How to Handle Awkward Interview Moments

How to Handle Awkward Interview Moments

A job interview can be a nerve-racking experience and mistakes do happen.

Interview Preparation

No matter how much you prepare, there’s always the chance something will go wrong in the interview. Nothing ever sticks to your plan. That’s life. Whatever the awkward moment, whether a weird handshake or slip of the tongue, there are correct ways you can handle them.

Continue reading to find out what do you do when the worst happens.

How to Handle Awkward Interview Moments

Common Interview Mistakes

There are many things that can go wrong in an interview. Everyone makes mistakes. Interviewers will understand you’re not a bad candidate because you spilt coffee on you.

But, if you study common interview mistakes, you can try to avoid these errors.

Calming Interview Nerves

Everyone gets nervous. Some people experience nerves weeks before the interview. Some people only get nervous while in the interview. No matter how nervous you are, there are some things you can do to help to calm yourself down. Read our blog How to Calm Interview Nerves to learn these tips and tricks.

How to Handle Awkward Interview Moments

Below is a list of moments that could go wrong when having an interview. We’ve created some sensible responses you could use after making these mistakes.

You badmouth a previous employer

Even if you don’t intend to, some things you say may seem disrespectful to your previous employer. You may have accidentally insulted your last place of work when describing a certain situation. It’s not the impression you want to give in your interview. But this mistake could make all the difference!

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

If you realise you’ve begun to badmouth your previous employer, don’t ignore it. Change the tone of the conversation by referring to yourself again. Get back to the topic at hand rather than your old boss. Try to stay positive and apologise to the interviewer for going off-topic. You can try to clarify what you meant if you’re confident you can. If not, don’t begin to try as you could dig the hole deeper!

You can’t answer a question

If you don’t understand a certain question in the interview, don’t babble a random answer. The interviewer probably knows which questions confuse people so will understand a hesitation. Whatever you do, don’t make something up.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

No matter how much you prepare for an interview, there may be a question that throws you. It’s not a problem to take a few moments to process the question. It might be enough time to generate a good answer. If not, tell the interviewer you don’t completely understand the question.  and they may help you by rephrasing it. Focus on the important stuff.

You start to babble

It’s easy to over-share. Once you get talking, things start to slip out – especially when under pressure. But the no one needs a whole autobiography about your life. The interviewer has had to ask these questions to lots of people and knows what they want to hear in the answer.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

When you start to realise you’re babbling, stop. Use the phrase “to go back to the question” to draw the interviewer’s attention back. Begin to talk about stuff relevant to the question like your skills and abilities. Other phrases can include “to return to the question” or “to come back to the question” or “to revisit the question”.

You swear

Even if your workplace allows obscenities, it’s never a good idea to go into an interview effing and jeffing. Not everyone is onboard with expressing emotions using profanities. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to swear in an interview. But sometimes these things slip out.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

Don’t try to ignore it. Don’t let an awkward silence follow it. Instead, apologise for your slip up and continue with whatever you were saying. Be polite and ensure the interviewer you don’t do it all that often!

Your phone goes off

Forgetting to silence your phone is an easy mistake to make. But having a loud distraction in an interview is not what you need. It’s also not a good impression to make on the interviewer. When your phone goes off, even if it’s just a loud buzz, it can be distracting and seen as ‘rude’.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

DON’T ANSWER IT. Acknowledge that it’s your phone and apologise for the interruption. Turn your phone off/put it on silent to avoid any more awkward moments. Don’t attempt to read the message or see who called. The interview should be your main and only focus.

You have a wardrobe malfunction

You may have been incredibly prepared with your outfit. Having washed and ironed it, you looked very smart…right up until the interview. You never know what can happen. You could spill coffee or rip your tights. Every outfit has the chance to be ruined as soon as you step out the door.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

Unless you’re super organised and have brought an extra outfit, you’re probably stuck with the mishap. Luckily, an apology to the interviewer will let them know it’s a one-off incident. Make a joke about the situation to ease your nerves.

You give a bad handshake

You can practise a handshake for hours but sometimes it will fail to hit the spot when in the real situation. Your initial handshake helps the interviewer to determine the type of person you are. Sweaty, shaky, limp handshakes aren’t good.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

You can’t turn back time, but you can choose not to dwell on it. Don’t let one mishap ruin the whole interview. Try to show confidence through your body language and conversation instead.

You become aware of your limbs

Normally, people aren’t overly conscious of their voice or limbs. But when in an interview situation, it’s sometimes the only thing you can focus on. It becomes all you can think about. You get distracted because you’re concerned about how your siting and how you’re speaking.

How to Handle the Awkward Moment

Practise answering questions and adjusting your body language beforehand. Get a friend or family member to give you suggestions on how you can improve. Trust yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Try not to overthink and focus on your answers.

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