We’ve all been in conversations where the person we’re talking to doesn’t seem interested. Their eyes glaze over, they cross their arms, and they check their phone while you’re talking to them. It’s rude, unprofessional, and not behaviour that you should get from an interviewer. But, unfortunately, it does sometimes happen. You’ll know you’re in an interview gone wrong when the Hiring Manager:
- Isn’t maintaining eye contact
- Starts rushing through questions
- Stops smiling and nodding
- Gives off the impression that they’re not present or engaged
- Stops taking notes
When this happens, be aware of it, but don’t let it knock you off your game. More often than not, this isn’t your fault and has more to do with the time of the day, what’s happening with the Hiring Manager personally, or the work stress he or she has been under lately. Don’t worry! You can come back from this.
Here are four easy ways to fix an interview gone wrong:
1. Take a moment to regroup and then bottom line your message.
Now’s the time to take a strategic sip of water while you think about what you were saying when you noticed the Hiring Manager tuning out. Were you rambling? Did you get off point? What were you trying to say?
The best way to make sure you’re paid attention to is to end off the story you were telling or point you were making with a powerful one-liner that makes an impact. For example, a “so, because of these challenges, I stepped in to create and implement a new social media marketing strategy that generated 40% higher engagement and a 10% increase in followers within two months.” This simple message is both memorable and impactful because it’s clear, concise, and compelling. In other words, the interviewer didn’t have to be paying attention to what you said before it to know that you mean business.
2. Check in with your interviewer.
If you’re really feeling like you’re being ignored and that it’s hurting your candidacy, now could be the time to respectfully check in with your interviewer and ask if they need clarification or more information. A polite way to do this is to first recognize that you may have been rambling a bit and then redirect the conversation back to the story you were telling. This breaks up your answer and causes the interviewer to listen more actively.
For example, a simple: ‘I just realized that I’ve gotten a bit off topic, so just to refocus what I was saying…” works perfectly.
3. Ensure your body language is open and energetic.
Your body language matters just as much, if not more, than what you’re actually saying. This is because the energy level you’re projecting will impact your Hiring Manager’s level of engagement. If you’re leaned forward with your arms crossed, you’ll come across as more intense and less approachable than you would want to. Ensure that you’re relaxed yet professional by straightening your posture, sitting back in your chair, and gesturing naturally to support what you’re saying.
Keeping tabs on your body language is so critical for those of you who get anxiety before interviews. When you’re anxious, you tend to crunch up, fiddle, and look tense. Take note of this and monitor your body language throughout the interview so you can actively correct your mistakes.
4. Use stories to support what you’re saying.
A simple rule that I always tell my clients is this: interviewers remember stories more than they do the specific details of your experience. Moreover, when they’re debriefing with the rest of their team after the interview, they’ll recount the stories that you told to support your application because these will be most memorable.
Before you head into your interview, I recommend shortlisting 3-5 specific stories in your career when you’ve overcome challenges, achieved or surpassed targets, or pioneered the implementation of a new strategy/product. By keeping these top of mind, you’ll be ready to re-orient the to answer a number of different interview questions.
Do you have any tips to help others re-focus an interview gone wrong? Questions about interview etiquette? Let me know in the comments section!