What to do after a bad interview

Bad Interview - Image Credit: Thinkstock

Didn’t get the job after you last interview? Here are our top tips on what to do after an interview:

It's interview day, you've done all the necessary preparation and are raring to. You know every detail on your CV, have researched the employer and are aware of the interview mistakes to avoid, so you feel genuinely confident about your chances. But as soon as the formalities are over and you sit down to be questioned by the interviewer, you go to pieces. Nerves take over and you fluff your lines, meaning it's another opportunity gone.

Having got your hopes up and felt genuinely optimistic about your chances, a bad job interview can be a crushing blow to your morale. But it's important to stay positive - bad interviews happen to the best of us. Even the real high-flyers can have a nightmare from time to time, and for no apparent reason. Negative experiences are an unfortunate yet inevitable aspect of trying to advance your career - things aren't always going to go your way.

What is important is how you respond to a bad interview. You need to be pragmatic when confronted with rejection and learn from your experience. There's nothing to say the same thing will happen next time, so don't dwell too much on your failure. You just need to work on your weaknesses to try and avoid a repeat performance. Keep your head high and your confidence up, and throw yourself back into the jobs market.

  • Competitive jobs market

Sometimes you just aren't going to perform at interview. But the reality is, even if you excel, there's no guarantee you're going to get selected. The jobs market is, by its very nature, competitive. Every time you submit a job application, there will be other high-calibre individuals in the hunt. They are just as ambitious and eager to progress their career as you, and you've got to out-perform them in order to get the job.

Particularly if you're applying for senior roles, or those with prestigious employers, the level of competition will be fierce. Hiring managers receive dozens of applications from interested jobseekers, all of whom have the requisite skills. So each time a new hire is made, plenty more talented people end up missing out.

As a candidate, all you can do is perform to your very best throughout the recruitment process. A recruiter can coach you to help make the most of your ability.

So work on your CV and if it needs updating use a CV template to tailor it and submit great applications. Then you need to focus on preparing for interviews and do yourself justice when you meet with employers. If you achieve on all these fronts, you've given yourself a chance. But often it just comes down to who performs on the day or who the employer connects with the most.

  • It's the employer's choice

Often employers interview a number of professionals for job vacancies, each of whom impress and makes a strong claim for being selected. But with limited resources available, they have to make a difficult choice. Only one person can get the job.

Employers may consider a variety of factors in making their final selection and these won't always relate to interview performance. They are looking for someone with the requisite skills and experience, but who also fits the organisation's culture and brand. Sometimes personality will be the main differentiator between two excellent candidates, with the employer opting for the person they got on with the best.

Of course, other factors can come into play. For instance, you could be up against an internal candidate, who knows the interviewer and has a natural advantage in the selection process. Perhaps another candidate has lower salary expectations than you, which might appeal to employers with limited financial flexibility. If you have a recruitment agency helping you in your job search, they are able to negotiate terms and influence the employer’s selection.

Sometimes external candidates may already be known to employers, by virtue of industry reputation, networking or previous dealings, meaning they are considered a 'safe bet'. Or maybe another candidate is promising to bring high-value business with them to the organisation, offering an immediate return on investment.

As a candidate, there are some things you can control, but others you can't. All you can do is focus on your own performance in an interview and ensure your CV is up to date; there's no point worrying about what your rivals are doing. Your task is to match your own skills and experiences to the job specification and role criteria. If other candidates can do this more effectively, then it's maybe not the job for you.

  • Taking the positives after a bad interview

Experiencing a little rejection in business can sometimes work in your favour. As well as making you even more determined to achieve your career goals, it gives a strong indication that you are doing the right thing by looking for a new job. If there is any doubt in your mind about moving organisation, the disappointment you feel at being overlooked may eliminate this and offer the reassurance you need.

Always seek feedback from employers following a bad interview. They may be able to offer constructive criticism and advice, helping you to refine your approach for next time. Sometimes they will say you performed very well and were unlucky not to be chosen; hearing this from the hiring manager can provide a real confidence boost. It suggests that, by keeping your head up and doing the same things, your opportunity will come along sooner rather than later.

Every interview is different and each employer has a specific idea of who they are looking for. On some occasions this will work in your favour and on others, it will won't. But by applying for suitable roles, based upon your qualifications, skills and experience, and investing time and effort in the recruitment process, you give yourself a chance of success. If you keep doing the right things and abide by job search etiquette, you will eventually get the call. And rather than shattering your hopes and dreams, it will be the news you've been waiting to hear.