What To Do if You Bombed Your Phone Interview (And How to Recover)

October 14, 2021

Working to understand the job interview process requires both introspection and research of interviews and your past interviews. Understanding if you did well, or didn't do well on your last interview is a good way to help prepare yourself for more interviews in the future. Learning what to do if you bombed a phone interview can help you explore ways you can recover it in the moment, or work to recover your interviewing tactics in the future. In this article, we discuss how to tell if you didn't do well during your interview, and how to recover from an interview that may not be going as well as expected.

How to tell if you bombed a phone interview

If you want to learn more about how your interview went, consider some of the following aspects:

1. You misspoke

If you misspoke in the interview, this may be evidence that your interviewer didn't receive the best first impression of you. Misreading a date, correcting an anecdote, hesitating on the answer to a question or not answering a question at all can negatively impact your phone interview. Because there is no accounting for body language during a phone interview, what you say becomes immensely important rather than how you appear.

In a normal interview, your mannerisms and ability to look professional may help improve your first impression, but during a phone interview, you don't have these advantages. Recovering from misspeaking quickly can help you overcome these potential obstacles and recover the interview.

Related: 15 Phone Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

2. Heightened tension

If you sense tension during your interview, this may be a sign that it's not going as well as possible. Higher tension can be a sign of hesitancy on the part of the interviewer to continue asking questions. Regardless of wether tension is due to a lack of speaking on your or the interviewer's part, a way to reduce tension during a phone interview is to try maintaining as conversational a tone as possible. Try reducing the tension by leading in conversation, taking opportunities to display your skills through anecdotes that relate to the last topic of conversation.

Related: 25 Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round (With Video)

3. The interview ended quickly

If your interview ended more quickly than you expected, this may be a sign that it did not go incredibly well. Interviewers may choose to end an interview early if they clearly understand that the candidate is not ideal for the position. When you believe the interview ended early because of this, a good thing to do is to act cordially in your follow-up response, and try to make as good of an impression as possible in your note as you can. Leaving an interview gracefully can help give your interviewer the impression that you're both professional and understanding.

Related: How to Start a Phone Interview (With Tips and Examples)

4. Connectivity issues

One obstacle that can prevent your interview from being the most effective is connectivity issues between you and your interviewer. If you miss the interview call or have unreliable reception during your interview, your interviewer may not be able to fully understand the aspects you can bring to their company. While connectivity issues may be outside of your ability to correct, they can still affect the outcome of your interview.

To prevent connection issues, consider performing a connection test on your Wi-Fi connection. If your connection is weak, consider moving your scheduled phone interviewing place to a better connection area. If possible, consider requesting an in-person interview, if this interruption continues.

Related: How to Nail Your Phone Interview (With Tips)

How to recover a bombed phone interview

If you want to recover during a phone interview, consider some of the following steps:

1. Thank the interviewer

After your interview, you can potentially recover your impression on your interviewer by leaving a well-written follow-up note. One positive aspect you can give your interviewer is your immediate thanks in your follow-up note. Expressing your gratitude after the interview not only shows that you're cordial, but that you're grateful for the opportunity to speak with them about the position, even if the interview doesn't necessarily result in being hired. Understanding the interviewers perspective can show them that you're professionally minded.

2. Write honestly

When writing your follow-up letter, consider being honest about your shortcomings. If you misspoke, explaining why may be able to help recover your first impression. If you were nervous, explaining this cause for your hesitation during the interview may help the interviewer understand more about you as a candidate. If your lack of response was due to a lack of expertise on a subject, explaining this can show them that you're an honest employee.

3. Explain your strengths within your weaknesses

As you write your follow-up letter, consider explaining any weaknesses you noticed in hindsight through strengths that you honestly possess. For example, if you hesitated when asked to provide an example of a workplace event, consider explaining that you had difficulty summarizing the situation due to its details, or because you had many examples to choose from. Explaining weaknesses through honest strengths not only can show your expertise even more after the interview, but it can also show your interviewer that you were honest with your intentions.

4. Request an additional interview

If appropriate, consider using your follow-up message to ask for another interview. If you believe the interview didn't go as well as you hoped because of nervousness, asking for another chance to give them a good impression may be able to reinstate you for reconsideration for the role. Asking for another chance to display your skills isn't unprofessional unless the interviewer doesn't give you their contact information.

5. Keep the note concise

As you draft and edit your follow-up letter, consider keeping its contents as concise as possible. Because this is a follow-up letter to a decision that the interviewer may have already made, keeping this letter short may encourage them to read it even if they have already made the decision about hiring you or not. Additionally, because this letter thanks the interviewer, keeping it as short as possible ensures that you are both thankful and respectful of their time.


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