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What to do when we realize we provided the wrong interview answer

wrong interview answer

Uhh yeah, wrong answer. How do you recover?

Wrong Interview Answer

What do you do when you realize that you provided the wrong interview answer? What do you do when you realize we could have answered an interview question more effectively after we have left the interview.

We have all done it. We are in the job interview and things are going well. Then, we are asked a question that we aren’t prepared for. We get through the question, but know that we could have done better. Later that evening, we figure out how we should have answered the question. But it’s too late. F###KKK ME! WHAT WAS I THINKING???? I KNEW THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION!

Surprise!

The best thing we can do will probably surprise you. Instead of laying awake at night killing yourself internally, get out of bed and send the hiring manager an email. You did get their business card right? Be candid, explain that we thought about our answer and realize we want to add more context.

We aren’t going to apologize or make excuses. What we are going to do is send a business email as if we were already employed. We are following up on a topic with our manager after a meeting where we want to add more clarity. 

Some candidates will feel like this is admitting a mistake and they won’t want to do this. I get this. I have one word for you. “uhhh, that’d be wrong”. OK, that was 4 words. I am in HR, not accounting. Some readers are thinking the worst. “The hiring company is going to think I Googled my revised interview answer won’t mean shit.”  Well, if you are employed by this company and you don’t know something, you are going to Google it from the comfort of your company desk. This is the desired behavior. 

If you are fearful that your original interview answer blew the deal, what do you have to lose? Make moves son! 

Think about this problem differently

When we are working for the company and forget to mention something to our manager, we wouldn’t ignore it and move on. We would hit up our manager and explain, “I was thinking about our earlier conversation. . . ” and provide the updated information.

If we realized we were dead wrong about the information we provided to our manager, we wouldn’t ignore this. We would make sure we updated our manager. Based on my experience, I have never run into a manager who had doubt about this move. 

  1. Hiring managers love it when a candidate leaves the interview and is still thinking about the tough interview question. This is an indication that they are going to continue to think about work challenges after 5:00.
  2. Candidates sometimes think that because they were asked a number of questions that their one miss will go unnoticed. Sometimes they feel like they answered 14 out of 15 questions really well and the 15th won’t make a big difference.

The hiring manager noticed

Trust us, nothing went unnoticed. Everything was noticed. Can your kid pull the wool over your eyes? If your shoes were scuffed it was noticed. Just because the interviewer didn’t say anything or didn’t act like they noticed your wrong interview answer, they noticed. Interviewers want all candidates to think they did a great job because they want the candidate to want the job. The hiring company wants the candidate to go back to their friends and family, talking up the company and the position in an excited manner.

If the candidate doesn’t feel like they did a great job in the interview, they won’t be emotionally invested in the interview. Hiring companies don’t need bad press shared with the candidate’s peers. “I blew the interview, but it wasn’t that great a company. They were pretty stuck up” is not how hiring companies want to be described at the dinner table.

If the hiring company didn’t like your interview answer and is leaning towards a decision to decline you, then we have nothing to lose by following up with a corrective action email. Take the bull by the horns. Be the hammer, not the nail. Here is my gift to you. The template. 

 

Mr. Hiring Manager

Thank you for taking the time meet with me regarding the ____________________ position. After talking with you today, I am more excited about the opportunity. Specifically, I am excited about __________________________.

One of the interview questions that was asked was ___________________________ . I couldn’t help but continue to consider this question after I left the interview. After thinking about it for some length, I would like to add the following. _________________________.

Again, I enjoyed learning more about (Company Name), the opportunity and look forward to hearing from you about next steps.

 

Sincerely,

HRN

 

Next time you are regretting a wrong interview answer or completely forgot an answer, send the email. What do you have to lose?

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

 

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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