What I Learned From Completely Messing Up A Job Interview

photo: Blank Itinerary


I was trawling through the job websites one day when a certain post caught my eye – Social Media Assistant for the BBC. Bingo, I thought, plus the office is just a 15-minute walk from my house!

The interview day soon arrived, I prepared the best I could using a handy little app called Glassdoor, along with many other job prep advice sites.

Job interview outfit on point and feeling pretty confident I arrived at the center. Confident handshake – check. I actually started the interview very well! Answered all the usual predictable questions, then BAM! They asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to, I crumbled with the pressure – I couldn’t say ‘I don’t know’ surely?

This was a job way out of my league, there was no way was I experienced enough for what they were asking of me. I panicked, then worst of all – I cried – how embarrassing. I wanted the ground to just swallow me up. The employer was very understanding and knew I was very nervous, so she let me have a 5-minute breather then return. I wrapped up the interview then just ran for the door. What a flop. I immediately rung my boyfriend and broke down in tears, I felt like a failure. But it wasn’t the end of the world; I look back and realize that actually learned a lot from this terrible experience.

The job role wasn’t right for me

The failed interview made me realize that it wasn’t me that was the problem; it became apparent that the job role simply was not a good match. So the fact I messed up was probably for the best – If I actually got the job I definitely wouldn’t have been the best person for it. The thing is when I applied for it the job description sounded fine to me, sounded like I was capable – a job interview is an opportunity to find more about the job in detail, if it’s not for you then that’s absolutely fine. Move on to the next job interview.

You don’t know the answers to everything

You can practice practice practice for an interview and still get different questions thrown at you! But there are better ways of handling a tricky question that you are unsure about. If they are asking you to describe how you would do something – but you haven’t prepared for it – then imagine yourself doing it, then think aloud. Employees like to see how your brain works! However, there are the questions where you simply just have no clue. Instead of a ‘don’t know’, style it out with something along the lines of: “That’s not a concept I’m really familiar with yet, but social media is something I’m really excited about, and I’ve been actively trying to learn more.” Sounds more professional right?

Have you ever messed up badly in a job interview? Did you take anything away from the experience? We would love to know.


Join The #Goalgang

P.S The Career Girl Daily App is now live! Download it now on iOS or Android


  • Ola-GoRestless

    A few months ago, I got pretty much crushed during a phone interview with very random questions that had nothing to do with the position at all (fun fact: the call was late in the evening and I had no idea that they call applicants that late). I’ve never been so desperate in an interview hahaha. Even though I was in the second around, I realised that the (temporary) position and company was not right for me. I helped me to realise to focus also on the human connection during an interview because it’s important to know what kind of future boss you might have.

  • Michelle Freeman

    When working with a previous employer, I applied for a position which would’ve ensured that my position with the organisation change from temporary to permanent. The job title and description was the same as mine, so the interview should’ve been a no-brainer. Day of the interview, butterflies starting fluttering around in my stomach. When I opened the door, the nervousness spread to my hands and voice … in other words everything was shaky or shaking. No matter what the interview panel said, it just made the shakiness in my voice and my hands worse. I was on the verge of tears.

    Months later, I found out that almost everyone in that department had been hospitalised for a stress-related illness at some point in time or the other and the post for which I had been interviewed for, had been left open by the previous occupant, that is, the person quit. The head of the department was seemingly fond of living on the nerves of their team and asking them to do things above and beyond what they were expected to do with the limited resources of that department.

    So, even though I failed, I realised that I had dodged the bullet on that one.

  • Simi Atanda Lindgren

    Firmly believe in the saying ‘if it wasn’t meant to be’ as there was one interview where I could have performed a lot better, and left feeling quite deflated, yet when I got home I had been invited for an interview at my dream job and 4 years later, I am still there. And, blogging as well here http://www.whiitelist.com