Even if you leave a job interview knowing you went down spectacularly in flames, experts say you can still get something positive out of the wreckage.
First, figure out what exactly went wrong. Write down precisely what you think went poorly and how you would speak, interact or prepare differently in the future.
"The best thing to do with a bad interview is learn from it," says Katharine Brooks, author and executive director of the office of personal and career development at Wake Forest University.
Next, send your interviewer a thank-you note. Just because the interview did not go as well as you hoped, you can still leave that person with a positive impression – which could help you later.
In the note, experts say you can explain what went wrong, but only if you’re positive that the interviewer caught those missteps, too.
"For example, if the candidate believes their responses to questions were off target, he or she can send a well crafted follow-up letter to the interviewer admitting a misunderstanding of the questions. This might make a difference," notes Jay Canchola, an HR business partner for Raytheon.
- Don't make excuses for your performance.
- Add anything relevant you forgot to mention, such as work experience, etc.
- Outline distractions (serious life events, etc.) if they impacted your performance.
- Don't apologize.
"The expression 'never burn your bridges' can apply to interviews as well," Canchola adds. "Because people and circumstances are constantly changing, and if the prospective employer is one that aligns with your individual goals, you should continue to make the best impression possible."