Skip to main content
How to Rescue a Bad Interview
Job Interview Tips

How to Rescue a Bad Interview

By AJ Avañez on June 11, 2018

Despite how long and how well you rehearsed your job interview answers in front of the mirror, Murphy's Law of things going wrong in the most opportune moments can still bite you anyway. It could be something you said or did unintentionally, like blurting out an offensive statement or arriving an hour late for the interview.  Sometimes, it's easy to tell when a job interview isn't going well. But if you've ever been interviewed thinking that you nailed it but still didn't get called, perhaps you're wondering where you went wrong and what you could have done differently so you can ensure that your next interview is a success. Here are six signs that tell you the interview is going badly, and how you can turn things around.


Scenario 1: The interviewer seems disinterested.

If your interviewer appears to be looking everywhere other than you, or if they show negative body language such as crossing their arms, frequently looking at the clock, or leaning away, this could be because they've already found an ideal candidate and are simply going through the motions. Or it could be that they don't find your answers interesting. Either way, what you need to do is change your mode of attack.


Find something about yourself that they may find engaging, such as a turning point in your life or any skill, training, or experience that can help you be good at your job. You may also try connecting with them on a more personal level by asking questions aimed at establishing a common ground and striking a lighthearted conversation. This can help bring their focus back to the interview.


Scenario 2: The interview is too short.

Your interview didn't even go over ten minutes. That was easy, right? When it comes to job interviews, easy is actually bad.  If the interviewer didn't ask questions that went deeper than what you wrote in your resume, it's likely that you aren't being considered for the job. In general, a good interview should last no less than 30 minutes. This means that you have managed to grab the interviewer's attention and interest.


Be wary and get a feel for when the interview is nearing its end. Own the conversation and try to build rapport with your interviewer. Ask questions that reveal more about you and your preferred work-style, such as the type of leadership qualities they are looking for, a typical workday at the company looks like, or their expectations of you. The answers to these questions open up opportunities to tell the interviewer more about yourself, which can help turn the conversation to your advantage.


Scenario 3: The interview gives you some unsolicited career advice.

As you try your best to answer the questions, the interviewer somehow injects tips on how you can improve your credentials to be more qualified for the job. Worse, they recommend a completely different industry or company that would be a better fit for you.


This is probably the worst thing that can happen to your interview, and there's really not much you can do but to grin and bear it. Don't be offended and assume to know better. Take the interviewer's advice as a learning experience and consider it seriously. It may be good for you.


Scenario 4: The interviewer doesn't tell you what do next

A great interview usually ends with instructions on what to do next, such as submitting additional documents or work samples or maybe even scheduling your follow-up interviews. Sometimes, the interviewer may be confident enough to tell you that they'll call you again at a specific time in the future. If all you get is a thank you and nothing more, that's a strong indication that you didn't make the cut.


If the interviewer is being passive, it's your time to be aggressive. Ask direct questions that inform you where you stand, such as "Do you feel that I'm a good fit for the position based on this interview?" or "Can you tell me what I need to do next to get the job?" Don't be afraid to outwardly show how interested you are in landing the job. Enthusiasm goes a long way in convincing the interviewer that you'll do what it takes to be the perfect candidate.


Scenario 5: The interviewer starts mentioning other candidates who are a better fit for the position

During a one-on-one job interview, your interviewer should be focused on you and you alone. This means questions and discussions should be limited to learning more about you, not whiling away precious time discussing other candidates who have been interviewed for the post. That's an indirect way of telling you that he or she prefers another candidate over you.


It can be disheartening if a job interview steers in this direction, but it's crucial for you to remain positive throughout the interview. Take the next few minutes to turn that first impression around and convince him that you are just as confident, enthusiastic, and engaging as the next candidate, if not more so.


Scenario 6: "We'll call you."

If the interviewer says "we will call you" instead of asking you when you're available to start, your chances of getting hired are basically nil. Employers interview people because they have work that needs to be done, so if the interviewer tells you they'll be the one initiating the follow-up without giving you any specifics, it tells you that the point is moot. Of course, this is not always the case. For instance, if the interview ends on a positive note, being told that they'll call you can mean that you can expect a second interview or you'll be signing your hiring contract soon.


A thank you letter can be an effective way to undo the effects of a bad interview. In your 'thank you' letter, highlight the unique skillsets that make you a shoo-in for the job. Let them know that you'll be happy to meet again and discuss some ideas that you can contribute to the company. Send this letter within a week after your interview to show your continued interest in the position.   Before getting that interview, you need to ensure a great first impression through your resume. A well-done resume is an integral part of any job search. Allow our partners at Resumeble to help you create a document that markets you and lets your strongest skills shine. Click here to find out more about Resumable's service. 


Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with more than 2 million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.

The only end-to-end recruitment solutions provider in Southeast Asia, Kalibrr is headquartered in Makati, Philippines, with offices in San Francisco, California and Jakarta, Indonesia. Established in 2012, it has served over 18,000 clients, and is backed by some of the world’s most powerful start-up incubators and venture capitalists. These include Y Combinator, Omidyar Network, Patamar Capital, Wavemaker Partners, and Kickstart Ventures.

Need help finding that dream job? Sign up at Kalibrr and be connected to thousands of employers! For application help and additional professional advice, follow on Kalibrr Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.