You’ve Lost Control of Your Interview: What to Do Next

Your interviewer is a very difficult person to read, and while you’re struggling to size her up, your nervous energy is getting the best of you. You keep rushing to fill pauses in the conversation, and despite your bathroom-mirror practice session, all of your remarks sound somehow ridiculous.Halfway through the interview, you’re barely holding on. And then it happens: You completely lose control of the conversation. If you experience any of these common scenarios, don’t panic. Just take a deep breath and do what you can to bounce back.

1. You’re caught in a lie.

Or at least, you FEEL like you’re being caught in a lie. Your interviewer just stopped you mid-sentence and pointed out a factual disconnect between the words coming out of your mouth and a statement that appears on your resume (or something you said a few minutes earlier). “Wait…” says your interviewer. “How can that be true? You told me before that you… (fill in the blank). But what you just said contradicts that. What’s going on?”Don’t fluster or stutter. Trust yourself. You’re a complex human being, and of course some of your opinions and experiences may seem to contradict each other. But you’re also honest, and you haven’t done anything wrong. Slow down, calm down, and get your interviewer to fully explain her confusion before you sort it out.

2. Your interviewer seems to dislike you.

Your interviewer is frowning through everything you say with an expression of disapproval. But after your last remark, she literally rolled her eyes and sighed. Or she just sat and stared at you for the length of several full, silent seconds. You have no idea how to go on. You obviously just put the last nail in your own coffin.You may feel like thanking her for her time and walking out the door. But don’t do this.  Instead, be optimistic. Wait politely for the next question. Nervous energy can cloud our perception of other people’s feelings. And some interviewers make a deliberate effort to seem closed off and forbidding just to test a candidate’s confidence and poise.

3. You just said something self-incriminating.

You just shared a foolish mistake from your past that might hurt your chances. Or you accidentally said something negative about yourself. Or you revealed a personal weakness, like your tendency to cut corners, miss deadlines, or lose your patience with clients.Should you bluster back through what you just said and fill the air with qualifiers and excuses? (“What I MEANT is…”) No. Just let your interviewer stop and request follow-up if she chooses. If not, let the moment pass.

4. You just zoned out for five full minutes.

Now she’s finished speaking and she’s asking you a question: “So…how do you feel about all of that?”Should you panic? Should you confess that you weren’t listening and ask her to repeat her entire speech? No. Instead, nod thoughtfully, smile, and start moving through your elevator pitch, the 30 second speech you’ve prepared covering all the reasons why your background and skills are a perfect match for this position.  No matter what she just said, there’s a 65 percent chance that your elevator pitch is an appropriate insertion at this point in the conversation. Those odds aren’t perfect… but they’re the best you have. Next time, pay attention.

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With a great resume on hand, no single interview has the power to make or break your future. Even if you crash and burn, your next opportunity will be right around the corner. Visit MyPerfectResume for help and support you need to get back in the game.