JOB NIGHTMARES: Making a terrible mistake in a job interview can happen all too easily. Is there anything you can do about it afterwards?
The first thing to do is to apologize, career experts say, although they warn that most people are not given a chance for a “do-over”. Consultant Susan Peppercorn of ClearRock Inc. in Boston says it is vital for job candidates to show that they have qualities and skills that will benefit the employer. “The key to any redo is, what can you do for the company?” Peppercorn told The Wall Street Journal.
When one of her clients was rejected after a promising job interview, Peppercorn suggested he should send an email to the hiring manager apologizing and asking for feedback. The client wrote that he had used the company’s products since childhood, adding: “If you give me another chance, you won’t be disappointed. I’ll show you I can do what you’re looking for.” He was asked in for more interviews and got the job.
Career coach Robert Hellmann, of the Five O’Clock Club in New York City, says it is important to provide additional information. “You have to give them something new,” Hellmann explains. This could be work samples or details of past successes.
“The key to any redo is, what can you do for the company?” Susan Peppercorn
To try to avoid unsatisfying experiences in future, Hellmann suggests asking questions at the end of job interviews. For example, a candidate could ask the interviewer: “How do I compare with others you’re considering for the job?” You could also ask for feedback via email, he says.
Requests for do-overs are not always successful, according to Greg Zippi, president of DecisionWise consultants in Springville, Utah. Some years ago, Zippi gave a convoluted answer to a question about his willingness to travel for a job. The hiring manager rejected him. Zippi sent a follow-up email. “I fell on my sword, saying, ‘I apologize if I confused you’.” Despite telling the manager he was willing to travel, his candidacy was rejected.
Taking too much for granted can also lead to disappointment, says Tom Borghesi, chief operating officer at Open Systems Technologies. At a previous company, Borghesi had successfully completed a number of interviews. When he was invited to meet a senior executive at the firm, he assumed it was informal, and showed up wearing casual clothing. Instead, the executive grilled him on his CV and left the meeting early. “That did not go well,” Borghesi remembers thinking. So he called the executive, apologized profusely and asked for another interview. This time, he dressed and behaved appropriately — and got the job.