How to Recover from An Interview Disaster

How to Recover from An Interview Disaster

A job interview is a stressful experience, and it can be easy to get rattled. Most of us have unfortunately had an interviewing blunder – after all, it’s part of the process. Whether it was a missed opportunity to share one of your skill sets, a question you weren’t prepared to answer, or something completely slipped your mind; it happens to the best of us. So, can you redeem yourself post-interview to save your chances of landing a new opportunity? Here is how you recover from an interview disaster to approach this predicament with grace.

Stay calm

If you catch yourself in the middle of an interview disaster, the first step is to stay calm. Panicking or overreacting will only make the situation worse. Everybody makes mistakes and what matters is how you recover from them. If you make a mistake in an interview, take a moment to compose yourself before you act. If you get worked up or rush to try to redeem yourself, you may dig yourself a deeper hole.

Buy yourself a few moments

If you get yourself in a pickle during your interview, you can do some damage control during your meeting. For example, if an interview question stumps you, you can buy yourself some time instead of panicking, trying to formulate a lackluster answer. To do this, ask your interviewer to repeat the question, ask a clarification question, or even request a moment to think. So, if an interviewer asks you a tricky question, you can stall a bit by saying something like, “That’s a really great question. I have actually never been asked that before.” Even a quick couple of sentences like that can buy you enough time to formulate a response without providing a filibuster answer.

If you make a mistake, redeem yourself immediately

If you do make a mistake, redeem yourself immediately. Whether it’s a question you can’t answer, or you forget to tie in a skill set or project while answering a question, remedy the interview disaster ASAP. For example, we recently interviewed an intern here at JSG. We asked about a certificate listed on their resume, and they couldn’t tell us anything they learned from the course. They sent a follow-up email three days later apologizing again and providing some details on the certification, but it was too little, too late.

They did the right thing by emailing the team and providing some insight on this certification, but they should have done it the same day. In that three-day span, we interviewed several excellent candidates, and unfortunately, this interviewee didn’t make the cut. Therefore, if you find yourself in this situation, the right move is to send an email and clarify a response or provide more information. However, you must do so as soon as humanly possible to recover from an interview disaster.

Learn from your interview disaster

The best way to recover from an interview disaster is to learn from it. It is unfortunate, and depending on the mistake, it can cost you your chances of landing the job. However, as long as you learn from your mishap, it isn’t a complete failure. You will be ready mentally and physically if this situation arrives again and be able to recover from it in the future. The great John Wooden summed this up perfectly when he said, “Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be.”

If you are looking for more interviewing advice, review our candidate resources! We have dozens of helpful tips and advice to help you nail the interview and receive that much-deserved job offer.

Five Video Interview Mistakes to Avoid this Year

Five Video Interview Mistakes to Avoid this Year

As employers begin their return to the office or working onsite, virtual interviewing is here to stay. Even when the virus is in the rearview mirror, most employers will rely on video interviews to streamline the hiring process, cut hiring costs, and expand their talent pools. With this newly adopted interviewing format, here are five video interview mistakes to avoid this year.

Joining the video interview late

Like a traditional face-to-face interview, the last thing you want to do is arrive late. Being tardy for your meeting is one of the biggest video interview mistakes you can make. If you are interviewing at home, you have no excuses to be punctual. You don’t have to drive or take public transportation to the meeting, find the right office, and arrive on time. Launch the video interview application a few minutes before your meeting to ensure you are on time. Starting your interview a few minutes late will create some unnecessary stress and derail your entire interview.

Not familiarizing yourself with the technology

Familiarizing yourself with the technology is as important as logging into the video application early. Logging on early does you no good if you have no idea how to navigate the technology. You don’t want to be fumbling around on your computer trying to fix your audio, turn on your camera, or remove a silly video filter. Many mainstream video technologies like Zoom or Microsoft Teams are similar; however, if you never used the application before, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with it before your interview.

