Question: I just interviewed with my dream employer. I did my research, felt prepared and confident about the meeting, but as soon as the recruiter and I connected on video, I panicked.

From the start, she seemed irritated about doing the interview, asked pointed questions and seemed unhappy with each of my responses. Within moments, I felt myself crumble and I’m sure my insecurities were obvious.

What could I have done to salvage the interview?

Answer: I’m sorry this happened. All of your groundwork can’t always prepare you for the emotional turmoil of feeling “off” from the beginning of the interview. Let’s look at what could have happened in that meeting:

It’s not uncommon to start an internal dialogue with yourself if you feel things aren’t going well in an important meeting, like an interview. Instead of supporting negative beliefs, which could be erroneous, try reinforcing positive beliefs and actions.

  • Take a deep breath if you feel yourself getting flustered. Pause, inhale and exhale slowly. Then ask the interviewer a clarifying question, such as, “I feel like I’m not being specific. May I have another chance to address your second question?” This could tell the interviewer that you’re aware you’re not showing your best self and may even alert them to their own negative behavior.
    • If you can, as you tell yourself things aren’t going well and the interviewer is disinterested in you, reframe what’s happening. Reassure yourself, “This is OK. I’m OK. It’s going fine. Stay calm and remember you’re prepared.” When you do this in the moments between interview questions, you reframe what you’re seeing and then how you’ll respond to it.
      • Things may not have been as bad as you imagined. Your perception of the experience may have been off because of your internal dialogues. It’s possible the recruiter appreciated your patience, directness and responses to her questions. Before you write it off as a disaster, see how it plays out.

If you are afforded another opportunity to interview, see how that one goes. If it’s similar to the first one, perhaps this indicates flaws in the company culture that you should consider before proceeding. If the next interview is more positive, then either your assessment of the first meeting was off, or you really did better than you believed.

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