Great job. Shame about the interview.

There are a trillion and three little ways to cock up in an interview and the chances are you won’t do anything too dire. That doesn’t mean you’re most likely to get the job. You might be the person interviewed just after the one who got hired – because there wasn’t enough time to cancel. Or worse, you might be the person interviewed to prove the person who got hired just before you was right. That interview is never going to go right for you. But there are a few common boo-boos. Here’s what to do if you make one.

Using the words, I hate, before anything is not smart in any first meeting. But let’s say you have expressed your unbridled loathing for gambling and it turns out you were being considered for the Sportsbet account. Yes, you have blown that job. But you can try to keep the door ajar with a short email that acknowledges your blunder then states your key assets should another position come up. It’s ok to ask for a second chance. Don’t gush and don’t beg.

Or maybe nerves have turned the lights off in your brain and when you scramble around in the dark to find good words for your mouth to say, you can’t. Tell your interviewer you’re nervous. But tell him in a matter-of-fact way that says, “I’m human and I can deal with this.” He (or she) is human too and human is really likeable trait. This is not the time to curl up in a ball on the floor crying. There is never a good time to crack under pressure at work.

You didn’t know the company has an office in Adelaide? You’re an idiot. Next time (yes, there may have to be a next time) do your homework. Meanwhile, don’t make yourself look even less prepared by fumbling with a slippery excuse. But do stay alert for an opportunity to show your interviewer what you do know about the company, or its business. And reach deep into your brain for something noteworthy. You want it to be the thing remembered after you leave.

O-oh. You came across as desperate. Or indifferent. Or full of yourself. Or beige. Let it go now. Leave the building. Find a quiet place to sit. Write an email that 1. thanks him or her for the interview, 2. outlines your real attitude in no more than two sentences, and 3. states your interest in the company and the job. Re-read it twice. Send it. If less than an hour has passed since your interview ended, good.

Lastly, even if you think you did something (or some things) that were horrible, follow up with a thank you. You don’t have to pretend it went well. You just have to stop the bridge from burning down completely. One option is it went better than you think. The other is that your professionalism will be noted.

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