Surrounding yourself with distractions

Another video interview mistake to avoid is not eliminating distractions. You must eliminate things that will distract you from performing your best and remove anything that may distract your interviewers. That means interviewing in a quiet, well-lit room with a clean background. Keep your kids and pets distracted for the meeting with their favorite show or a new treat, and clean the space around you. Practicing with the technology beforehand will help you identify anything you need to remove from your interviewing area that might cause an unwanted distraction.

Showcasing poor communication skills

If you want your interview to result in a job offer, you must showcase excellent communication skills (especially if this is for a remote opportunity). Sometimes, it can be challenging to facilitate a conversation over a video call. The key to ensuring strong communication skills is listening. Instead of jumping at every chance to speak, listen to your interviewer. Listen intently to understand their questions, wait a few seconds after they finish talking to avoid any interruptions, and ask follow-up questions. It is essential to be engaging, ask thoughtful questions, and answer their questions in detail.

Not sending a thank-you email

Finally, one of the most common video interview mistakes is failing to send a thank you email afterward. Just like a traditional interview, you must always send a thank you note. Bonus points if you can send one to everyone on the video call. Since you are at home, you have the luxury of quickly jotting down the names of each interviewer to send them a personalized thank you message.

Here is a guide on how to craft the perfect virtual interview thank-you note.

Interview Questions For Every Stage Of The Interview Process

Interview Questions For Every Stage Of The Interview Process

If you’ve spent any time on our blog at all, you know you need to ask questions during your interviews. However, it can be challenging to determine which questions to ask at which stage. Modern interviews feature anywhere from one to eight different interviews for one job. And the questions you ask during the initial phone screen should be different from the questions you ask at a final interview. Today, we’re breaking down the differences and laying out interview questions for every stage of the process.

Initial Phone Screen Interview Questions

The initial phone screen might not even be with the actual hiring manager, so it’s not the time to get into the nitty-gritty details. However, it is an excellent opportunity to get any further clarification on the position, company, or work environment. Here are a few examples of great interview questions to ask during your initial phone screen.

  • Can you provide some more information about this aspect of the job?
  • Is this position in office, remote, or hybrid?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • What is the next step in the interview process?
  • When can I expect to hear about the next step?
  • Is there anything else I can share about my experience or qualifications?

Face-to-Face Interview Questions

When you have a face-to-face interview, things are getting a bit more serious. You’re most likely meeting with the hiring manager or maybe even additional team members at this stage. Whether it’s in-person or over video chat, it’s the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the job’s duties and the team’s culture. Here are a couple of great questions to ask during a face-to-face interview.

  • How can I make an immediate impact in this position?
  • Who will I be working with most closely?
  • Are there opportunities for professional development?
  • What is the company or team’s management style?
  • What is most challenging about this job?
  • What is your favorite part about working here?

Final Interview Questions

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You are in strong consideration for the role, so this is the perfect time to really wow the interviewer with some great questions. At this point, you can really get into the details of what it would look like for you to be in this role and how you personally would fit in with the team. Here are a few bold questions you can ask during a final interview to leave a lasting impression.

  • What are the performance metrics for this role?
  • How will expectations and feedback be communicated for this position?
  • How do I compare to other candidates interviewing for this job?
  • What would you say are the most important skills for a successful person in this position to have?
  • How does this position contribute to the larger goals of the organization?
  • How would you describe your department’s culture?
  • If I were to be hired for this position, when would you like me to start?

These are just a handful of questions you can ask at each stage of the interview process. Keep in mind that it’s best to also incorporate questions that arise during your interviews, and don’t be afraid to circle back to something you need more information on. And if you’re interested in more interview advice, check out our interview prep and advice resources to increase your interview knowledge and boost your confidence.

