I Messed Up My Job Interview – What Can I Do?

Dear Work Coach,

Boy oh boy. I think I really messed up an interview for a job I really wanted yesterday and was wondering what I could do to try and salvage my chances of getting that job.

This would have been a full time position with benefits and good pay. I got the interview through a friend, which in my experience is the best way to go.

Here’s what went wrong:

I forgot my resume on the way there. I got off the subway 30 minutes before my interview so I figured I had time to find a Kinkos to print one off. I finally found a Kinko’s 5 minutes before my interview.

With about 2 minutes before my interview, I discovered to my horror that 21st St all of a sudden turned into Grammercy Park. The place I was interviewing for is located on 21st St, so I was confused. Rather than wander around being lost, I called and confirmed that yes, I was going in the right direction. I finally arrived, but six minutes late.

Once in the interview, they asked me if I had experience with still photography (the job is at a computer lab where most of the students study photography) and I said no, but I do have a lot of video experience.

Then they asked me if I ever used the command line on macs, and I had to answer honestly, no.

The interview was short, about 20 minutes.

The people were nice and we seemed to get along, but I just don’t know if I made a good impression, and if I meet the requirements for the job.

Although I feel like they could see from my resume clearly that I had no still photography experience, so maybe that’s okay? I mean, why bring me in for an interview if that’s a requirement?

Anyway, my brother is a photographer and he said he could give me a crash course. I told him it was probably too late because I already told them I had no experience.

The interview ended with them walking me to the elevator. No mention of when I would hear back (I was too ashamed to ask) or anything like that.

What do you think? Should I just forget about it?

Thanks for your advice, anything would be helpful. I really want this job! The hours, benefits, work environment, and pay all seem great. If only I wasn’t such an idiot!



Hi Ray!

First of all, you are not an idiot. In fact, you sound like a really nice person!

I myself have gotten confused by that same section of Manhattan – especially hard to focus when you are already nervous about an interview! As for the resume…yes, from now on you need to make yourself a checklist before going to an interview so you don’t forget anything. (Part of that checklist should probably say “take 10 minutes to breathe in and out slowly and gently before you leave.”)

Luckily you left yourself enough time to get to Kinko’s. Not everyone would have been that smart. And you also called and confirmed rather than getting any more lost…a very good thing. But ok…enough of that. Now to the interview itself.

I can’t tell what really went on in their minds. But just from what I read in your comment, I wonder if you presented a strong image of yourself once you entered – or even on the phone. Being late isn’t good…but the trick is how you handle things. The fact that they focused on what you didn’t have – despite having your resume, doesn’t sound too hopeful. BUT…I sure would try to recover a little. Even if not for this job, if you can win them over maybe they will keep you in mind for another job.

So…write to them. I assume you have their e-mail? Let them know you enjoyed meeting with them. You might mention you were a little nervous and wish you had another chance to show them who you really are and what you can do for them. Let them know you are a fast learner and could even get a crash course from your brother who is a photographer. (That’s a useful fact just to show you understand and have a connection to the field.)

Since the job is at the computer lab, not having all the skills yet should not be a deal breaker. They are interested in you and how you present yourself.

Keep the note short and positive – let them know you are more interested than ever after having met them (since it’s true). And, if you think its ok, add a short sentence saying you’d be willing to work for them for a 2-week trial and let them decide if you have what it takes.

Not sure any of that will help, but it is worth a shot. Good luck! Please let us know what happens.

Ronnie Ann


In case you’re curious, skim through the comment section from How to Tell If a Job Interview Went Well to see original Ray’s question and my response.


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. I just got out of an interview for a position in a health services Human Resources department, including a short Microsoft Excel test.

    I think I totally screwed up the test – it was a version of Excel I had never used before, and rather than being based on formulas etc. it was a graph/pivot chart – something I’ve never made before.

    I explained this in the interview which came immedietely afterwards, and the manager sympathised with me, saying it can be hard to use a different version of software, especially under pressure. I even said if I got the job I’d brush up on my skills on Excel, especially the area I had just taken the test in. He wrote this down and seemed positive.

    I think the interview went extremely well, I provided full examples of my knowledge, skills and experience and how they fit into the role to which I was applying. Both of my interviewers seemed to agree, and I got a very positive vibe from them.

    I don’t find out for another few days – but I’m no sure if I’m living on false hope, despite how well the interview went is the test the be-all-and-end-all?

    Thanks so much.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Gary,

      Unfortunately, it’s very hard to tell how important the test is. It depends on so many things, including your competition.

      Pivot tables are a typical Excel requirement – I’ve even seen them specified in job descriptions – so you should probably take the time to learn how to do them in case you are tested again. If you can, check a search engine to find a tutorial so you can learn how to do them.

      You would have been in a better position if you had been able to say that you can do pivot tables, but in a different version of Excel than the one used for the test.

      If you do learn how to do pivot tables, contact the employer and let them know that you’d like to retake the test. That could be very impressive to them!

