How to Recover from a Job Interview Mistake

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Even the most successful job interviews don’t always go smoothly. You might trip up and spit out a cliché instead of a thoughtful answer. You might accidentally reveal more about your personal life than you meant to or respond to a question in a way that doesn’t fully answer it. Regardless, if you catch your mistake soon after the words come out of your mouth, you have a chance to recover from the stumble. Try one of the following techniques if you commit an interview faux pas:

– Correct your mistake right away. Interviewers are more likely to remember that you caught your mistake and successfully recovered from it than to dwell on the fact that you made it in the first place. So if you know as soon as the words come out of your mouth that they were the wrong ones, try saying something like, “Actually, can I rephrase that?” The interviewer will probably say yes and give you the chance to say what you should have said in the first place.

– Ask questions. If you find that you’ve lost the interviewer’s attention, try to get them to re-engage with you by asking a few questions. Try to get them to talk about the job and its duties or the challenges being faced by their company, and you may be able to turn your interview into a memorable one.

– Ask for a break. If the ship is sinking and you can’t figure out how to right it, it may be worth sacrificing a few precious minutes of your interview to take a break so you can reset the atmosphere when you return. Ask if you can make a quick trip to the bathroom, then spend that time regaining your equilibrium. Take a few deep breaths and try to relax. The break may help you get your balance back.

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