How to Prepare for A Phone Interview in 2021

How to Prepare for A Phone Interview in 2021

Congratulations! Your hard work is paying off, and you are finally getting some traction with your job search. You have a phone interview scheduled, and you are starting to get a little anxious. Don’t fret – with a bit of preparation and practice, you can enter your conversation feeling confident. If you are looking for a refresher course on how to prepare for a phone interview, here are five simple tips to make an excellent impression on the hiring manager.

Set up a professional voicemail

When was the last time you reviewed your voicemail? We typically don’t call ourselves, so your voicemail might be out of date or a little too casual. Take a few minutes to listen to your voicemail and update it if necessary. Make sure it’s professional yet friendly and that there is no background noise. You never know when you for some reason might miss an interview call or play phone tag with each other. 

Check your battery and cell reception

Since you will probably be using your cell phone during your phone interview, make sure the battery is fully charged. The last thing you want to happen is your phone to die halfway through your conversation. Have the battery charged up and silent your phone to not receive any distracting notifications buzzing in your ear. Also, ensure your phone reception is strong, so the call quality is impeccable. Your voice must come out crystal clear, and for you, you must have strong enough service to be able to hear your interviewer without any hiccups.

Have important documents at the ready

Since you can have this phone interview in your home, you can access important application documents. You can pull up your resume, cover letter, job description, the company website, and other essential documents. If you do this on your computer, close all your other windows and mute your computer so you can silently switch between them. If you want to print them out, have them organized so you aren’t struggling to shuffle through them on the phone. Having these documents at the ready can help you brilliantly answer any questions that might otherwise catch you off guard.

Take notes

During your phone interview, you should be taking notes. Jot down important things the hiring manager says or something you want to discuss further in your interview. In an interview, time flies by, and you can easily forget an excellent question as quickly as you can formulate it. Have a notepad and pen within arm’s reach to write down notes, questions, or anything else you might find valuable throughout the interviewing process.

Show enthusiasm in your voice

A crucial part of a traditional face-to-face interview is body language – nodding your head, smiling, and other non-verbal cues that illustrate your excitement and personality. In a phone interview, you don’t have this opportunity, so you must demonstrate your enthusiasm in your voice. To make sure there is excitement in your voice, don’t forget to smile! It’s true what they say; you can hear someone smiling in their voice. Also, remember it is okay to laugh if there is a funny moment in your interview.

Are you looking for more interview advice?

With social distancing and more people working from home, you can almost bet one of your interviews will be conducted through the phone. These are just a few easy ways you can prepare for a phone interview in 2021. If you are looking for more interview advice, check out our interview insight page for dozens of helpful tips, tricks, and suggestions to nail your interview!

5 COVID Questions To Ask At Your Next Interview

5 COVID Questions To Ask At Your Next Interview

It’s important that you show up to any interview with a few great questions at the ready. However, in today’s day and age, those questions may look a little bit different. There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic is on everybody’s mind. And that doesn’t change just because you’re looking for a new job! If COVID-19 policies and procedures are a priority for you (and they should be), it is perfectly acceptable to ask COVID-related questions during your interview. As always, read the room to gauge which questions would be most appropriate. Here are five possible COVID questions you can ask at your next interview.

How has COVID-19 impacted your company?

No matter what industry they are in, their company’s size, or the role you’re interviewing for, the company has most certainly been impacted by COVID-19. Work may have slowed or stopped altogether, they may have shifted to remote work, or the company may have even implemented layoffs and furloughs. What you’re looking for in the interviewer’s answer here is transparency. You should not expect them to have handled it perfectly; that is unrealistic. However, if they are transparent about the struggles they experienced, that’s a good sign that they’ll be transparent with employees!

Will I be expected to come into the office, or are you offering remote work?

Hopefully, this was covered earlier in the interview. However, if it wasn’t, it’s essential to address it! Additionally, you can gain further clarification into their remote work policies. Is it temporary? How much flexibility do they offer? Are employees expected to secure additional childcare when working from home?

What are your COVID-19 procedures?

