The Crash and Burn
Have you ever left a job interview and said to yourself any of the following, “Wow, that was really ugly”, or “Whew, that was pretty bad”, or “Man, I just went down in a blaze of glory”? If you have, then you are certainly not alone. Talk to the best standup comedians, entertainers or entrepreneurs and they will share their stories of how they bombed on stage or screwed up an investor pitch. Here is a three-step process for moving forward after a bad interview: first deconstruct the event, second, come up with a take-away message and third, relish the silver lining.
Deconstructing the Event, aka the Post-Mortem:
After one of these episodes, the first thing many of us do is beat our self up. If you’ve ever seen a boxing match, you know that the best fighters always get up! Think about why you performed poorly. Did you even perform poorly, i.e., are you being too hard on yourself? Were you unprepared? Were you scared? Did you feel like you would have failed a polygraph test, when saying that you see yourself growing with the company for the next five years? Hindsight is 20/20. The brilliant or alternative response always seems to come the moment the interview ends, so the first thing to do is ease up. No one is perfect. If you feel like you gave it your best shot but didn’t like your answer, then chalk it up, practice responding to this type of question and on the next interview you will answer the question to your satisfaction. What about if you were unprepared? Well, if you went into an interview, without doing research on a company or practicing your pitch, then you must first be honest with yourself. If you blew a legitimate opportunity because you were unprepared, then a little tough love will do you right. Know that you missed out on a great job because you didn’t do your homework and you have no one to blame but yourself. If this is the case, then practice and read up before the next one. What if you felt really uncomfortable when the interviewer told you about his/her experience and if you felt like you didn’t believe your own responses? Sometimes, we just have a bad day or we’re under the weather. For now, let’s forget about the nerves or the sudden onslaught of a bad cold. Sweaty palms and sickness, aside, I know that I have been in an interview, where the person described the corporate culture and I thought, “Wow, I think I would feel really uncomfortable here…in fact, I already do!” Guess what? If that thought ran through your head, then unless you’re a great poker player, your body language indicated some degree of discomfort. Furthermore, it would not be surprising to give a disingenuous answer about how you wanted to join a company, when your gut told your brain it didn’t feel right.
If it’s your fault because you weren’t prepared, then own it and don’t do it again. If you think there’s room for improvement, then diagnose what needs tweaking and practice. If you stumbled because you were thinking about how this place is not right for you, then don’t beat up on yourself! Listen to your body; it’s trying to tell you that you don’t belong there.
Sometimes, you think you screwed up and you get a call three days later with a job offer. The company might have already made up their mind that you were their guy (or girl). Alternatively, you receive a rejection email and thank your lucky stars, that they didn’t like you. If you felt sick sitting with someone for 40 minutes, how would it feel working with that same person five days a week? You may have some more soul searching left to do, a few more hands to shake and a few more resumes to send out but sometimes the best road, is the one not taken.
Legally Free is a blogger for StrengthsInsight and an attorney at law in the midst of a career transition. As he makes his way through his transition, he is sharing his insights into his journey of ditching his former legal career and rediscovering his love for innovative business, new and interesting people and having fun.
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