to have to. So what are some things you can do to recover from a bad interview?

Re-characterize The Experience: Instead of, “Wow, I did so terribly” or “The pre-screener totally led me astray and I was blindsided,” can you characterize the experience as just that- an experience? What did you take away from the interview? Maybe there was a certain question or segment of questions that stumped you or got you tongue-tied, and you need more clarity on those answers for next time. What did you learn about yourself? Maybe it’s not the type of environment or work culture for you. Instead of thinking about how crappy it was, try for just a few minutes to think about what you learned and see how that feels.

Avoid Laying Blame: Mostly on yourself. Not every job opportunity or place of employment is meant for you, and vice versa. Falling into the trap of thinking you’re a failure is not only going to keep you stuck, but it’s also not true. I went on an interview that was almost comical in its “not right for me-ness” and I was so disappointed when I wasn’t chosen that I couldn’t see that it was simply not a match. It set me back for weeks while I petulantly refused to interview more. It was a real good use of time, man (sarcasm). So I repeat here: “Do Not Blame Yourself.” There are hundreds or thousands of companies out there in your field, and there are just as many different cultures, hiring managers, etc.

Also, you may have gone for something above your current skill set. That’s awesome! Learn from that experience. Get feedback from the interviewer if possible, on what else you’d need to learn more of to be hired for such a position. Then go figure out how to get those skills (night classes, workshops, on the job training at your current job, books, etc).

Keep Up Your Job Search: Go on an interview again as soon as possible to get the bad taste out of your mouth. Obviously going on an interview isn’t all up to you, as an employer has to see your application and want to interview you. So keep your options open, keep applying, and as soon as you get a relevant bite whose job description gets you jazzed up (ie, don’t just apply to any old thing to get another interview under your belt), go on the interview. It’s the equivalent of ripping the Band-Aid off.

Informational Interview Cheat Sheet

Go on An Informational Interview and/or Practice: Quick, go on and do it. Maybe you’re not ready to go on a formal interview despite my pleas above or maybe it will just take you a bit of time to get called in for one. So, in the meantime, schedule an informational interview with someone you know at another company in your field. Getting out there in an interview-y (official term) environment will get you acclimated again and ready yourself for the real deal.

Or, ask a friend, mentor, colleague, parent, spouse, significant other, sibling, etc to mock interview you. Give them the questions, especially any that trip you up or you know will be asked for an interview in your field, and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

These are just a few ideas to get you unstuck and moving after a traumatizing, pinot noir inducing interview experience. What’s worked for you and why? Leave a comment in the comments section below and let us know!

About the Author

Jill Ozovek is a certified career coach in New York City. Her practice focuses on helping Millennial and mid-career women find and develop careers that align with their passions. For more info on your own career change and Jill’s Career Change Kitchen course, click here.