How to Handle Damage Control on your Job Interview

How to Handle Damage Control on your Job Interview

How to Handle Damage Control on Your Job Interview

All interviews will not go perfectly, as much as we would like them to. This is why we need damage control. For example, let’s say you arrive at the interview and draw a blank when the receptionist asks with whom you’re meeting. It won’t look good if the receptionist later tells the interviewer. 


Here are some scenarios and fixes:

  1. Arriving late to an interview. Call the interviewer or the assistant to let them know you are running late. If you will be more than 15 minutes late, ask if it is still OK to come in or if you need to reschedule. You can always use the traffic as an excuse. If it’s an area you have never been in, say “I underestimated the traffic in this part of town,” or that certain roads were closed due to an accident or there was a flood.
  1. Can’t remember the name of the person you are meeting. There are a few things you can do to solve this problem. This is a pretty easy fix. Call the operator at the company and ask for the correct spelling of the person’s name. If you can’t remember the first or last name, then ask the name of the person under the title the person holds.
  1. Mispronouncing the name of the person you are meeting. The trick above normally works pretty well. When you call the receptionist and ask for the spelling of the interviewer’s name, also ask their pronunciation. Pay close attention to the way it is pronounced since some people might have a name that is hard to pronounce.  


  1. Spots or tears in your clothes. If you get to the interview and notice that have ugly spots or tears on your clothes and notice them when it’s too late, acknowledge it and get past it. Don’t whine too badly, just move on with the interview. If it’s an ugly spot, you can say you have lunch or breakfast, and spilled some food on your clothes, and didn’t have time to change or clean it up.
  1. Interviewer seems to have an attitude toward you. Keep your cool, and don’t say something you will regret. You never know who this person might know that you also know. Never burn bridges, even though you know you will not be getting the job. People are connected through different people and networks. Take the high road, and show that you have class and professionalism.
  1. You answer a question incorrectly. This is a tricky one. You will need to be at your sharpest here, in case you answer a question incorrectly or did not understand the question. If the interviewer seems perplexed or asks how you arrived at that response, you can say, “Sorry, I spoke incorrectly,” or, “Let me explain what I meant by that.” Asking them to politely repeat the question works too.


How to Handle Damage Control on Your Job Interview
How to determine if the interview was a success
  • Did you “click” with the interviewer, was there chemistry and rapport and a good back and forth?
  • Were you able to answer all the questions that the interviewer asked?
  • How would you rate the interview from 1 to 10. 1 being a disaster, and 10 being perfect.
  • Were you confident in the way you presented your questions and responses?
  • Did the interviewer ask you if an offer was made, when would you be available?
  • Did the interviewer ask you why you are looking to leave your current position?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your current salary expectations?
  • Did the interviewer ask you who you solve a particular problem if presented with an issue?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your proficiency in the job you are doing, and
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your role, and to give them an example of “A day in the life of”?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your drive to and from work, and if it would be a problem? This is normally asked for someone who is applying for a job that lives across town and has a longer than usual commute.
  • Did the interviewer ask you about remote work, or required travel for the position? This would be a pretty standard question for someone in a sales role.
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your leadership and management style, and why you use that style?
  • Did the interviewer explain what the position is about, what the job responsibilities are, and clear expectations for the position?
  • Did the interviewer tell you about the company, its history, what they do, who they sell products to, and why the position is open? This might be a position that just became open due to growth in the company, a new office was open, a manager is needed to manage a team, or that it’s a replacement position.

If it’s a replacement position, ask why the last person in this role resigned, was terminated or how long they were there. This should be a telling sign as to how long they keep their employees.   

  • Did the interviewer ask when you are available for a second or subsequent interview or when they want to schedule another interview?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your education, and how it relates to your position?
  • Did the interviewer ask you how you handle recalcitrant employees (If this is a management position)?

Rate each question above based on how the questions were asked (If they were asked), and how you responded. If you responded with detailed explanations, and the responses from the interviewer turned to “chitchat” of a personal nature about the interviewers likes…….say for example how their favorite football did (If you went to the same school they did for example), or their favorite places to vacation, etc., then this could be good sign.

Look for body language from the interviewer to give you a queue if the interview went well, or if it was an unsalvageable disaster. Always stay positive regardless of how it goes. Facial gestures give away a lot about how someone feels in an interview, and that could help you turn it around if you see a gloomy face on the other side of the table.