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Interview Faux Pas (And How to Save Them)

Posted on 22nd November 2017 by Katrina Docherty

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No matter how you try to get everything right during a job interview, unforeseen hiccups can still occur. The question is, how can you recover when embarrassing mistakes threaten your success? The following tips can help you save the day.


You’re late

Uh oh, you missed the train, your car broke down, or your alarm failed to go off. Now you might as well have the word ‘tardy’ stuck on your forehead. You may imagine the game’s over, but don’t bow out just yet.

As soon as you realize you’re running a few minutes late, call and apologize. Letting the interviewer know you recognize your gaffe and are trying to make amends will be helpful. You may be asked to reschedule, so have a date and time in mind. If your interview goes ahead, say sorry again when you arrive and be honest about why you are late.


Wardrobe malfunction

Picture this; you grab a coffee while waiting for your interview and accidentally spill the hot brown liquid down the front of your outfit, or worse, in your lap. There’s no time to run to a clothing store for replacement garb, so you’ve got to enter the interview room with the stain showing. What can you do?

The fact you’re drenched in coffee doesn’t matter as much as how you handle the situation. Now’s your chance to reveal how calm and confident you are by maintaining your cool. Don’t try to pretend nothing’s amiss. Instead, smile, shake hands with the interviewer and say “I like the company coffee so much I’m now wearing it.”

The good news is that the person interviewing you is likely to empathize with you. Everyone makes mistakes, and yours may endear you to your potential new boss rather than be seen as unforgivable. As long as you don’t make a big deal out of the situation, no one else will either.


You’re tongue-tied

If nerves get the better of you and your mind goes blank, take deep breaths. Also, uncross your arms and legs and adopt a relaxed, although not laidback, posture. When your body unwinds, your mind follows suit, so you should soon find your words. 

Also read…

Can’t think of an answer to a question? Say the query deserves a thoughtful answer, and you would like to respond later when you’ve had more time. If you remain stuck, imagine how an expert you admire might reply and do so in a similar manner.


You say something silly

What if you inadvertently say something imprudent? Mentioning you hate hard work or see the job in question as a stop gap until you find something better won’t go down well. Should such unfortunate words spill from your mouth, explain your sense of humor was misguided and retell the scenario differently. Doing so may or may not help you recover, but at least it shows you recognize and regret the blunder.


Bad-mouthing your last boss

Saying negative things about your previous employer sends a red flag to interviewers. However, your last boss might have been dreadful, and momentary angst could result in you speaking your mind. If so, put a spin on the unfortunate event. Quickly explain how you could have managed the situation at work better. Also, mention how what you’ve learned adds to your people skills.

No one’s immune to job interview gaffes, and everyone cringes when they happen. Nonetheless, there’s a good chance you can recover. Honesty, sincerity, and putting a positive spin on your mistakes will help you save the day.