Saleslogic Recruitment Insight: Turning a Bad Interview Into a Good One

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

You got the call from the recruitment consultant- you’ve got an interview! It’s an amazing role, in a great company. You’re excited and can’t wait for the interview. Then, the day of the interview, everything goes wrong. The trains are delayed, you’ve spilt your coffee down your shirt, and now you’re at your interview and you’ve forgotten the interviewer’s name, you forgotten your own name, and you’ve lost all grasp of the English language.  Sometimes despite our intentions, interviews just go sour. The Saleslogic teams are here to help! They have put together so ways to help turn that lemon of an interview, into lemonade.

Lemon: You’re so nervous your hands are shaking 

Lemonade: Acknowledge it, and spin it to your advantage. Saying, ‘Sorry, I’m actually a bit nervous, I’m just so excited about getting the chance to meet you and talk more about the company’ shows your enthusiasm for the role and that you are interested in the company.

Lemon: You spilt coffee all down your shirt, or worse, down your pair of tan coloured trousers

Lemonade: You’ve got a few options- depending on time, you might be able to pop in and buy a quick replacement shirt or trousers- or, laugh it off and don’t let it bother you. “You’ll have to excuse my appearance, I had a run in with a coffee cup on my in”. This shows a sense of humour, and that you don’t lose your cool even when things don’t go to plan.

Lemon: You’ve messed up an answer or not answered it properly

Sometimes, our minds work in strange ways and we fumble through and can't answer a question we could normally answer perfectly.

Lemonade: ‘I don’t think I’ve answered that very clearly, let me start over’-It’s perfectly ok to start over. This shows you can stay composed when things aren’t going well, and that you can own up to your mistakes as well.  If you feel like you’ve still not made your point, and the interview has now asked another question, you’ve not missed your chance, you can easily say, ‘in answer to your previous question’, or’ following on from your previous question’.

Lemon: The interviewer seems a bit bored.

Lemonade: Try turning tables and ask the interviewer a question- Some examples: What do you think are the greatest challenges of the role? Where do you think the company will be in 5 years? What do they find most inspiring about the company or the work it does. DO NOT say- ‘you seem glum, what’s wrong?’!  By asking the interviewer questions it can help them engage a bit more, and turn the interview into more of a conversation.


Double check your body language and tone. Sometimes without meaning to, we can close ourselves off- shoulders slumped forward, talking to the table, avoiding eye contact. Make sure you’re sitting up but are relax, and that you are looking at and talking directly to the interviewer.

Here is a great article about some things to keep in mind about body language

Lemon: The interviewer asks if you have any questions…and you don’t

The interviewer might think, you’ve a) not prepared, or b) not really paid attention or c) you’re just not interested

Lemonade: If your mind went blank and you couldn’t think of anything- it’s ok, that’s where the follow-up email can help. Not only is it polite to email the interviewer, thanking them for their time, but you can also say- “having digested the information you shared with me today, I’d like to ask…” This can show that you’re thoughtful and like to take your time to really understand something.

Lemon: You’re not the only lemon in the room

Sometimes it seems like the interviewer just doesn’t want to be there. It’s got you thinking, they’ve already chosen someone, or I’m definitely not getting the job.

Lemonade:  So what if the interviewer has already made up their mind!- View it as a positive opportunity for you to practice your interviewing skills- who knows, you might do so great the interviewer changes their mind and hires you instead! No matter how the interview goes, always remember to be professional. Storming out or being rude will get fed back to the recruitment consultant, and mean again that they’d be less likely to put you forward again for a role.

Lemon: You can no longer make it to the interview.

Sometimes there are circumstances outside your control- the trains are cancelled, your kid falls sick or you fall sick, or sometimes you just change your mind

Lemonade:  The worst thing you can do is ‘no-show’! Call your recruitment consultant as soon as you can and let them know you can’t make the interview and why- they can hopefully reschedule it without a hassle, or could even try setting up a phone call instead. If you ‘no-show’, you lose credibility, not only with the interviewer but also with the recruitment consultant and they might be less inclined to put you forward again.

Lemon: The interview just didn’t go well…

Lemonade: Sometimes things aren’t as bad as we think they are- your recruitment consultant is the best person to speak to after an interview-review it with them, the good the bad and the ugly. They’re in your corner and have the rapport with the client, so can often help smooth over any wrinkles.

Another good idea is to write down where you think you went wrong. Give yourself some points on where to improve next time.

Ben’s advice- “Turning a bad interview into a good one can be tough. Always make sure you’re well prepared before going into the interview- it won’t save you from all things but will definitely help”.

Make sure you:

  • Research the Interviewer

  • Understand the business

  • Qualify what they want from you

  • Control the meeting

  • Listen to what you’re being told by the interviewer

  • Show passion

  • Show your skills

Take a look at one of our recent articles, talking about some more what not-to-dos in an interview

Lemon: You’ve made a mistake but now can’t move past it

Making the mistake is not the lemon here; not being able to move past it is.

Lemonade: You need to go easy on yourself. To err is human after all. Dwelling on the mistake will not change it, and if you can’t move past it, it might show the interviewer that you lack maturity. Acknowledge the mistake, take a deep breathe, and move on.

Lemon: You’ve finished the interview, but didn’t ask what the next steps were

“As a sales person, you should never leave a meeting without understanding what the feedback is and what the next steps are “- Ben

Lemonade:  If you forgot to ask in the interview, that is when the handy thank you email can help again!

By getting confirmation about the next stage can help you manage expectations, and also confirms to the interviewer that you’re still interested in the role.

 Saleslogic Recruiter, Padraig shares his own lemon to lemonade story


“It was a group interview, we all had to stand up individually and pitch a CV to the hiring team. I unfortunately flopped and rushed it.

The group session continued, I listened and took notes throughout and ensured that I knew which pitch would secure a next step.

When the hiring manager asked if that was everyone, I said I’d like to make a second pitch, but to the room, I pitched myself and confidently used the points that I had noted.

I was later offered the position and they made me aware that I stood out in the group session because of my resilience.

I believe that this mentality is vital in an interview, as when something goes wrong you can use it as an opportunity to really show who you are.”

The worst thing you can do following a bad interview is not to learn from your mistakes. A mistake is not a mistake if you learn from it- it becomes a life lesson.

You may also enjoy reading 


Saleslogic is a top sales recruitment agency in London. We specialise in digital sales jobsSaaS sales jobssoftware sales jobs and more. Click here to view sales jobs we are currently recruiting for.