Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

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Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:57 pm

I had an interview today, and it was really fantastic. Lasted the entire morning, had some good conversation, thought I was holding my own pretty well. Maybe I am just being dramatic, but one Q was asked that I was unprepared for related to my skills. So I kind of skirted it to give myself time to think, and sort of "panicked" in my head and gave a half-ass answer that was, in retrospect, a little dumb. After that, I felt that the tone of the interview changed, like a dark cloud had settled over it.

Has anyone experienced this? Does that one Q not matter, and it's all in my head, or can one bad answer cause the job potential to sour? (I know I should not be worried like this and let it go, because what is done is done, but I honestly cannot help but worry and it's been distracting me all afternoon. I also know I sound like a loser, but in this economy, I want to make sure to do the best that I can when I can, and I feel like a failure not having done better at handling that Q today :( ) Any words of wisdom would really be appreciated! Has anyone had something like this happen and bounce back, or objectively, should I just accept that I messed up?

LOLyer
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby LOLyer » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:09 pm

Well you didn't provide much detail so I can't really give you a good analysis (although to be fair anything I say will be speculation, regardless). However, based on my fairly extensive experience with interviews, I can tell you that small mistakes can make a big impact. This is especially true if there is a lot of competition for the position. The tone of the interview is a big factor.

But don't worry: As far as jobs go, you're going to have good interviews and bad interviews. It's simple statistics. If you give your absolute best effort for everything you do, eventually something favorable will pan out.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby CanadianWolf » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:12 pm

Depends, in large part, on the specifics of the question & the answer. Without more, it's difficult to offer a meaningful opinion beyond yes, one bad or inappropriate answer can seriously affect an interview.

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eandy
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby eandy » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:13 pm

Accept that you messed up. It probably wasn't as bad as you think it was. For whatever reasons, I got offers from what I thought at the time were my worst interviews.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby tmgarvey » Thu Jul 12, 2012 10:25 pm

I wasn't there, didn't hear the question or how you answered it, or have any idea how big a deal it was in the context of this particular interview, with this particular person.

I can tell you this. The exact same thing happened to me in my last interview--I sort of blanked on one question and stumbled my way through it. The rest of the interview went well, but I was kicking myself afterward over that one response. Incidentally, my "problem question" also related to my skills.

I got the job.

Relax--almost everyone feels they could have done something differently--better--after the interview, and maybe they could have. But it doesn't mean you blew the interview.

Incidentally, I elaborated VERY briefly, in my thank-you note, on the answer I thought I didn't handle so well. Not by way of apologizing for not answering better--it was more like, "I've given some additional thought to 'x', and I would like to add that 'y'." Just pleasantly and factually stated in the course of thanking the interviewer for her time and once more expressing my interest in the job. Only you can decide whether that would be helpful in this particular case. Sometimes it's best not to call attention to something only you felt was inadequate.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:42 am

Thank you all so much. I ultimately did decide to take tmgarvey's advice and send a thank you note with an extended answer to the question weaved in! Having sent that note, I felt much better, because now I've done all I could to win this particular firm over (it's the #1 place I want to work, which only adds to the anxiety). At this point, if I did mess things up - that's life and I'll learn from it. But a lot of the stories about the worst-feeling interviews turning into the offers makes me feel much better in the meantime (at least until I get the rejection letter)!

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:43 am

yes, the post-interview email can be of help. It shows thoughtfulness - at least. or it could mitigate a bad answer.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:01 am

My $0.02: I would not recommend sending a long note to an interviewer supplementing or correcting an answer you gave to a question. They probably didn't notice the mistake and if they did they make a decision on you the second you walk out of the room, writeup a quick evaluation and go back to their work. Sending a followup note just draws attention to the mistake and is way too late. The whole point of the interview is to see how you think and interact with people in person without time to think or draft a thoughtful email. Its probably not a huge deal to do this once or twice but I would not advise this approach. Try to learn from the experience and think on your feet better next time.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby CanadianWolf » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:51 am

In my opinion, sending a brief follow-up e-mail was a wise move.

P.S. The interviewer probably noticed the awkward response.

tmgarvey
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby tmgarvey » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:26 pm

Well, good luck--I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Sometimes these things are a huge deal only in our own minds. If the info you added in your email filled a gap your interviewer had a concern about, the email may have put that concern to rest. I don't think that MOST interviewers are sadists who are looking to trip you up or to make one small mistake to knock you out of the running. They are looking to hire the best, most qualified person for that job--someone who will also be a good "fit" for their firm or agency. Sometimes adding additional relevant information in the course of a follow-up email will demonstrate your awareness of the importance of their interests, and your willingness to satisfy those concerns.

And I look at it the way you do--if you've done all you can to give it your best shot, that is all you can do. Not to mention the fact that even if someone else wins the offer on this round, if this is really where you want to work, you have a better shot at being considered when there is another opening in the future.

mrloblaw
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby mrloblaw » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:52 pm

While awkward moments are to be avoided where possible in interviews, there seems to be absolutely no correlation whatsoever between the interviews a law student feels good about and which ones lead to callbacks/offers.

They really play darts with the resumes or something to make their decisions.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:58 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:In my opinion, sending a brief follow-up e-mail was a wise move.

P.S. The interviewer probably noticed the awkward response.


I was just at SA event last week where interviewing partners were laughing at people who send email corrections to their in person interview answers. Probably shouldn't do this.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:10 pm

OP here. I have come to realize that everyone has a slightly different take on the same situation. The best part about hearing everyone's answers is knowing that so many people have been through the same thing and things turned out okay for them! I know that my e-mail may be received well, and it may not (it may very well get laughed at), but I am happy to have sent it regardless because in my own mind, I have now taken my last shot at this job opportunity, and I felt better all of last night after sending it (and still feel good about it). If someone laughs at me, I'm glad I've made their day! :D

There are other interviews to come, and accepting my own mistakes will probably get easier, right? For now, I really, really appreciate all of the input; at the very least, it gave me a real sense of relief.

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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby Anonymous User » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:21 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I have come to realize that everyone has a slightly different take on the same situation. The best part about hearing everyone's answers is knowing that so many people have been through the same thing and things turned out okay for them! I know that my e-mail may be received well, and it may not (it may very well get laughed at), but I am happy to have sent it regardless because in my own mind, I have now taken my last shot at this job opportunity, and I felt better all of last night after sending it (and still feel good about it). If someone laughs at me, I'm glad I've made their day! :D

There are other interviews to come, and accepting my own mistakes will probably get easier, right? For now, I really, really appreciate all of the input; at the very least, it gave me a real sense of relief.


Good for you. It's important to feel good about your decision. Everything about interviewing gets easier. Just give it time.

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piccolittle
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Re: Answered Q poorly at interview - am I screwed?!

Postby piccolittle » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:30 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here. I have come to realize that everyone has a slightly different take on the same situation. The best part about hearing everyone's answers is knowing that so many people have been through the same thing and things turned out okay for them! I know that my e-mail may be received well, and it may not (it may very well get laughed at), but I am happy to have sent it regardless because in my own mind, I have now taken my last shot at this job opportunity, and I felt better all of last night after sending it (and still feel good about it). If someone laughs at me, I'm glad I've made their day! :D

There are other interviews to come, and accepting my own mistakes will probably get easier, right? For now, I really, really appreciate all of the input; at the very least, it gave me a real sense of relief.

You have a great attitude! I hope you get every opportunity you want.




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