Connect With Us Connect With Us Newsletter Connect with us

How to Recover from a Bad Interview Answer

Despite your best efforts, preparation and practice, in a live interview scenario you just might mangle an answer to a seemingly harmless interview question. What happens next? You might find yourself scrambling to save your performance, only to then ruin your answers to the next question and the ones that follow with your lack of focus. Here are a few tips to help ease your mind should you run into this unfortunate set of events.

Bad Interview Answer (Photo: istockphoto)

Re-answer the question during the Q&A period
If you messed up the answer to a question you can salvage your response by proactively suggesting or requesting to re-answer the question with your interviewer when the conversation turns to you taking the lead. Your interviewer should be reasonable enough to give you a second chance in the spirit of clarification. Say something like “I would like to re-visit the question on [x subject] we covered earlier. What I meant to say was…”

Use the thank you letter to re-state your position
If you cannot re-answer the question during the Q&A, your next opportunity to salvage a bungled response is in the thank you letter. Summoning your better angle of tact and modesty, give yourself the opportunity to assert what you really meant to say in writing. If you go this route, make sure you are 100% clear on your answer to avoid any and all doubt. With this response now in writing, there is no going back!

Answer every following question as close to perfect as you can
With this method, you are betting on your interviewer having a very short memory. Maybe the question you thought you mangled wasn’t all that bad. If that’s the case, make sure that you knock every other question out of the park with elegant and well-constructed answers as you can conjure. Flood your interviewer with amazing responses that clearly demonstrate that you are the right fit for the job so that that is all he or she remembers.

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at

Popular Buys

Popular Reads

  • One If By Land, Two If By Sea

    New York City's Top 10 Most Romantic Restaurants

    Read More
  • 10 Things Every Visitor Needs to Know Before Coming to NYC (Photo: Jim Pennucci/Flickr CC)

    10 Things Every Visitor Needs to Know Before Coming to NYC

    Read More
  • 10 Top Family-Friendly Hotels in NYC

    Read More
  • New York Exposed

    7 New York City Tours You've Never Taken — But Should

    Read More
  • ‘Wolf Hall’ will be presented on Broadway in two parts (Photo: Johan Persson)

    The 16 Most Anticipated Broadway Shows for Spring 2015

    Read More