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Did You Fluff Up Your Job Interview?

18 May 2023

Have you ever been in a situation where you have been mid-interview and you realise you’ve either:

  • Said something actually quite silly
  • Given a bad example of past work experience, or
  • Totally forgotten to mention something vitally important?

This is not the disaster that it can first appear, though it can be unsettling and serve to knock your confidence at the time. There are very few mistakes that you can make in a job interview that are completely insurmountable, so try not to worry too much and think about the actions that you can take to rectify it instead.

Realising you’ve made a bad mistake can, in itself, be quite unsettling and can have the effect of making the rest of your interview quite uncomfortable. However, our advice for ensuring that doesn’t happen, and get you back on track for the job, is as follows:

  1. As soon as you realise you’ve fluffed, wait for the next natural pause in the proceedings (e.g. after you've answered a question).
  2. Ask your interviewer if you can go back over an earlier point or question
  3. Explain that you said something earlier that you’d like to either: 
  • clarify further (i.e. making the ‘something silly’ sound sensible)
  • Recap on an earlier question, and provide a more suitable example of your experience, or
  • Add something to an earlier answer that you omitted to include

Your interviewer should have no problem allowing you to rectify an issue, as it’s their job to help you give your best at the interview. So, once you get the nod, go ahead and say what you should have said in the first place. Once you’ve dealt with the mistake or omission, be sure to thank your interviewer for allowing you to interrupt. Once this has been taken care of, the interview can resume as normal.

Take a deep breath and have a sip of water if you need one and try to regain your composure. Interviews can be stressful but if you can show the interviewer that you are able to come back from the initial error more strongly, you will have their respect.

It can be daunting to have to correct a mistake but realising that it has happened and taking the necessary action to correct it is a mark of character, and potentially integrity, if you were correcting something that could have given a false impression to the interviewer about your past experiences.

In interviews you are not only marked on any errors that you make but on how you rectify them as well. This is a marker of the kind of person that you are. It will help them to decide if you are a good fit for the company and will give them more insight into your personality than many of the actual interview questions are able to offer.

Content yourself with knowing that many people have made mistakes in job interviews and that it is a very common thing, so you shouldn’t feel too bad about it. Practice makes perfect and you will get better at job interviews as you do more of them.