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How to Save an Interview Gone Wrong

How to Save an Interview Gone Wrong

Steve Berman | MonsterCollege

May 10, 2010

Everything was going so well. Your solid handshake was met with a warm smile from the hiring manager. The interview started off with some small talk that segued into some skillfully answered questions. You can already see what your desk is going to look like.

Then, as suddenly as a lightning strike, the interview takes a turn for the worse.

Whether it’s a question you weren’t prepared for or not-so-well-received answer it’s easy to tell when an interview has gone off course. And it’s quite possibly the most nerve-wracking, upsetting, desperate experience a job seeker can suffer.

Like Charles Sullenberger approaching the Hudson River, one can make the best of a bad situation, no matter how dire. However, saving a bad interview takes quick thinking and persistence. Are you up to the challenge?

Sticky Situation No. 1: Drawing a Blank

You studied the company’s website and memorized the answer to every common interview questioncommon interview question you could find. Then the unimaginable happens: you’re faced with a question you weren’t expecting. You can’t figure out what to say and the impending silence feels so awkward, you might as well be wearing nothing but your birthday suit. How do you fix this?

Solution: Focus on something you were prepared for.

While you don’t want to get in the habit of doing this, sometimes it pays to give a non-answer, especially when the alternative is a seemingly unending chasm of silence. Hey, politicians do this all the time. If the interviewer threw you for a loop with a question on how you handled a conflict with a coworker, change the subject to something semi-related that you did prepare for, like your collaborative skills on a challenging project where you excelled.

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