How to Handle an Awkward Interview
Awkward moment #1 – You realized after seeing the confused, dazed look on the interviewer’s face, you are totally missing the mark on answering the question.
The most important thing is to slowly put the brake on your response. Don’t stop mid-sentence, but ease on the break. While this is not an easy recovery, it is possible. “After thinking about the question I may not be giving you the answer you need. Would you remind repeating the question, I just want to make sure I’m giving you the best possible answer.” Carefully listen to the question again. Think about your answer and respond. If you were on target, great. If not,“actually let me re-direct slightly. Perhaps another way to handle the situation is…” If your response was totally off the mark, admit your gaffe in understanding and then give the right answer. Be sure to apologize for misunderstanding the question, but do not blame the interviewer for the miscommunication.
Awkward moment #2 – The interviewer just asked a question and you realize, “I’ve got nothing.”
It happens all the time; you feel 100% ready for your interview. The interviewer fires the first question at you. “Tell me about a time you handled a difficult customer.” Suddenly everything goes blank; you can’t even remember talking to customers. The first thing you should do is stop, take a breath and remove the "deer in the headlights" look from your face. Realize that you don’t need to start speaking the second the interviewer stops. Take a moment to regroup and think back to a typical day. Once you stop trying to focus on the 100% right answer and start to develop a response, it will all come rushing right back to you.
Awkward moment #3 – You can’t get out of work the day of the interview and realize you have to go straight to the interview from your job.
If possible, have a change of clothes in the car. If you’re working fast food, but need to get to an office, stop at a rest area and do a bit of washing up first to remove some of the fast food smell. If it’s unavoidable, own it. “I’m so sorry to have to come to the interview dressed like this. I had a commitment at work and I needed to be there, but I am very interested in this position, so I hope you don’t mind my work attire.” After you have explained and apologized, make sure your answers are brilliant without being self-conscious of what you have on. If you remain in professional mode, they will see past your attire to the real you.
Awkward moments? We all have them – even the interviewers. The most important thing is how to recover from that moment, to let the ideal candidate that you are shine through.
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