A friend of mine told me he almost always arranges a second date — even if the first didn’t go so well.
The logic being that maybe the person was having a bad day, or maybe they were nervous, and maybe — just maybe — their true, wonderful self will shine through the second time around.
When it comes to job interviews, few hiring managers are so forgiving. If you mess up the first interview, there’s hardly a chance you’re getting called back for a second one. Or at least that’s the assumption.
According to Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” when most people bomb a job interview, they don’t even think about requesting a second chance. But they should.
“People beat themselves up so much after interviews,” she said. “I don’t think job seekers realise that there’s a human on the other side of the desk.”
In general she said, you have nothing to lose when you ask for another shot at the job. In fact, she added, many interviewers would admire your tenacity.
To be sure, there’s no guarantee the interviewer will grant your request. But sometimes, Taylor said, they will be empathetic to the fact that you seemed flustered or for some reason weren’t on your game.
The best way to make your case for a second interview is to write an email. You’ll want to wait two to three days after the interview to send it (you can send a standard thank-you note in the meantime), so that you don’t seem desperate.
Here are the key points you should cover in the email:
- Thank the interviewer for their time. Reiterate how interested you are in the position.
- Let them know briefly what happened that hurt your performance in the interview. You can use general language like, “Something unexpected happened this morning that was somewhat of an emergency. The timing of course was unfortunate, and for that I apologise because I believe it affected my concentration.” (Just don’t lie or exaggerate.)
- If you know exactly where you messed up, you can say, “I would love to clarify the area of [X].”
- Explain why a second interview makes sense for both of you. For example: “My background [in X] is a good match for your vision [for X].” Emphasise the aspect of your background that the interviewer seemed most interested in when you met.
- Offer to come in for a second interview whenever is convenient for them. You may also want to share some professional references, because you’ll need some more credibility.
- Thank them again and show how grateful you’d be for a second opportunity to speak with them.
Remember to keep this email short, Taylor said. The interviewer shouldn’t have to scroll down to keep reading.
Above all, Taylor said, be honest with yourself about whether you really want the job — or whether you’re just trying to “save face.”
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