      Try not to obsess about it. And keep job hunting.

      Good luck with your job search!

  2. shubhra says:

    Hi there,

    I believe I messed up on my 3rd interview for a Clinical Social Work job I really like. I have been interviewing for a job the past 3 weeks and last Friday (3rd interview) was the type of interview where I met with the clinic staff at the school where we discussed the setup. I arrived early and ended up waiting for the interviewer and while waiting I had a really nice chat with the PA, Social worker and assistant at the school. I almost forgot this was an interview since it was so informal.

    When the interviewer arrived we spoke again about the clinic setup etc and then the last part I had to answer a clinical case vignette. I really like this job and I know what I’m doing but I think I messed up the case vignette part. The interviewer and the SW kept saying its not a big deal but I wonder now if they were just saying this to put me at ease. Anyway, I answered the case vignette in essay format and didn’t just put down the answer next to the question. While filling out the diagnosis part I left the last part out because they did not provide the checklist needed to fill it out. I for some reason thought they were going to provide me with the diagnosis list. but they didn’t and I guess I was nervous to finish quickly that I didn’t ask the interviewer. Then when I finished he came over to me I gave him my write-up and he walked me out. He then said he is try to move faster and speak to administration and then mentioned again what will happen next i.e. meeting administration. I have a feeling he likes me because in the previous interviewers I have had he has given me good feedback. Like he called me up to schedule the 3rd interview and said despite having other applicants he was hopeful and he got really good feedback from the team. I also spoke to one of the SW from the team interview (he gave me her number) and she said the 2nd interview was a really great interview. I just hope I haven’t messed my chances up in the 3rd interview where they will think I dont know how to do a mental health diagnosis etc. Truth is I have 7 yrs experience doing this and I guess i’m worried that I didn’t respond to the answers in the manner he which was expected of me. I ended up also doing a diagram.

    So the interview was on Friday and it’s Tuesday and I haven’t received a call yet. For the previous interviews, he has called me back on Monday and on Tuesday. This is why I’m nervous about messing up the interview as typically he calls back by Monday and Tuesday. It could also be that he is organizing 3rd interviews for the other applicants as well and is busy with that and that he is trying to speak to the other interviewers. I Just hope that this minor mistake won’t take away my chances. Some ppl have said they wouldn’t invite to you to 3 interviews if he didn’t like you.

    Any suggestions? what do you think I should do in the mean time so that I don’t lose out on my chances for the job? I was wondering if I should email him a copy of a questionnaire I created while running a group. I showed it in the interview 2 and the team all seemed to like it. aah, yes this interview process is driving me nuts :(

  3. Hi All,

    I just got a job interview this week in this order:

    1st call(Monday) – headhunter called me for initial screening for about 20mins, was informed in the end that their client’s (the would be employer) IT Manager will talk to me over the phone(since he’s currently in Hong Kong and I’m in Singapore) for a technical inteview the next day.

    2nd call(Tuesday) – as promised, the IT Manager called me up, we discussed on my professional experience and a few personal details about me; he also explained the job scope and asked me how soon can I start with them, I mentioned them I can join them in less than a month as my contract with my current employer will expire soon. In the end, the interview went well, IT Manager informed me that he will arrange me with their company director(who is in Singapore) for face to face interview.

    3rd call(Tuesday) – headhunter called me again to confirm that I am scheduled for a final face to face interview of the company director on Wednesday and provided me the location and time of the interview over the phone, and on the email. He was also kind enough to provide me interview tips on pdf file for me to read about to prepare.

    Face to face interview (Wednesday) – scheduled interview is at 430PM though I was I unexpectedly arrived too early (330PM – first I haven’t been to the location so I gave myself 1.5 hours headstart to head down to the place for interview). The headhunter was also there and ushered me to the waiting area so that I could relax and get ready; we made a small talk, just running over things about the interviews. Then my time came for the interview, we started 30mins early (4PM) since the director is also there and ready. We talked for about 30mins plus, he asked me about my job experiences, also asked if I was able to talk to his IT Manager, which I told him that his IT Manager called me up the day prior and talked for about 30mins. The director was friendly enough and was smiling when I was giving my share of answers from his questions. In the end, I can say the interview was ‘somewhat’ okay, the interview I had with the IT Manager was way better compared to my interview w/ the company director; seemed that I can’t just read through him that’s why I’m having this feeling. In fairness, the director said that he appreciate my attitude to learn more and eagerness for the job that I was applying, also adding that they are actually looking for more people as they are going to hie 3-5 people for the position and that feedback may take within two weeks. From there, he thanked me for my time and I also thanked him for seeing me on that day, he walked me out to their door and I shaked his hand once again to thank him.

    After I got out, I send an email to the headhunter thanking him and the director for the time and opportunity to be interviewed. He replied with “…we are considering your profile while we interview other candidates. Will update you later.”

    I would like to know if this could be positive, negative or 50-50? Hope someone could enlighten me.

    Thanks and more power!


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