Worst Case Scenario: Interview Survival Guide

The worst happens.  You forget to put your phone on silent and your mom calls during an interview.  You realize you’ve been nonstop chattering for 10 minutes.  Or the manager brings to your attention that your resume has a glaring error (YIKES!).  What do you do?  Cry?  Sprint for the door?  No!  You can salvage a potentially embarrassing situation by thinking on your feet.  Here are a few common interview goofs, and how you can overcome them.


Inopportune Phone Call

You swear you put your phone on silent - but it rings!

How to Deal: Quickly apologize, hit your phone so the sound stops, and continue the conversation.  If you don’t make it a big deal, usually neither will the recruiter.

How to Avoid: In the future, physically turn your phone off.  A mistaken alarm or calendar reminder may interrupt silent mode, so be sure to turn it off, as you wouldn’t be responding to calls or texts during this time anyway.


Chatterbox Alert

You suddenly realize you’ve went off on a tangent and don’t know how to get back on track.

How to Deal: Acknowledge that you’ve been rambling and apologize.  Say something simple like “I’m so sorry -- I’ve been talking too much.  Did I answer your question?”  And move on.

How to Avoid: Rehearse interview questions with an honest friend who will time your responses.  After 3-5 minutes - BEEP!  Move on to the next question.


Case of Mistaken Identity

You call your interviewer by the wrong name!

How to Deal: Quickly correct your mistake and move on.  “So Mary ------ I’m sorry, Martha, as I mentioned earlier, I managed a team during an acquisition ……”

How to Avoid: Ask for your interviewer’s name during the scheduling process so you can practice using his or her name during your responses.


Resume Gone Wrong

The interviewer calls out a mistake on your resume.  

How to Deal: Admit the mistake (whether it’s an incorrect date, job title, or typo) and verbally correct yourself.  If you want to tell a little white lie, like  “This must not be the most updated version!” then fine, but from experience, honesty is the best policy here.  I once interviewed a candidate who worked for the State of Pennsylvania, but spelled Pennsylvania wrong on his resume.  I called him out, he blushed and apologized and we both moved on to the next question. Be gracious with your error and it may be forgotten.

How to Avoid: Get a second pair of eyes on that baby!  Your resume is the most important document of your adult life (apart from maybe your birth certificate) and you want it to be perfect.  Don’t skimp on a professional review when it could literally mean the difference between an offer and a rejection.