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Did I do a bad interview?

It’s common to come out of an interview and think that the whole thing was a terrible disaster.

It’s also true that many people who feel like that end up getting the job!

So how can you stop yourself worrying that you’ve done a bad interview?

‘Did I do a bad interview? Some techniques to remind yourself that you didn’t’

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Ask yourself some rational questions

If you're anxious afterwards, ask yourself some objective

questions to reassure yourself that you didn't do a bad interview

It’s not unusual to be overcritical of ourselves when we come out of an interview, exam or test. We tend to focus on the negatives instead of seeing the positives. It’s common to do this even in social situations.

Asking yourself some questions which you can provide definite and objective answers to can be a great way to calm those nerves:

  • Were you polite and friendly?
  • Were you able to answer most of the questions?
  • Did you have a reasonable rapport with the interviewers?
  • Was the interview the expected length?
  • Did you ask a few questions at the end?

If your answer is yes to most of these questions, there is no reason to think you did badly in the interviewer. Answering no to a few of them also doesn’t mean you did a bad interview either.

Working through these questions can even remind you that you didn’t do a bad interview at all – you may even realise you did quite a good one!

Things to remember about interviews

1. Interviewers don’t expect perfection

Interviewers don’t expect you to be perfect – and an interview isn’t a search for someone who meets every requirement without flaws or the need to develop and improve in certain ways. Your interviewers want to know that you have the skills and knowledge to do the job, or the potential to develop them, plus the enthusiasm to do learn and push yourself.

2. They are looking for good communicators but no one expects Shakespeare

It’s true that you need to be articulate and communicate effectively during an interview. But many of us get tongue tied in stressful situations and your interviewers will know this. So if you had to stop and think occasionally, or didn’t always express yourself in the best way, that’s OK. They will have looked at the overall picture you presented, including your application form and any tests you had to do. Plus any employer worth working for knows the importance of prioritising substance over style.

3. Interviewers know people can learn on the job

Interviewers don’t expect you to know EVERYTHING – so don’t worry if you couldn’t answer every question in great detail. Often employers are looking to see that you have the right approach to the tasks they have asked you about. This means they are looking for problem-solving abilities, critical thinking, analysis, self-reflection and thoughtfulness.

4. They know you are nervous, especially if you’re new to the game

Interviewers will be aware that you haven’t done many interviews before if you’re a school/college leaver or even a graduate. They will generally be understanding of this and factor it into your performance.

What to do after an interview

First, look at these tips from recruitment agency Hays:

1. Unwind, you’ve earned it

As soon as your interview is over, do something nice. Whether that’s going home and crashing in front of the TV, going for a coffee with a mate or your mum or dad, going for a walk or whatever – do something that you enjoy.

2. Debrief if you want to

It’s not for everyone but sometimes it can be helpful to have a “debrief” with a trusted friend or family-member. Work through the questions above and just generally talk about how you feel it went and how you feel in the aftermath. Your friend should be able to share some words of wisdom, particularly if you’re panicking that it was a bad interview.

3. Find out when you will get an answer

If you weren’t told when you will hear the outcome of your interview and forgot to ask at the end of your interview, contact the HR team at your prospective employer and ask them. Check your emails first in case you were already given this information. You can also thank them for offering you an interview and repeating that you would really like to work for them and contribute to the team.

4. Ask for feedback if you didn’t get the job

If you don’t get the job, ask for feedback so you can build on your interview performance, skills and experience for next time. Remember, it doesn’t mean you did a bad interview, you may just not have quite been the right match for the role or perhaps someone was that little bit more suitable. None of us get every job we apply for and that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Keep trying and you will get there.

If you are going for an interview soon, check out this guide to interview success.