Interview CPR: Quick Fixes for 6 Interview Disasters (+ the #1 Interview Lifesaver)

Crisis: You accidentally said the wrong name of the interviewer/company.
Think of it like being on a first date with somebody. If you call your date Chad, only to realize that his name is Charlie... it makes for an “awkward turtle” kind of moment. Aside from being awkward, name slip-ups clearly show that you have somebody else on your mind. Interviews are the same way. Calling the interviewer the wrong name or mispronouncing the company's name immediately shows a lack of commitment to where you are that moment.

Crisis Averted
While name blunders make for a less than perfect beginning of the interview, they're not the end of the world (or the opportunity). Goldfeder says, "I tell students that it is only natural to be nervous and that a bit of nervousness shows that you are taking the interview seriously." Especially when you're on the hunt for a new job, it's understandable that you will have your fair share of interviews in a short period of time. If the interviewer calls attention to your mistake, Goldfeder suggests that you say something along the lines of: "I'm sorry this interview means so much to me that I guess I'm a bit nervous. I am truly very excited about the opportunity available at [insert correct name here]." After that, move on with poise and confidence.

Crisis: You are totally unqualified for/no longer interested in the job.
Interviews are not solely about the interviewer getting to know you; it's also your opportunity to see if you are a good fit for the position. Sometimes during an interview, it becomes very clear that you are either A) not qualified for the position you are being interviewed for, or B) no longer interested in the position. Scarlett, a collegiette from the University of Connecticut, remembers, "I was interviewing for an internship when I realized about halfway through the conversation that I would be beyond bored if I had to spend my summer there. I just didn't click with the company's environment."

Crisis Averted
It's totally okay to recognize that you are not the person to fill a certain job. After all, it's better to realize that you're not fit for something right away than try to make it work and end up with a job you hate five months later. In the event that your credentials seem lacking but you are still sincerely interested in the position, Goldfeder suggests, " should still try to prove that you are very eager to learn the skills required for the job. You can also give examples that show you are a fast learner."

If you're definitely not interested in the position that you interviewed for, there is an easy way to remedy this. Politely tell your interviewer why you changed your mind (e.g., not qualified, not a fit for the work environment, etc.), but be sure to thank them for their time and the opportunity. If it is clear that they are not in a hurry or there are no other interviewees after you, you can feel free to use the rest of the interview to your benefit. Ask your interviewer if there was anything that you could improve upon for your next interview, or if there was anything that made you stand out in a good (or bad) way to potential employers.

The Thank You Note (aka Every Collegiette's Lifesaver)
Never underestimate the power of a well-written thank you note (check out how to write the perfect thank you note. If all else fails (even if the interview went perfectly), as a polite collegiette™ you should always follow up your interview with a kindly worded note, thanking the interviewer for their time and consideration. Maggie Scotilla, a career counselor at Penn State University, adds that a thank you note is a good way to, "make sure to reiterate your interest in the position," especially if something went wrong during your interview! You should send a thank you email within 24 hours of your interview, and then be sure to follow this up with a handwritten one within a week.

Now get out there and rock that interview! 

Donna Goldfeder, Director of Career Services, Lehigh University
Katie, student at Cornell University
Maggie Scotilla, Career Counselor, Penn State Career Services
Scarlett, student at The University of Connecticut
College women from across the country


Emily Grier is currently a sophomore at Penn State University. She loves all things Nittany Lions, however she readily admits to being a complete Connecticut girl at heart. There's nothing she enjoys more than autumn in New England, holiday lattes from Starbucks, "Gilmore Girls", and strawberry cupcakes from Crumbs bakeshop. Although she's intending on majoring in accounting with a minor in business law, writing remains a true passion of hers. In addition to writing for Her Campus, Emily has been published on the USA TODAY College Blog and is a staff writer for Valley magazine, Penn State's life and style magazine.

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