This is a great lead-in question to discuss COVID-19 safety measures. If the company requires employees to work in-office, are they following social distancing guidelines, providing hand sanitizer, and adhering to mask requirements? Additionally, you’ll want to understand their procedures if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. Do they require all employees to quarantine? Is it possible to complete your work while quarantined? The interviewer’s answers to this challenging question will give you a glimpse into how much they prioritize their staff’s health.

How has COVID-19 affected your vacation and sick leave policies?

Prior to the pandemic, it was utterly taboo to ask about paid time off during the interview. However, things have changed in the past year! COVID-19 has forced many companies to rethink their traditional vacation and sick leave policies. With a minimum self-isolation period of 10 days after exposure, you could burn through traditional PTO very quickly if they haven’t made accommodations. Just be sure to frame the question as above rather than the greedy “how many vacation days would I get?”

What have you done to support employees working from home?

Lastly, if the company is allowing employees to work from home, please ask more about it! Starting a new job isn’t easy, and it’s intimidating if you’re in a traditional office setting, not to mention working from home during a global pandemic without having met anyone in person! You will want to hear that they have established a remote onboarding program, prioritize employee development, and make significant efforts to decrease isolation through various communication software.

As we mentioned above, it’s impossible to expect picture-perfect answers to these challenging COVID questions. Instead, look for transparency, organization, and active actions. And remember, it’s okay for you to prioritize your health and safety during an interview! If you want to feel extra prepared for your Coronavirus-era interview, explore our candidate resources for more tips and tricks!

5 Signs You Nailed Your Interview

5 Signs You Nailed Your Interview

Usually, it is pretty easy to know when an interview is going well, and when it’s going not so well. As a human being with emotional intelligence, you can typically understand how well you are doing in an interview based on verbal and non-verbal cues. However, there are a few signals that indicate your interview is going extraordinarily well, like receiving a job offer well. Here are five signs you nailed your interview.

Body language is indicating excitement

Positive body language is one of the easiest signs indicating you nailed your interview. When your interviewer has a big smile on their face, nodding their head in agreement, and genuinely looks interested in what you are saying, those are all strong signs the interview is going well. It’s easy to tell when a hiring manager isn’t engaged or looks bored. Positive body language is a sure sign that they like what you are saying and that your meeting is going well.

The conversation turns more causal

When your conversation turns more casual, that is a strong indication you are nailing your interview. If your conversation transitions from a formal business meeting to more of a back-and-forth conversation, they like what they hear! It might be some small talk or bouncing ideas off of each other. Either way, when the interview transitions from question and answer to conversational, you’re doing great!

The interviewer keeps bringing people in

If your interviewer says something on the lines of, “Let me grab [co-worker name] or “I want you to meet [co-worker name], you should be feeling confident! Your interviewer would not waste their co-workers’ time by bringing them into your interview if they weren’t excited about you. If they show you around and actively introduce you to others or have other people join mid-way through your meeting, you are rocking it! If this is happening, your interviewer wants other decision-makers to weigh in on your candidacy.

You start hearing “when” instead of “if”

When your interviewer is using words like “when,” “us,” or “our,” it’s going well. For example, if they say, “when you receive your background check” or “this is where our team often meets,” that is a strong sign they are already picturing you in the position. If they believe you are a good fit for the job, they may start unintentionally use language that illustrates it’s only a matter of time until you are part of the team.

They give you clues on the next steps

Towards the end of your interview, if the hiring manager starts cluing you in on the next steps, that shows you are nailing it. If they start talking about onboarding, the second round of interviews, or a timeline for a hiring decision, it shows they have an interest in you. Your interviewer would not bother sharing those details unless you were at the top of their list. So, if your interviewer starts voluntarily sharing the next steps, that is an excellent sign you’re nailing your interview.

Need more interview advice?

