In just a few hours, all your excitement and hope fell apart in a terrible graduate interview. Maybe you were so nervous that the whole ordeal is just a blur. Maybe you stammered through some responses or fell flat on a test. Right now, things look bleak. But they needn’t stay that way. Read on for some ideas about how you can gain some perspective on a bad graduate interview and reclaim the drive that will give you another, better chance at finding the graduate job that’s right for you.
Don’t dwell on it
This is easier said than done for some of us, but it’s important not to spend too much time picking over your mistakes and analysing your performance. What’s done is done, and precious little is under your control at this point. The graduate interview stage is wildly unpredictable. You could have had a tremendous graduate interview and lost out to someone whose performance was just slightly better. You might truly have fallen on your face, and your competition might have, as well. There’s no way to know. You did well to reach the graduate interview stage in the first place, and now what’s done is done. When you’re ready to evaluate your performance with a clear eye, you’ll do so. Until then, fume a bit, then turn your mind to something else. When you revisit your graduate interview performance, you’ll be ready to make the best use of it before chalking it up as just one silly bump on the road to your dream job.
Record all the questions you were asked
While the interview is still (painfully) fresh in your memory, take a few moments to write down the questions you were asked, particularly those that caused you to stumble. When you’re ready, you’ll be able to reflect a bit, do a little research, and prepare the ideal response to every single question that tripped you up. You might even keep a log of the questions you’ve answered well, and create a sort of dossier that you can use to prepare for your next graduate interview. Before long, you’ll notice that most graduate interviews are similar, with just a few wrinkles. A formal log of graduate interview questions you’ll face early and often, will help you enter your next interview with more confidence, poise, and polish.
Ask your interviewers for their opinions
After you’ve shaken off your emotional response to a bad graduate interview, it’s time to assess your performance. And let’s face it: your opinion means less in this situation than those of your interviewers. Once you receive official word that you won’t be offered the role you sought, it’s time to take a deep breath and contact the person who led the interview to ask for a candid appraisal of your performance. Their response will probably surprise you, at least in some respects.
Your nervousness might not have been the deciding factor; on the other hand, you might have overlooked a mistake or two, or failed to take an important factor into consideration. Take this feedback seriously. If your industry knowledge isn’t what it could be, start learning more about the work you’d like to do. If your background seemed thin, look for ways to build your CV.
Once you’ve received your feedback, take note of everything and meet with a mentor for advice. They can help prepare you well for the next graduate interview by using the list of questions you noted and the feedback you received, it’s a no-brainer as there are so many benefits of mentoring for a graduate!
Your questions count, too
All of your preparation for your graduate interview was predicated on your desire to land a job. But employers have to impress you as well. After all, every day a role goes unfilled, an organisation goes without someone it needs to fulfil its strategic goals. It’s just possible that an unsuccessful graduate interview wasn’t entirely your fault. After you learn that you won’t be offered a role, take a step back and ask yourself what you liked about the organisation and what you didn’t. Did the interview promote the good and address the bad? If not, you might have saved yourself some trouble in the long run. While we’re on the topic, this is a good time to remind you that it’s never inappropriate to ask questions about the role for which you’re interviewing, the salary and benefits you seek, and the organisation’s overall culture.
Hang in there!
Very few people find their ideal job on the first go. You’ve had a setback, and it might not be your last, but you’re in good company. Most of us fail at least a few times before landing a job, but not everyone learns all they can from adversity. You’ll set yourself apart if you stay on track, continue to your graduate job applications for roles, and take every bit of value you can from each failure. As you gain experience, you’ll find more suitable jobs more quickly, interview more effectively, and put yourself more assuredly in control of your own fortunes. You might even find yourself with a job-clinching story or two to tell at your next graduate interview!