Despite all the preparations, job interviews are almost always a nerve-wracking affair. This nervousness can easily get the better of us, and it is quite common for interviewees to do or say things that can bring about an awkward situation. Sometimes awkwardness can even arise out of no fault on your part.
Here are common awkward interview moments and how you can handle them:
1. You accidentally use a bad word: You’re in the flow of answering a question and a bad word slips out. Oops!! Uttering a bad word is definitely not a favorable scenario for you, but relax. It’s not the end of the world. You can be certain that your interviewer/s have heard numerous bad words in their lifetimes, and they themselves must have used it on a few occasions.
How to handle it: Firstly, apologize. Then quickly shift the focus of the interviewers to more relevant things such as your achievements and experiences. Make sure you don’t remain silent, as that only makes you look worse. Don’t let them dwell on the word for a long time.
2. You can’t answer a question: Despite your extensive preparation to answer all probable questions, interviewers could ask a tricky question for which you might find yourself struggling to say anything. (*crickets*). Silence is never a good thing in an interview.
How to handle it: The best thing to do here is to buy some time by being honest. Say something along the lines of “that’s a great question”, or “you caught me off guard with that.” There is also nothing wrong with asking for a few moments to answer it. Say “Can you allow me a few seconds to think that through”. Now take a deep breath and collect your thoughts to put forward your answer. If you still find yourself blank, simply say “I’m not able to answer your question at the moment, but you’ve definitely given me something to think about.”
3. Your interviewer is distracted: You might be in the flow of giving a great answer to a question and the interviewer starts to yawn. Worse yet, he starts checking his phone. Such a situation is not only awkward but also demotivating.
How to handle it: Don’t take the yawn or phone fiddling as a sign of boredom to your conversation. The interviewer might simply be tired or might fiddle around with his/her phone as a habit. Continue with your answer, but with a little more energy if possible.
4. Wardrobe Malfunction: You dress up spick and span for an interview, but before your interview starts, you spill coffee on it or rip your tights. Definitely not your luckiest day!
How to handle it: If you can try to get the stain out at a washroom or stitch your tear at a nearby tailor, do it. If that’s not possible, address the issue at the beginning of the interview itself. Briefly explain the tear or stain that you suffered on your way to the interview. If the malfunction is noticed by the interviewer on their own, it might be distractive in the interview, and they might also assume that you are by default a messy person.
5. Your phone rings: It gets quite awkward if your phone rings loudly through the interview room, in the middle of the session. It’s even more awkward if you have a questionable ringtone such as “lungi dance” by Honey Singh, or “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj.
How to handle it: Quickly cancel your call and put your phone to silent or switch it off. Also, apologize for it. Don’t (for the love of god) pick up the call and start having a conversation. That’s the rudest you could do in that situation.
Apart from those mentioned above, there can be other awkward interview moments as well. Whatever they are, it’s best not to let those little things hamper your performance. Simply handle them briskly and professionally and focus on the main purpose of the interview, i.e. displaying the best of yourself in terms of skills, experiences, and accomplishments.