You show up late. There's a stain on your shirt. You accidentally insult the interviewer's mother.
All avoidable mistakes.
Sometimes, however, there simply isn't a clear explanation for why an interview isn't going well. Sometimes, no matter what you do or say, an interview just fizzles.
Don't panic -- you can save this interview.
The first step: Smile. Body language plays an important part in an interview. If you relax your shoulders and give a big ol'grin, you'll feel more comfortable ... and so will the interviewer. Smiling also helps increase your energy and project confidence -- all plusses in an interview.
While smiling is a good start to turning an interview around, there are other steps you can take.
Ask the Interviewer Questions
This is known as the "switcheroo."
If you feel that you just aren't giving the right answers to an interviewer's questions, try changing tactics -- and ask the interviewer a few questions of your own.
If you momentarily switch the focus from yourself to the interviewer, it will give you a chance to regroup and compose yourself. Also, it will make the interviewer do some talking, perhaps giving you a clue to what he or she is looking for.
Be sure to prepare your questions in advance and make sure they are appropriate. Some examples:
* What's your favorite thing about working at this company?
* How would you describe the working environment here?
* What's a typical day like in the department?
If an interviewer seems bored or cold while you're answering a question, all is not lost.
Stop and ask if your answer is going in the direction they're looking for. That way, you can avoid talking about the wrong things and begin talking about the right things.
Maybe you misunderstood the question. Or maybe the question wasn't phrased clearly. That doesn't mean you have to struggle -- just ask the interviewer for some clarification.
If you still feel like the interview is going poorly, ask if the interviewer has any concerns or questions regarding you as a candidate. That way, you can respond to any worries directly.
The key point to remember: If an interviewer is getting bored or appears distracted, cut your answer short and get some feedback.
Flattery Will Get You Everywhere
Everyone likes to feel good about themselves. Even interviewers.
So to put an interviewer in a better mood, offer a compliment.
Say a nice word or two about the company, the office's location, the view from the window -- something that will make the interviewer feel good. Paying a compliment also indicates you are a positive person, an attitude many hiring managers seek in candidates.
Giving a compliment about the company is especially useful, since it will offer you a chance to show that you did research on the company before the interview, proving you're well prepared.
A note of caution: Your compliments should not be too numerous, too obvious or too personal. If you suddenly begin gushing about how GREAT the interviewer's haircut is, the interviewer will see right through your charade. Better to keep your compliment simple and safe, such as saying how friendly everyone seems to be.
You May Not Be the Problem
If you feel like you've done everything possible to succeed in your interview but you're still getting the cold shoulder, then follow this advice: Just do your best and move on.
Perhaps the interviewer fought with his or her spouse that morning, or perhaps the interviewer is sick. Or perhaps, for no reason, the interviewer is just in a foul mood.
There are innumerable reasons why an interviewer may have been in a bad mood ... many of which have nothing to do with you. Interviewers are people too and everyone has bad days.
So remember to trust yourself and not let it get you down. Just do the best you can and try not to worry about things you can't control.