These are five signs that you nailed your interview. Obviously, none of these signs guarantee you a job offer, but they are generally good hints that you did well. If you are looking for more interview advice, check out our candidate resources on the JSG blog!

questions you should as in your next interview

4 Questions You Should Ask in Your Next Interview

If you have an upcoming interview, you are probably sitting there thinking about what questions you should ask your interviewers. I mean, you really want to impress them and advance through the hiring process. But what questions will leave a lasting impression? What can you say to gain more clarity about the role, the team dynamics, and the company’s core values? Here are four questions you should ask in your next interview.

How can I make an immediate impact in this position?

Asking how you can impact the company demonstrates your willingness to come in and hit the ground running. It also gives you critical insight into what you will be working on from your first days on the job. The hiring manager might mention a project they are in the middle of or even a problem that needs to be addressed. This question is an excellent opportunity to ask further questions or to provide a background on how you completed a similar project or solved a related issue in the past. This allows you to show how you can make a difference from day one.

What does success look like in this position?

Another great question to ask in an interview is what success will look like in this position. Every company has different goals and measures success differently. Asking this question will help you identify how this prospective employer will measure success in this position and what their goals are for you. You need to understand what the KPIs are, how they are measured, and how often they are tracked before accepting any position! It’s always nice to understand what is expected of you.

Who will I be working with most closely?

Asking about the team and who you will be working the most closely with is an easy way to understand the dynamics of the company. Will you be working with just other people on your team? Or will you be working alongside others from different departments? Thus, it is essential for you to understand how cross-functional the role is to see if it fits what you are looking for in a new position.

Are there opportunities for professional development?

With this question, you are looking for how the company invests in their staff. Are you put into a role with the expectation to just to do your job? Or are there opportunities for growth, training, and career advancement? Learning and development programs are growing in popularity, so if an employer doesn’t offer growth opportunities, it is a huge red flag!

Are you ready to answer common interview questions?

So, these are four insightful questions you should ask in your next interview. Now that you know what to ask the hiring manager, it’s time to brush up on common interview questions. Here are interview questions that you should prepare to answer in your next interview.

How to Follow Up During a Lengthy Interview Process

How to Follow Up During a Lengthy Interview Process

Many Americans are hard at work, trying to find a new job opportunity in today’s challenging labor market. Some job seekers have been out of work throughout the entirety of the pandemic. As a result, you may feel a little anxious if you haven’t heard back from your interviewers. And while you might feel awkward contacting the employer and asking for an update, it is perfectly acceptable to follow up afterward – you just have to do it the right way to ensure you don’t give off the wrong impression. Here is how to successfully follow up during a lengthy interview process.

Wait at least two weeks

If you have been unemployed for months, it can be hard to be patient and wait for feedback. Of course, you are probably excited about this opportunity and refreshing your inbox every five minutes for that much-anticipated email. However, before you even think about following up, you should wait at least two weeks. Give the company time to interview every applicant and review their application materials.

Employers’ hiring processes maybe even lengthier right now because of the virus. Companies must continually adjust to become compliant with social distancing and new safety guidelines, and thus, may need a little extra time to get organized. The worst thing you can do is be impatient and follow up too soon, which will undoubtfully put a bad taste in a hiring manager’s mouth.

Pro tip: if you asked about what the next steps are during your interview, you would have a better idea of when you can expect to hear back, and thus, when it’s appropriate to follow up.

Send a brief check-in email

After a sufficient amount of time has passed, and you still haven’t heard anything, it is appropriate to send a follow-up email. You want to keep your email short and sweet but gently nudge the hiring manager to provide some feedback or give you an update on the timeline of the next steps. Your goal is to briefly re-introduce yourself, remind them which job you are interviewing for, and ask if there is any additional information from you. Here is an example you can use for almost every job interview follow up.

Example follow-up email

Subject Line: Checking in RE: Technical Writer Position

Hi [Hiring Manager Name],

My name is Sophia Gardner, and I interviewed for the Technical Writer position on October 17th.

It was a pleasure to meet you and the rest of the team last month to discuss the position and learn more about [Company Name]. Please let me know if you need anything else from me to assist in the decision-making process. I look forward to your update.

