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Recovering from interview mistakes
March 2, 2014, 12:48 pm

Interview mistakes are not only embarrassing, they are potentially costly. Recovering can be tough ‒ but not impossible. Consider these ways to limit the damage:

Apologize: Owning up and uttering a genuine “please forgive me” can be quite disarming. It demonstrates character, and an interviewer may be impressed by that. After all, it will show that as an employee you will be honest and admit when you make a mistake as opposed to hiding it or making excuses.

Don’t dwell on the mistake: Apologize quickly and move on with answering the question. Do not apologize and then stop talking, because the mistake just lingers in the air. Dwelling on it, or any other fumble, will bring extra unneeded attention to the situation. Also, do not wait until after the interview to address the issue, it could be too late. Make a quick statement such as, “Let’s backtrack for a moment”, and then go on to provide a clearer statement..

Think on your feet: While panicking may be your gut reaction, remaining calm in the face of a mistake may allow you to salvage the situation. If you are running late, show you value the interviewer’s time with a call to inform, apologize and ask if the meeting can be rescheduled.  Or if you appear at an interview without your portfolio or list of references, try something on the lines of: “I don’t have my portfolio today, because I wanted to talk to you first about the specific skills and accomplishments that are most important to you. This way I can customize it to illustrate more effectively the sort of skills you are seeking.

Don’t assume it is too late: If you feel you made a bad impression, committed some grave error in judgment or offended an interviewer, one strategy is to address the problem in a thank-you note. But be sure to state the issue positively as opposed to simply reminding the interviewer of your gaffe. Write something similar to: ‘I would like to readdress the question you asked regarding ...’ Then, simply re-answer the question.

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