You too can squirm out of these 9 common job interview situations.

How To Overcome These Awkward Job Interview Moments

Photo Credit: Pascal

No matter how much preparation you have done, job interviews create stress and nervous behavior. We have all experienced some awkward moments in job interviews bring, so how can we overcome them and help ourselves beat the fear?

This is a guest post by Corinne Hutchinson.

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1) You are late

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Running late, even 5 minutes, is not acceptable for an interview. It gives a bad impression plus you turn up flustered, giving yourself a rocky start.

What to do next time?

First, work out WHY you were late and take it from there. If it was traffic or the train was delayed, make sure on your next interview, you do a practice journey to anticipate the length and potential traffic jams. You could also leave at least an extra ½ hour earlier, find a coffee shop locally and sit and wait until it's time. If you woke up late and turned your alarm off, get 2 alarms or go to bed earlier. You cannot afford to be late for an interview, anytime, so take the precautionary steps to avoid.

2) Limp or sweaty handshake

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You turn up with sweaty palms and shake the interviewer's before wiping your hands dry and cooling them off. The shame!

What to do next time?

Carry a handkerchief if you often suffer from sweaty hands and remind yourself to air and dry them before you even walk into the building, let alone the interview room.

3) Eye contact

You maintain good initial eye contact with your interviewer but then comes a moment where you are both staring at each other and you do not feel comfortable blinking or moving your glance away first. Your eyes start to water and you start to squint. You lose track of your thoughts.

What to do next time?

Remind yourself that your interviewer could be as uncomfortable as you and that the interview is a two-way street. If you feel your eyes about to water just blink and regain eye contact. Try not to spend the entire interview looking at the walls, ceilings and the interviewer’s clothes but do not be afraid to look away either.

4) Answering a question incorrectly

You are so nervous that you did not listen properly to the question, you begin to answer it but incorrectly and have gone off on the wrong tangent. Halfway through, you realize your mistake but still carry on and ignore the issue. You squirm and it effects your confidence for the rest of the interview.

What to do next time?

Be honest. If halfway through the question you notice that you're talking about something totally irrelevant, stop yourself, apologize and remind the interviewer what their question was and then begin to answer it accordingly. It will show them that you are confident to own up to mistakes and confidently turn it around.

5) Slag of previous employer

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You're asked why you left your recent employer and you go into huge detail about how terrible your manager was and the issues surrounding your leaving. Uh ok – epic fail. You really do not need to drop in this air of negativity as you come off worse all around.

What to do next time?

Make sure you have prepared an appropriate response as to WHY you left your company and ensure any of your answers to questions asked do not revert back to negative comments regarding your previous boss, colleagues or company. If you do, by mistake, start to talk about something like this, apologize straight away, take a deep breath and wrap up your answer with added positivity.

6) Waffling and repeating yourself

Getting stuck on a point, waffling around it and repeating the same thing in different ways is common behavior as a result of being nervous. Once you start, and you know you're doing it, it's pretty hard to nip it in the bud. It is also frustrating for an interviewer to listen to, so be more aware.

What to do next time?

By preparing yourself with the answers to a variety of interview questions and by feeling more confident in your ability to be able to answer them in different way, you will more likely avoid the waffling. Practice answering questions with friends or family and make a conscious effort to tail off your answer to come to a final point and complete it without repeating the answer in several ways. Practice makes perfect ?

7) You swear

Sometimes when you are passionate and excited it is easy to let a swear word out.

What to do next time?

If your interviewer has portrayed more prolific terminology, do not allow yourself to slip to their standards – remain professional at all times. If you swear by accident for whatever reason, do not make too much of a big deal about it but do not ignore it. Again, best to apologize and simply explain how you are so passionate about the situation. Once you've made an apology, regain your composure and finish your answer. Owning up to a mistake and displaying a graceful recovery speaks wonders.

8) Your phone rings

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You are mid-way through answering a question or worse, the interviewer is talking and your phone rings. Doh! A common mistake but also one that many people should now be in the habit of dealing with.

What to do next time?

First off, turn off your phone before you enter into the building. Secondly, if the phone rings, apologize quickly, find your phone and turn it off asap. Don't even look at the screen and especially DO NOT answer it! Explain that you were more wrapped up with preparing for the interview than worrying about turning your phone off.

9) Your fly was down

You leave the interview and notice that you are flying low ? and have been the whole time… The interviewer is probably not going to mention it but let’s just hope that you were well covered up while seated and they didn’t notice.

What to do next time?

Don't worry too much – this is more of an embarrassing mistake than having the job riding on it. But no matter how much of a rush you may be in, you need to get into the habit of drawing your zip up. ?

Question of the article

What was your most awkward job interview? Tell us about it in the comments.

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About the author

Corinne Hutchinson is a professional marketer and career advisor working in the online recruitment industry at, an international network of job boards covering 61 industry sectors, 172 countries and over 400,000 active jobs. She has written articles and advised jobseekers on searching and applying for jobs since 2005.

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Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Jill

    Very practical advice for some situations that don’t get talked about much. Nice article!

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