Thursday, June 14, 2007

Making a Bad First Impression

There's no better feeling than coming out of a job interview and feeling like you nailed it. You and the interviewer clicked, everyone seemed very impressed with your resume and abilities, and there was plenty of positive body language.

On the other hand, there is no worse feeling than knowing that you messed up -- that somewhere in the interview you really bombed and possibly blew your chances of getting a job you really want. You head home,deeply depressed, ready to beat your head against the nearest wall for being such a numbskull.

But before you put that knot on your head, consider that you may be able to salvage the situation. So maybe you called someone by the wrong name or showed up late for the interview -- you still may be able to recover and put yourself in serious contention for the job.

Annie Stevens, managing partner with Boston-based ClearRock, says that the right follow-up plan and quick action can turn around a bad first impression.

Specifically, you should:

* Assess the damage. Take a hard look at how badly you may have hurt your chances, and whether it was a big deal -- or no one else really noticed.

* Act quickly. Don't give the bad impression time to sink in. Take immediate steps to correct it.

* Re-establish your qualifications. If you follow-up with a phone call or e-mail, use it as a chance to again outline your skills and experienced. "Keep this succint," Stevens says.

* Apologize. Don't go overboard, but if you made a glaring error, then you should offer a sincere "I'm sorry."

* Use humor carefully. You can make the situation worse by joking about it.

* Prepare for the next shot. Chances are, you'll be given another chance to interview with someone else, so take steps to make sure you don't repeat your missteps.


Anonymous said...

I think too many interviewers set out to deliberately trip you up. You've got to go into any interview with the thought that it's a game, and the other person is going to try and win. That helps keep you on your toes and not let them trick you into making a mistake they can use to say: AHA! I've found out this person's weaknesses!

Anonymous said...

I think that's a totally unfair assessment. I often have to interview job candidates, and I can't begin to tell you the pressures I get from managers to find out everything I can about these people. But I'm under strict guidelines in order not to break the law, so I have to be careful what I ask. And you can't believe how many people outright lie about their qualifications or something like a DUI arrest. I think "trick" is too strong a word, but do we try and use any way we can to find the TRUTH?? You bet!

Anonymous said...

That is bulls**t if anyone believes that interviewers don't ask anything illegal. I'm a woman and I've been asked more than once about whether I "like kids" or whether my husband and I think our town "is a good place to raise a family." If that's not trying to find out whether I'm going to get pregnant and take maternity leave, I don't know what is. I don't see any interviwer ever asking a man such a thing.

Anonymous said...

What we all have to remember is that interviewing is like politics. Everyone has his or her own agenda, and not the least of these is the goals of the company. If you feel you're being dealt with dishonestly in an interview, why would you want to work for such a company? Same thing for an employer -- why would you want someone who was not honest with you?