How to Recover After a Really Bad Interview

By July 12, 2018For Talent

As a career coach and facilitator something that I hear even amongst the most confident and experienced clients is, “I am really bad at interviews”.

Now I am the first to admit that selling ourselves comes easier to some than others but internalising the belief that we are bad at interviews only serves to create a self-fulfilling prophecy and can cause people to feel very stuck in their career.

So, what is the answer? The key is often in what actions we take after a “bad interview”. I advise my clients to reflect, adjust and then refocus.


How many times have you left an interview and a couple of hours later you can’t remember much other than how the interview made you feel. We tend to focus on the negative emotions.

So, how do we change that? I always recommend writing down as many questions after the interview as possible and reflecting on how you answered them.

What questions did you answer well and which did you struggle with? This is useful if you get to a second round interview, as interviewers will often revisit areas where perhaps your answers were lacking slightly.


Did you think about the role from the employer’s perspective when answering the questions? Remember the four key questions that an employer has in mind when interviewing,

1. Can you do the job?

Do you understand the role and can you talk about your own relevant experience? Are you aware of any challenges that you might need to plan for in terms of gaps in suitability?

2. Will you fit in?

How do you handle competency-based questions around topics such as conflict? What is your leadership style? How emotionally intelligent are you? Do you understand the culture of the organisation?

3. Do you want the job?

What is your reason for applying for the role? If you are career transitioning do they understand your motivation for doing so? Do they think that you will get bored? Are you demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role?

4. Can they afford you?

How are you approaching the salary question? Are you underselling or overselling? Have you done your research on salaries in your sector?

Stepping into an employer’s shoes and viewing the interview from their perspective is such a useful tool as it allows you to really focus on what they are looking for.

Remember to show not just tell when answering questions. Ensure that you are backing up your statements with evidence.


Refocus involves moving on to the next interview having focussed on areas that needed improvement, expanding on competences or even exploring mindfulness exercises to prevent nerves getting the best of you.

Interviewing for some will always be nerve-wracking. You may grow to like them but the key is to learn from each interaction and use it to improve your own performance so that you may continue to grow in your career and not allow yourself to be limited by unhelpful beliefs.

Read more interview advice here.

Author Carmel Morrissey

More posts by Carmel Morrissey

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