What to Do After a Bad Job Interview

3 minute read

Most people will experience a bad job interview at some point. And it can feel pretty horrible. But in their own way, bad interviews are as valuable as good ones. They can help you build resilience, identify your weaknesses, and address gaps in your knowledge and skills. It’s what you do after a bad interview that matters. Here are our tips. 


Reflect on the interview

Try to sit with the experience for a while and let it settle in your mind. Then you can begin to reflect on what went wrong. Were you nervous? Underprepared? Did you find it hard to gel with the interviewers? Or maybe your mind just went blank?  

Recalling the awkwardness of the situation might make you wince. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Processing the experience is the first step towards learning from it and avoiding it in future. 


Don’t be hard on yourself

It can be easy to let your inner critic get the better of you. But don’t let it scupper your chances. Was the interview really that bad? If, on reflection, you feel you answered a couple of questions terribly but did OK otherwise, there’s no harm in emailing the hiring manager to clarify those answers. Perhaps a glaringly obvious example has only occurred to you after the interview! 

A bad job interview can also be a sign that that particular charity isn’t the right fit for you. Maybe the atmosphere felt wrong somehow―if so, trust your instinct and move on. 

Make notes

As soon as possible after the interview, write down all the questions you were asked while they’re still fresh in your mind. (This is good practice for any interview, whether it went well or not.) Highlight the ones you feel you didn’t answer well.  

This will be so useful to refer back to later―you can use it to focus your preparation for future interviews. Now you’ll have the space to brainstorm how you’d answer those trickier questions if you’d had more time.  


Don’t burn your bridges

Be sure to email the interviewer to thank them for their time as you normally would. Maintaining a respectful and courteous relationship is an important part of being professional. It also means the door isn’t closed to you if you decide to apply for another role at the same charity in the future. 


Give yourself time to recover

The job search can be gruelling. It’s important to pace yourself and look after your mental health. Make sure you do something to unwind after the interview. That might be going to the gym, cinema or the pub with friends, or just watching TV―do whatever relaxes you. 

Remember that having a bad job interview is a common experience (and a useful one in the long run, though it may be hard to see that at the moment). You may want to chat it through with a trusted friend or family member. And see our tips on how to deal with rejection. 

Take feedback on board

The recruiter should send you feedback―if they don’t, make sure you ask them for some. Respond graciously to constructive criticism, and take it on board carefully. Ultimately, this is what makes a bad interview worthwhile, transforming an initial disappointment into a useful learning experience. 


Develop your skills and experience

Depending on what you felt the issues were and what the recruiter’s feedback was, further development may be helpful. There may be opportunities in your current role, whether taking on a new project or seeing if training is available. If you’re applying for something a bit different, consider upskilling with courses or volunteering in your spare time. For example, see our advice on how to develop your soft skills and how to upskill yourself in digital marketing. 

And of course, interviews themselves are the most effective practice for interviews! So…  


Keep going

Don’t let a bad job interview put you off applying for similar roles. In fact, you’re now better placed than ever to succeed, because you know your blind spots. 

Ready to continue the job search and secure your next interview? Browse jobs today. 

Tomas René

Tomas is Senior Content Manager (maternity cover) at CharityJob.

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