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At various points in your entrepreneurial career, you might want to earn some additional income while waiting for a startup to take off. When you do, you’ll need to go through a job interview or two.
But doesn’t it seem like the most important interviews are also the most likely to go south? It’s only natural because these are the times that anxiety and overthinking take the wheel.
You’re overprepared and maybe even overqualified, but then you open your mouth and trip over your words. You really wanted to stand out in this interview but let one mistake send you into a tailspin. Interview over.
Thankfully, you actually can recover from a job interview that’s going poorly.
Here are six techniques to help set that interview back on the right track.
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1. Acknowledge the Issue During the Interview
It doesn’t matter exactly what went wrong. If it’s bothering you, make a quick mention of what’s going on and why. Your interviewer understands that you’re human and you’re going to be nervous.
But if you don’t mention it, they could think this is your normal state. Remember that your interviewer probably doesn’t know you at all, so if you want to reset, tell them what’s going on.
Whether it’s a stammer, long pause, or awkward answer, acknowledging the issue will give you time to pause and reset.
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2. Take a Deep Breath
Oftentimes, the advice to take a deep breath is given figuratively. In this case, it’s more literal. If you’re experiencing anxiety, your heart rate is likely accelerated. Slow and deliberate breathing can actually slow that heart rate and lessen symptoms of anxiety.
After you acknowledge that you’re a bit nervous, ask for a minute to reset. During this time, take a deep breath in through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth. This doesn’t have to be an exaggerated movement. Then, if you feel you can take another moment, take a sip of water before you return your focus to the interview.
3. Recognize the Interviewer’s Style
Studies have shown that people are more likely to feel comfortable when you mirror their movements. And in an interview, this may translate to talking at the pace of the interviewer and maintaining their general tone. So if your interviewer isn’t particularly upbeat, try not to show up with an incredible amount of positive energy. It’s important to be yourself, but try to meet them somewhere in the middle.
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Mirroring someone is about tailoring your tone, gestures, and body language to be more approachable to them. It’s not about taking on their persona.
Always stay true to you, but do so in a way that’s closer to their vibe. Doing this will help the interviewer feel a connection with you, and it’ll be more likely that they’ll invite you back for a second interview.
4. Involve a Third Party and Request Another Interview
If you feel you messed up or didn’t get a fair shake, consider reaching out to a contact at the company or the recruiter who helped you land the interview. It’s a bit of a long shot, but if that person wants to help, they may be able to get you a second chance to make that first impression.
Talk to this person honestly about what happened and why you didn’t put your best foot forward. And more importantly, tell them why next time will be different. They’ll be more likely to stick their neck out for you if they believe you’ll make a better impression next time.
5. Refocus on Your Strengths
Even if you have a tendency to doubt yourself, you probably have one or two strengths that make you feel confident. These are things that you know you do well. If you find yourself struggling to make a good impression, find a way to bring the conversation back to your true strengths.
These are probably the strengths you highlighted as skills on a resume. In these moments, your true strengths will shine, and you’ll be much more comfortable. Landing a successful interview isn’t about controlling the conversation, but there are times when a gentle nudge can help.
6. Send a Thank You Note After the Interview
Whether you had a bad interview or not, sending a thank you note can help you stand out from the crowd of candidates vying for the same position. In today’s digital age, it’s rare that people send thank you notes anymore, so this may be your edge.
If you do feel the interview went badly, don’t address it here. Chances are good that your mistakes are replaying in your mind but not in theirs.
When you address a misstep, you’re refreshing their memory about something undesirable. Instead, use this chance to highlight your accomplishments and include anything you may have left out due to nerves.
Finally, Cut Yourself a Little Slack
Interviews can be tough on the nerves, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a zero-sum game. It’s okay to make mistakes. Your interviewer probably expects that you’ll be nervous. So go ahead and cut yourself some slack.
If you do get tripped up, you can recover. You’ll just need to reset your mental attitude and refocus on your personal strengths. Follow these tips to help reset that job interview that seems to be going poorly.