Creating a positive and lasting first impression when going for an interview is at the forefront of every candidate’s mind going in. So much so, that it can easily consume you and end up throwing you off course, leaving the interviewer with a less than favourable impression and one that is not truly representative of you. Perhaps you weren’t even nervous but you were unavoidably late or something show-stopping happened just before you left for the interview to knock you well off-course. If the unthinkable happens and you know that you did not make a good impression from the get-go, what can you do about it? Thankfully, all hope is not lost and you can take steps to redeem yourself.
If lateness is the reason for the bad impression, you’ve little to lose by making a point of explaining why. This is definitely a tricky one, as you can very easily sound like you’re making excuses and set a terrible precedent for yourself. However, if you’re as honest and genuine as you can be and level with your interviewer, making it clear how terrible you know it is to be late to an interview, then you might stand a chance at gaining some respect for your honesty. Ignoring the fact that you were late is not going to do you many favours and can easily make it look like you don’t consider punctuality to be terribly important.
Consider a follow up letter
If you’re sure you blew the interview because nerves got the better of you and you went off on a tangent, then consider answering them after the interview in a letter. As part of the ‘thanks for the opportunity to interview for you’ letter, take the chance to also re-word any answers you think you messed up, explaining that you weren’t on form at the interview.
Speak to your recruitment consultant
One of the best things about having your own recruitment consultant is that they are there to fight your corner. This is a huge advantage in general, but it can be especially useful if you think you tanked an interview. Your consultant can let you know if your fears are justified or not and advise the next steps – they have the direct line to the organisation. They can vouch for the fact that you were not on form and that any poor impression is not representative of you as a professional.
Interviews don’t always go to plan. Sometimes life gets in the way. However, you should never admit defeat without a fight, so if you made a terrible first impression, do everything in your power to correct it or at least implement damage control. Your interviewer is human too, so appeal to that side of them and you could redeem yourself and even make it to that second round.