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How to Overcome a Bad First Impression in an Interview

First impressions matter and sometimes they don't go as well as we'd want. In those cases, we need to be able to rebound quickly. When I started college a now dear friend of mine thought I was a complete B. As she and I became close friends, she learned that I wasn't trying to be rude but that I was just a shy person. When you're looking for a job, however, you don't have the luxury of spending prolonged periods of time with someone. Here are four ways to overcome a bad first impression quickly.

How to overcome a bad first impression in an interview

1. Apologize

Did you arrive late? Did you leave your resume at home? Don't blame traffic, or say you didn't know to bring your resume. You should own up to your mistakes and say you are sorry. Genuine mistakes happen and can be easily forgiven and glossed over by an interviewer. Side note- don't over-apologize or draw too much attention to the mistake. Say sorry and move on.

2. Pivot

So you made a joke, and it fell flat, and you can tell that the interviewer is a little put-off. Now is the time to pivot, or shift the conversation. Change the direction of the conversation and show a different side of yourself. For example, you made a joke, and no one thought it was funny, shift towards your more serious side. This shift in attitude allows the interviewer to see multiple sides of you. It also shows the interviewers you know how to bounce back from failure.

3. Deflect

Just skip right over that comment you made and deflect attention away from yourself. Ask your interviewer a question about the job or ask how their day was. Thinking about the answer to your questions takes their mind off whatever you might have just said and can stop you from putting your foot in your mouth.

4. Take a breath

Often when an individual makes a rough first impression they think that is the only thing an interviewer will remember about them. At this moment is where you need to take a breath and move on. The interviewer might not have even noticed your mistake. You should try and evaluate how your mistake went over. It might not be as bad as you think it was. 

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