Job Hakr

Blog from the Job Hakr: Student Affairs Job Search

Blog from the Job Hakr: Student Affairs Job Search


Recover from a BAD Interview

Recover from a BAD Interview

Recover from a BAD Interview

Recover from a BAD Interview

So you just had a terrible student affairs interview? You probably feel like crap right now. It’s okay, we’ve all been there before.

Interviewing for dozens of positions can be tough. I know, I’ve lived it. I’ve flubbed my fair share of interviews over my career. But that doesn’t mean that you have to accept defeat. Instead, use this as a learning opportunity to help navigate future interviews!

But we’re not worried about the future now. Right now, let’s focus on how we can recover from this last bad interview. So just follow these four steps below for how to recover from a bad student affairs interview.

Step #1 Give yourself some time to grieve

Doing poorly on a student affairs job interview is definitely a big blow. It feels like your personality, your professionalism, and your ego has taken a huge hit. Fortunately, there’s much you can do to get over that. That includes taking time for yourself.

That means giving yourself time to grieve. Yes, time to grieve. It doesn’t even have to be long. You can take 10 minutes or 1 hour to just think about your situation, admit that it didn’t go the way you wanted it to, and recognize it as a fact. You can even take a whole day if you’d like.

Go out.  Do something that you want to do. Treat yourself to something. Go to the spa, binge some Netflix, or stay at home playing video games. This time is all about you, because you don’t want this situation to spiral out of control. By taking your time to grieve over this situation you are actively taking control over your emotions and your reactions. You’re doing this instead of letting the situation determine your response.

Most importantly, take this time to forgive yourself. We are all human and we all make mistakes. Botching an interview is one of them. But you don’t have to dwell on it. Trust me when I say that there will be many more interviews in your future. This one will just serve as a blip on your radar of life.

Step #2 Determine what went wrong

Did you take time for yourself? Did you catch up with the latest season of your show? Did you go for a run at the gym? Great! Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get cracking. Let’s examine: what went wrong in this student affairs interview.
Did you prepare answers to all of the wrong questions? Were you late because of traffic? Could you not connect to the conference call because of a bad connection? Did you not relate well with the hiring manager and the team? These are all reasons why your interview could have gone south.  If you don’t actively review what happened in the job interview, then you won’t know where you can improve.

Step #3 Create an action plan

Have you reviewed the interview from beginning to end? Did you check your notes, re-read your itinerary, and dive into the job description again? Good! Now, it’s time to ask yourself, what were the most memorable ways your flubbed this interview and is there a way for you to address them?

First determine your mistakes. Were they make or break mistakes? Did you forget about the mission of the institution? Did you get your notes mixed up between this interview and another one? Was there anything that you did that you can clarify or rectify?

Second, let’s look at what you did and how you can address it by sharing some additional information. Did you fail to provide some additional clarification? Like mentioning relocation for a new out of state opportunity? If you can rectify your mistakes by providing some additional clarity to the hiring manager, then that is a good sign. It means that you can still improve your position.

Third, let’s think about how you can address these issues gracefully via a thank you email. You should always send a follow up thank you email to the hiring manager after participating in an interview. But in this case you want to change up what you would normally say. In addition, to thanking them for their time, you also want to take a few moments to correct the record on how you did during the interview.

Step #4 Reach out

When you reach out to the hiring manager you want to be very careful. You want to thank them for the opportunity to interview and for your consideration for the position. But you also want to address how you may have stumbled during the interview. You identified those areas in Step #2 in determining what went wrong.

You only want to draw attention to mistakes that your interviewer was aware of.  Bringing up something that the hiring manager might of otherwise missed, would be a bad move since they never caught on to begin with. It’s best to not let them know via your thank you e-mail.

This means that you should never apologize for having a bad interview. But you should provide clarity for very specific mistakes you made. The most common one of those are missing someone’s name and repeatedly calling them someone else (i.e. their name is Maryanne but you kept calling them Mary). That is a specific slip up that you can address.

Finally, you’ll want to send out that thank you email to the hiring manager. Remember, this is not an apology. This is merely a clarification on the areas where you did poorly.

Conclusion and takeaways

Based on your email, your interviewer may be gracious and offer you a second chance. Perhaps, they’ll follow up with some additional clarification or insight on the interview process. However, you should also be okay if you don’t hear back from anyone at the institution again. That is often the nature of the job search process.

No matter what the resolution, it’s important to know that you did your best in your post-bad interview recovery plan. Use this as a learning opportunity and improve for next time.

Click here for a sample follow up email after having a bad interview

Happy interviewing,

Dave Eng, EdD

Provost, The Job Hakr



Doyle, A. (2019, July 24). What to Do When Youve Bombed a Job Interview. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from

Smith, J. (2013, July 02). 7 Things You Can Do After A Really Bad Job Interview. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from

Wolf, K. D. (n.d.). Damage Control: How to Recover From an Interview Disaster. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from