How to Bounce Back After a Bad Interview

18 July 2023

It’s the kind of nightmare that could see you waking up in a cold sweat: your interviewer throws you a curveball question, and suddenly, your mind decides to take an impromptu vacation. You stumble, you fumble, and a painfully awkward silence settles in as you and your potential employer look blankly at one another, each wondering how on Earth you ended up in this comedic stand-off.

You might want the ground to open up and swallow you whole right now, but it could bring you some solace to know that this is an incredibly common experience and that your own internal barometer can be way off the mark. So many candidates tell us they think their interviews went horribly, only to have the client call us with nothing but praise for them. The truth is, sometimes you just can’t tell. However, if you’re wondering what to do after a bad job interview, we’ve got some advice that could help you perform some damage control and start feeling more positive.

Reflect on what went wrong, and make some notes

After any awkward or embarrassing experience, it’s easy to overdramatise and turn your memories into something way more cringey than reality. In fact, you’ll find loads of stories from other people online who’ve been through something similar and were actually offered the job. 

Follow up with a thank you

Repeat after us: following up with a thank you note after a job interview is always a good idea. Yes, even if you did end up spilling hot coffee in your interviewer’s lap after a fumbled handshake. And don’t just take our word for it - according to research, 63% of hiring managers look more favourably on candidates who follow up with a thank you compared to those who don’t.

Be honest with your recruiter

One of the many benefits of using a recruiter is that they will often have a close relationship with the company you’re interviewing with, and can therefore be a real ally and advocate on your behalf. If your recruiter believes in your skills and knows your bad job interview performance was just a glitch, there’s a chance they’ll be able to smooth things over, and maybe even get you through to the next round of interviews for a second chance. 

Put your referees on guard

No matter how badly you think your interview went, there’s always a chance you were still more impressive than your fellow interviewees, or that it’ll be a tie between you and another candidate. Either way, it’s good sense to have a chat with your referees (if you’ve supplied their details to your recruiter or hiring manager) to prepare them. Ask them to reiterate a point that maybe you feel like you didn’t make well, or highlight something you forgot to mention altogether – that way, you’ve got an extra chance to stress to your potential employer how perfect you’d be for the job.

Keep calm and carry on

It might not seem like it now, but ultimately, having a bad interview is one of those horrible life lessons that can see you emerge a stronger person in the long run. The best way to get over this slight setback is to get right back on the horse and keep riding (that is, carry on applying for jobs and attending interviews!)