How to Learn From a Failed Job Interview
Even highly qualified candidates can inadvertently blow an interview due to nervousness or inexperience. Although disappointing, failed interviews provide an excellent opportunity to learn from mistakes and land an even better job.
You can improve your interviewing skills by performing an autopsy of the failed interview. Objectively evaluate your interviewing strengths and weaknesses and decide what you will do differently next time to stand out from the competition in a good way.
The startup technologists at Hatchpad say that the surest way of bombing an interview is by being rude, dressing inappropriately, or giving wrong answers to technical questions. Remember that you’re being judged from the moment you step foot in the door. First impressions matter, and a cold, wet-noodle handshake can be hard to overcome.
Sometimes an interview starts out strong but slowly goes downhill. A hiring manager might suddenly lose interest if the job applicant doesn’t have the skills implied on the resume or cover letter. Other deal-breakers include excessive fidgeting, criticizing your former boss, or dodging the questions.
Don’t waste time berating yourself if an interview didn’t go well. Objectively analyze the experience without judgment. Make a list of what went well and where there was room for improvement. Use this information to set goals for improving your interviewing skills. Perhaps you didn’t make enough eye contact, or maybe you couldn’t think of any examples that demonstrated your problem-solving skills. Also, critique your appearance and nonverbal communication to ensure you’re putting your best self forward and sending a consistent message.
The Indeed Career Guide recommends asking the interviewer for feedback after a failed interview. Don’t assume you know why you didn’t get the job. A recruiter can offer invaluable tips on adjustments you might make to become a more competitive candidate. It may be something as simple as smiling more or slowing down when you speak.
When reaching out to the interviewer, use the proper tone so that you don’t come across as upset or disgruntled. Acknowledge that you could have done better in the interview. Indeed suggests thanking the employer for the interview and explaining your desire to learn from the experience before asking for advice on how to improve going forward.
Job applicants often underestimate the importance of doing their homework prior to a job interview. If you embarrassed yourself by giving weak answers to standard questions related to why you want to work for the company, set aside plenty of time to prepare for future interviews. Employers look for job applicants who reviewed the company’s website and feel they’re a good fit after doing some research. Asking a question like “So what does your company do exactly?” suggests you’re not seriously interested in the job and lack initiative.
Unless a family friend or rich uncle hands you a job, you’ll need to exert considerable effort looking for suitable work. That starts with researching the company, closely studying the job description, and writing a cover letter that explains what you can do for the employer. To avoid another failed interview, be prepared to elaborate on the skills you possess that directly relate to the essential functions of the job you’re seeking.
Hiring managers covet cutting-edge skills, but they also need professionals who can function well in today’s team environment. They look for red flags that a candidate may have trouble getting along with coworkers. For example, the Atlanta Laboratory for Learning indicates that failed interviews result when an otherwise qualified candidate comes across as arrogant, pompous, conceited or a know-it-all. Inability to communicate is another bad sign, even if the applicant looks stellar on paper.
If you’re getting plenty of interviews but no job offers, it may be time to take a hard look at what you might be saying or doing that’s working against you. For example, your long-winded attempts to impress the employer may be perceived as excessive bragging. You may find it helpful to seek the counsel of a trusted friend or former teacher who could give you some candid advice on how you can make a better impression when interviewing.
Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master’s in counseling and student affairs from Minnesota State Mankato. Helping students succeed has been her passion while serving in many areas of student affairs and adjunct teaching. Currently she is a dean of students at a large, public university. Dr. Dpwd’s writing experience includes published research, training materials and hundreds of practical online articles.