Let me preface: All interview experience is valuable interview experience. The controversy begins with the idea that bad interviews are actually more essential for individuals than good interviews, as this is often so hard to believe. It is difficult to imagine that bad interview experiences are actually incredibly beneficial because of how they can make us feel unqualified or undeserving of a particular role.
We, as candidates, are at risk of over-analyzing every possible mistake we made, such as stumbling over a word or phrase or getting stuck on a difficult question. The reality is that bad interviews are identified by a combination of components and can also propel you to know more for future interviews, therefore benefiting you more than a “good” interview in the long run. Bad interviews can be caused by a lack of preparation on your part, the interviewer’s own mistakes, expecting different questions, or just a clash between personality styles. The crucial thing to remember? Reflecting on your bad interviews can help you ace more in the future, so don’t let it get you down. Here are some steps to deal with bad interviews and how to bounce back in the future.
- First, everybody has different definitions of “bad.” So make sure to identify where you personally draw the line between an acceptable interview and a bad experience. For example, for some individuals, it may be too much awkward silence during the interview, or a lack of feedback after you answer your questions. In some cases, and I’ve had this happen to me, the employer may directly tell you or hint that they are not going to continue your candidacy during or after the interview. Whatever your definition of “bad” is, make sure to watch out for the moment when an interview transcends that line. Perhaps identify the moment or question when it starts to go downhill or whether it feels “bad” from the start. This essential step will help you later.
- Try to save it. Even if it’s unbearable and you want to leave or, if it’s virtual, fake losing internet connection, try to keep it going. By remaining pleasant, professional, and keeping a smile on your face, you can make sure that you minimize your fault in the interview going badly and also make the experience reflect well on you. Sometimes, it can absolutely be the interviewer’s fault and employers are not immune to coming off as rude or uninterested, so just make sure that you continue trying even if you’re sure that you will no longer be in the running for that role.
- Directly after the interview, allow yourself to feel disappointed or angry at how the experience went, but don’t dwell on it. Call someone you trust and talk about it. Maybe discuss how you could’ve done better or whether you’re still interested in that particular employer or not. Make sure that this initial step of venting is productive and doesn’t just bash the entire organization that you once wanted to be a part of. Remember, it could’ve been an issue between you and only one of the individuals representing a big company, so maybe it would make sense to apply and try again!
- Look back on the good interviews you’ve had. Try to ask questions like “What worked?” and “What didn’t?” to separate strengths from weaknesses in interviews. Was your nervousness a contributing factor in you forgetting an answer? If so, the experience of a really bad interview could even make you feel better, in an “it can only go up from here” kind-of-way. Additionally, although it’s always recommended to follow-up with every interviewer you have, if you feel disrespected or offended and are sure you no longer want to pursue that opportunity, you don’t have to send that follow-up email. Another bonus of having a bad interview is that it may inspire and motivate you to improve and apply for more opportunities!
- Continue going through the interviewing process and applying to jobs until you accept an offer. You will have bad and good experiences, but bad experiences regarding interviews are what can help you think and become a better version of you! Use your reflections and notes to bring you to new interview opportunities and be grateful for the interviewing opportunities that you have been invited to because they’re all important for your professional growth!