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How to Follow Up After an Awkward Interview

How to Follow Up After an Awkward Interview

Making the best of your awkward job interview.

By Gladys Stone & Fred Whelan, Monster Contributing Writers

May 25, 2011

Have you ever left an interview knowing something went awry? It can happen for a variety of reasons: Your gut tells you that this is not where you want to work, you had an uncomfortable exchange with the interviewer, or you forgot the interviewer’s name altogether.

Here are tips for following up after different awkward interview situations:

You Don’t Like the Hiring Manager

Chemistry with your boss is pretty important if you want to be successful, and if that chemistry isn’t there, you can’t ignore it. In this situation, send a carefully worded email to the person you interviewed with. Thank him for his time and let him know you were impressed with the company. To avoid any miscommunication, convey that you don’t feel this is the right position for you. However, leave the door open for future opportunities by making it clear that you would like to be considered for other positions within the company. Never burn any bridges.

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You Don’t Like the Job or the Company

No matter how qualified you are for the position, there will be times when you just know that you and the company are not a good match. Perhaps after learning more about the position, you decide it isn’t right for you. Or you discover after some research and the face-to-face interview that the company is not to your liking. When sending an interview thank-you letter, express gratitude for the interviewer’s time and gracefully bow out of the competition for the position.

You Forgot the Interviewer’s Name

Somehow, you walked out of the interview neglecting to jot down notes or get a business card from the interviewer. You want to send the interviewer a personal interview thank-you note but don’t remember her name. An easy solution is to check with the recruiter, who can supply that person’s name and contact information. If a recruiter was not involved but you remember the interviewer’s title or department, call the company’s operator and ask for the person’s name (and spelling).

The ‘Once in a Million’ Coincidence

As this implies, it almost never happens, but we know of rare occasions in which the candidate has had some negative interaction with the interviewer prior to the interview. There could have been impolite comments exchanged on the elevator on the way to the interviewer’s office or when you were both waiting in line at Starbucks. What horror it is to see that person sitting behind the desk when you come in for the interview!

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The best way to address this is to tackle it head-on. Before the “official” interview questions start, acknowledge the unfortunate incident that took place earlier and apologize if appropriate. Make clear that you don’t want it to negatively influence the interview.

In your thank-you note, acknowledge that there was some unpleasantness between the two of you prior to the interview. Indicate that you’d like to put that aside and move forward with the possibility of working for the company.

Interviewing for a job can lead to all kinds of unexpected situations. The key is not to get flustered. There is always a way to recover from an awkward interview so that you end up in a positive light and leave the door open for future interactions.

This article was originally published on Monster.com.


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