4 Awkward Interview Moments You Need to Avoid

There are a few classic awkward moments that happen almost every day in job interviews all over the world. And no matter how much experience you may bring to the table—on the side of the interviewer or the candidate—these moments are sometimes unavoidable. In order to navigate them successfully, put them behind you, and move on, you’ll need to stay cool and keep a small problem from becoming a big one.

1. The first glance doesn’t go well.

In the movies, we often see young candidates waiting in the reception area and being warmly approached by a hiring manager from off screen. The candidate stands up without incident, smiles are exchanged, hands are extended, and the interview is off and running. In real life, things don’t always work this way. If your interviewer looks you up and down with transparent disapproval, or you accidently stumble while standing up, or you find yourself momentarily mesmerized by her blue mohawk, this is awkward. But you CAN recover. Just keep your mouth closed, smile, and move on.

2. The small talk falls flat.

The manager mentions that it’s a lovely day and asks if you had trouble finding the venue. You mishear her and think she’s asking you for a menu. Of course this doesn’t make sense, but you’re nervous. So it takes you a while to process what she said. Meanwhile she waits politely for an answer. Then she changes the subject. Don’t try to bring the moment back or make a joke out of it. Let it go. All job interview candidates are nervous. She’ll understand this as long as you don’t make it worse.

3. There’s one thing you don’t have.

At some point during your conversation, the interviewer makes it clear—very clear—that this job will require exactly three years of shop floor experience. Without three years of experience, no candidate stands a chance. You have two years of experience. What now? Should you thank her for her time and walk out? No. If she wants to end the interview then and there, that’s her prerogative. But don’t do it for her. Instead, state clearly that you have only two years, and then take control of the conversation and discuss your other strengths and qualifications. Bring them decisively to the table.

4. You say something negative about yourself.

You think you’re being adorably self-deprecating (“oh, I can’t find anything in this purse! I’m such a disorganized mess!), but the room falls silent. The atmosphere grows cold. And you realize that your self-deprecating remark is being taken at face value. You can’t take back what you’ve said. But you can move on. Change the subject and from this point forward, learn your lesson and stand up for yourself a little more aggressively.

The Keys to Success: Resilience and a Resume

When misunderstandings take place or your interview conversation slips out of your control, don’t panic. Just quiet down for a second, recognize the problem, and calmly bring things back on track. And if you have to let this opportunity go, make sure your resume is polished and brilliant, and your next interview will be right around the corner. Visit MyPerfectResume for resume guidelines and formatting tools that will keep you from missing a single beat.