Ask a Recruiter: How Can I Bounce Back From a Bad Interview and Land the Job?

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Jeni Lambertson217
Founder + CEO of the constellations

Want to know what recruiters are really thinking? In our Ask a Recruiter series, we invite you to take an exclusive look inside the mind of a real recruiter — Jeni Lambertson — to see how she approaches the hiring process.

Twice a month, Jeni will answer a question from one of our readers. If you have a question about finding the right job posting, emailing the right person, or landing yourself on a recruiter's desk, drop it in the comments.

Q:  How Can I Bounce Back From a Bad Interview and Land the Job?

Interviews are nerve-racking.  Sometimes no matter how much you have prepped and prepared, you can still leave a meeting feeling as though you underperformed, or failed to convey your capabilities adequately.  However, one lousy interview doesn't necessarily mean that you have ruined your chance at that particular job or that you are a "bad interviewer" generally.  There are measures you can take to ensure you learn from your mistakes and enter the next interview feeling confident and ready to shine. Here are three strategies for doing just that:

1. Be gracious.  

No matter how regretful your performance was, there's no reason to not write a thoughtful and well-worded note to the person who interviewed you. Bad interviews happen to everyone, but they're no excuse for bad manners.    

2. Reflect on what made it "bad."  

In my years working with women, I've often found that we are our harshest critics, and an interview we may have deemed a failure may not have been viewed the same way by hiring manager conducting it. Parse out precisely what you feel you could have done better, then fix it.  Had you done your research on both the job and the interviewer?  Did you arrive early?  Did you practice answering the often dreaded, "So tell me about yourself"?  Once you have reflected on what transpired, make sure you have a plan of attack for the next interview and enlist help if necessary.  Grab a friend and ask her to practice with you. The goal is to prepare so much that interviews feel less like a Q&A session and more like a conversation, so the hiring manager can get a sense for your skillset and your personality.   

3. Ask for a second chance.  

If the job you interviewed for was a dream job and your performance was more than a case of nerves getting the best of you, ask for a do-over. Recruiting is a long and challenging process, and if a hiring manager brought you in for an in-person interview, it was because they felt you had the potential to be an asset to the company.  Explain that you did not feel your performance was indicative of your skillset and expertise, and that you would love the chance to do it again.  Don't underestimate the importance of being able to reflect and own up to your mistakes.   

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Jeni Lambertson is the founder and CEO of the constellations, a female-first procurement service. She's passionate about bringing diversity to future-thinking companies while simultaneously doing her part to close the wage gap.