Thank you,

Sophia Gardner


This is an excellent way to follow up during a lengthy interview process. The hiring manager will know who you are right off the bat. The email is also short and is a friendly follow-up email to hopefully get some feedback or learn more about the timeline of the interviewing process. Patience is a virtue during any job search, but if you need to follow up, this template will help you get the answer you have been anxiously waiting to receive.

virtual interview

How to Make A Virtual Interview Less Awkward

Let’s cut to the chase – we all know video interviews can be awkward. Completing a face-to-face interview unscathed is nearly impossible, and talking with a total stranger (who could be your future boss) can be intimidating. However, here are a few tips for job seekers to help make a virtual interview less awkward.

Check out the interviewers beforehand

Taking a moment to learn more about your interviewers is something we recommend you do before any interview. Once you know who you will be interviewing with, look them up on LinkedIn or see if they have a bio on the company’s website. Looking them up will help you feel more comfortable when you first meet with them virtually and make your conversation a little smoother. Plus, it can even help you identify some talking points to chat about at the beginning of the interview. Knowing who is interviewing you will help make your virtual interview less tricky and help calm your nerves.

Take time to listen carefully

One of the most uncomfortable parts of a virtual interview is the actual conversation. It can be difficult to read body language and know when someone is finished speaking. To combat this, give yourself a few seconds after you think someone is done talking to ensure they have completed their sentence. It is really awkward when people accidentally start speaking over each other and can make you look rude and impatient. By adding a few seconds before you jump right into a response, you will ensure you are not interrupting anyone.

Mute your mic when you are not speaking

When you are not speaking, mute your microphone. Doing so will help you think before you speak, and thus, prevent you from interrupting your interviewers. It will also avoid any unintentional noises or audio feedback that can distract from your interview’s success. With millions of professionals working from home with their children distance learning, there are always unintended noises that you will want to avoid. Muting your mike will help the entire conversation proceed smoothly and help you nail your virtual interview!

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

Interview Question: What Do You Like To Do Outside Of Work?

What They Want To Know

While you may have touched on this when asked, “tell us a little about yourself,” there’s a good chance your interviewer will want to know more. When a hiring manager asks, “what do you like to do outside of work?” they want to get a glimpse of your personality. They are curious about who you are and if you’ll be a good fit for the rest of the team.

This is an opportunity to let your personality shine. Our advice is to be honest – with a caveat – keep it professional. There is no need to go above and beyond in vulnerability here. Avoid delving into politics, illegal activities, or anything else that could potentially be a red flag. A good rule of thumb here is if you find yourself wondering if it’s appropriate, it’s not. Instead, share your life-enriching passions. If you have a hobby that parallels your career, that’s great! If not, simply share something you enjoy. Here are just a few hobbies that are appropriate to mention during an interview:

  • Hiking
  • Spending time with family & friends
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Reading
  • Sports
  • Cooking
  • Volunteering

No matter what you choose – be sure it’s something you are actually passionate about! Chances are, your interviewer will ask you follow up questions. So, you don’t want to look like a deer caught in the headlights, unable to discuss your hobbies in-depth.

Example Answer for “What do you like to do outside of work?”

“I love listening to Podcasts. Every day I like to get outside and go for a walk with my dog, Thor, and tune into a great Podcast. I have always loved This American Life because I feel like I learn something new with each episode. Lately, I’ve also been putting my detective hat on and listening to a couple of true crime podcasts. It’s a great way to check out for a bit.”

Final Comments

This is a strong answer because it is honest, professional, and personal. Remember, this question is an opportunity to share your personality, after all! If you don’t have any hobbies that you’d want to mention during an interview – now is an excellent opportunity to pick one up.

Need Help Answering More Common Interview Questions?

Don’t worry; at JSG, we have an arsenal of interview prep advice to help you nail your upcoming job interview. Good luck!