Mistakes Are Human — How to Redeem Yourself After One in An Interview

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k

We all make mistakes. If we’re lucky, they won’t have an enormous bearing on our futures — and often, that’s the case. But what if we make one in a high-stakes context like an interview?

First, don’t panic — it happens. Then, take these steps.

1. Apologize.

“Once, I called my interviewer by the wrong name after our hour-long conversation,” a Fairygodboss member wrote on the community feed. “I noticed immediately and said, ‘Wow! I was so excited about our conversation I completely slipped up, again, it was so nice to meet you *insert name here*.’ She must’ve liked that I fixed the mistake because I was called back for another interview and got the job!”

Whatever the error, the best thing to do is simply apologize. Give a quick explanation — no more or less than is appropriate for the context — and try to move on. The point is, you need to own up to what you did, whether you showed up a few minutes late or misread the directions. 

2. Don’t make excuses.

Explanations are different from excuses. In many cases, an apology demands a brief explanation — if you’re stuck in traffic, for example, call the interviewer and say so — but don’t complain about annoying traffic patterns are in the city. Excuses will only make the hiring manager think that you don’t take responsibility for your mistakes, when you’re trying to impress them with your sense of responsibility.

3. Know when to let it go.

Sometimes, mistakes are so minor the interviewer doesn’t even notice — and drawing attention to them will only make it worse for you. Interviewers have been on both sides of the table, and they know that in a pressure-filled situation like a job interview for a position you really want, mistakes are only human. So, don’t focus on a minor problem. If it doesn’t seem like the interviewer is bothered, then simply let it go.

4. Give yourself a break.

Many of the anxiety-ridden among us rehash scenarios like interviews in our minds for hours. Should we have smiled at this time? Did we express ourselves correctly? Did we present ourselves in the best light?

But give yourself a break. What’s done is done, and playing out the conversation over and over again in your mind will only drive you crazy.

5. Use it as a learning experience.

Whether you can salvage the interview after a mistake or not, you can always use it as an experience for learning and growing. Think about what went wrong and why (again, without perseverating), and come up with a plan for what to do next time. Then, you’ll know not to repeat the same error in the future.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What's your no. 1 piece of advice for overcoming a mistake in the interview process? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!