Ask Matt: What can I do to fix a failed interview?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: June 23, 2014 - 2:13 PM

Dear Matt: I failed miserably at two recent interviews. Even though I was prepared I was nervous, rambled on and failed to articulate my strengths and value. Can I get a second chance to make a first impression?

Matt says: First impressions are critical; we generally only get one chance to shine. But job interview consultant Vicky Oliver (vickyoliver.com), author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions”, believes in second impressions — and says there is a creative way to fix a failed interview.

Send an e-mail within 24 hours that helps correct these mistakes. Here are three classic errors interviewees make, and how to fix them:

You didn’t toot your own horn enough. The interviewer asked what you find most rewarding about your career. You answered that you love working with people as a sales trainer and feel gratified when you see that the trainees “get it.” This is the right idea, but less than dazzling. In your follow-up e-mail, say something like this: “After our interview, I realized that I didn’t adequately portray my passion for sales training, when you asked me about what I found most rewarding.” Then give a specific example, say, about a new hire who took what you taught to the next level, and in the process showed you something remarkable about why you love what you do.

You didn’t edit yourself well. Instead of not saying enough, you volunteered information that would have better been left unsaid. When the interviewer asked you why you hadn’t progressed faster in your former company, you started talking about workplace politics and other unnecessary information that resembled office gossip from a disgruntled employee. In your e-mail, state you would like a chance to give a more articulate answer. Name specific examples of valuable skills and knowledge you acquired based on constructive feedback received at your last job. Talk about how much you valued the opportunity to get smarter, better and more experienced — even more than you might have valued a promotion. Show you’re ambitious, eager to learn and accountable.

You were caught off guard, and it showed. The headhunter forgot to mention your time will be split between your current city and its East Coast headquarters. Your knee-jerk reaction was, “Oh, this is the first I’ve heard about this!” Although honest, it makes a poor impression. E-mail the interviewer to say you love to travel and your experience, leadership skills, contacts, personality and background will be an asset when working in both company cultures. If you deem that the travel is too much, don’t accept the job, or try to negotiate the amount of travel once offered the job.

However, there are some mistakes you just can’t fix — showing up late, making a joke, or letting your phone ring. Avoid at all costs.

Contact Matt at jobslink@startribune.com.

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