How to Save a Disastrous Job Interview

bad job interview

Oops! Now what?

Finally! You land that coveted job interview you’ve been waiting for. You know the one—where if they hire you your life will click back on track quicker than you can say, “Hey, guess what? I just won the lottery!”

But what happens if during your interview your (hopefully soon) boss-to-be suddenly looks at you like he or she is tactfully trying to get out of a blind date?

Although it’s true that businesses aren’t laying off employees as fast as they were a few years ago, they’re still not hiring like it was the early 80’s all over again, either. Obviously you don’t want to blow a job interview once you finally get your foot in the door. So if your interview starts to fall apart like a wet tissue, you might try this bit of job interview savvy before you completely throw in the towel.

Dazzle Them With Your Charm

If you feel your interview taking an unexpectedly bad turn, don’t automatically blame yourself. Nine times out of 10 it’s not your fault. Could be that your interviewer is having a bad day. Maybe they were late to work, had a fight with their spouse, didn’t get the raise they expected. Whatever. None of it has anything to do with you. Or maybe they’re just a bad interviewer, and as such they babble on incessantly like a beauty pageant contestant answering questions about world peace. In any regard, this is your chance to turn sour grapes into fine wine. Help your interviewer get back up to speed by asking about the specific experience required for the job, and then relate your own experience back to that. This is the one time you want to make the conversation all about YOU. So don’t forget to add comments like, “Sounds like I’m a perfect match, because in my last job…” If you’re lucky you’ll actually make your interviewer look articulate.

Lead With Your Strong Suit

Let’s face it, a lot of times interviewers don’t have time to fully digest your resume, let alone read it. Don’t be offended, they’re busy people, too. Instead, if your interviewer acts like he or she hasn’t got a clue as to why the two of you are engaged in conversation, take the lead by putting your strongest qualifications front and center. In other words, if you could brag about just one thing to close the deal, what would it be? Be sure to figure this out in advance so you can pull it out of your sleeve like a magician extracting endless colorful scarves. Don’t let a great job opportunity go up in smoke just because your interviewer didn’t do his or her homework.

Become a Stalker

And speaking of homework, you need to do yours, too. Make sure you find out everything you need to know about the company and your interviewer BEFORE you show up. Fortunately all you have to do is stalk the company’s social media and website to get the job done. Study up on things like:

  • When the company started
  • Who started it
  • The company’s flagship products and services
  • The size of the staff
  • What the company is best known for
  • The company’s annual revenue
  • Any professional accomplishments your interviewer has achieved

Your research not only makes YOU look like you’re on the ball, it also allows you to keep the dialogue going by asking smart questions.

Turn the Other Cheek

I’m just going to say it. You may be interviewed by someone who has decided (before you even get there) that they don’t like you. Maybe you’re slated to replace his best friend…who was fired. Or maybe the interviewer is worried the higher-ups will replace him or her down the road and thus is threatened by any new employees. (Or maybe the guy just has an attitude problem, plain and simple.) Whatever the reason if the interview turns confrontational DON’T FIGHT BACK. You don’t want to burn any bridges, especially in small industries where bad news travels fast. Just take the high road and be as professional as possible. Afterward you can go whine (or “wine” as the case may be) about it with your friends. Be sure to let them tell you how wonderful you are.

Don’t Disappear Afterward

Regardless of how the interview goes, following up with a letter or email is a must. Thank your interviewer for their time, reiterate how perfect you are for the job and explain why. And whatever you do, DON’T apologize for any part of the interview. No matter how goofy you think you looked chances are you came off just fine. So don’t plant seeds in the interviewer’s mind that aren’t there already. All apologizing does is make you look insecure.

Just remember this: An interview goes poorly usually because there’s a lot of uncomfortable silence happening. If the interviewer sits there like a petrified tree stump, then it’s up to you to keep the dialogue going. Don’t be afraid to give it a try. What have you got to lose? Except maybe the job of your dreams, or at the very least a steady paycheck.

About Stacy Dymalski
As a stand-up comic, Stacy Dymalski has been through many job interviews in her life and thus has learned a thing or two about talking to people. In addition to being a "professional job interviewee" and comic, she is an author, blogger, corporate speaker, filmmaker, self-publishing consultant, and busy mom of two teenage sons. Any more than that and she'll spontaneously combust. Her latest book is "Confessions of a Band Geek Mom," a hilarious account of trying to get parenthood and career to coexist without anybody getting hurt. Her follow-up book, "Wynton Marsalis Had My Back" is due out later this year. You can find Stacy's books on and in bookstores all across the county. To book Stacy as a speaker or to just shoot the breeze, contact Stacy on Facebook at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>