Unfortunately, no matter how good you are, there is likely to be a time in your career when you apply for a job and don’t get it. When that happens it can be hard to resist the temptation to make excuses or blame your CV, the interviewer or the day of the week. However, it’s much more valuable to assess your performance and identify the ways you can improve.

For the past 3 weeks we’ve been counting down the most common excuses candidates make at every stage of the job hunt, from search to CVs to today’s final part, interviews.

I couldn’t make it to the interview

You’d be surprised at how many people just decide they don’t want to attend a job interview. Sometimes they give a reason, like a sick relative or family emergency, or they say it just didn’t ‘feel’ right, in many cases, they say nothing at all. The bottom line on interviews is you should never cancel at the last minute. If something comes up that you absolutely can’t change, you need to reschedule the interview immediately.

If you reschedule at the last minute, it could be a red flag for interviewers as it raises questions about your reliability. Obviously family emergencies or illnesses are impossible to predict but those should be the only reasons you ever reschedule a job interview once it’s been agreed.

The interview was on a bad day for me

‘I just didn’t feel right on the day’ is a common excuse for poor interview performance. While there is absolutely no doubt that how you feel will affect how you perform in an interview, it’s not totally out of your control. In fact, there are a lot of things you can do to manage how you feel before the interview and make sure that you go in with the right mind-set.

The first step is preparation. Make sure you have your route planned, your outfit picked out and your journey started in plenty of time to arrive nice and early. Try to do something to give your mood a boost just before the interview too. Take a walk, listen to your favourite song, or browse some pictures of family – whatever helps you to go in with a smile on your face.

I’d never been to that office before, so I got lost/was late

There really is no excuse for running late or getting lost on the way to an interview. You have all of the information ahead of time(and if you don’t, ask for it) and the ability to test the journey time and location. If you get lost there can only be one person to blame.

Use Google Maps to outline where you need to go and then actually go there. Make a note of your journey time and use that information to plan a nice comfortable journey on the day. If you’re driving make sure to adjust for the time of day. This may all sound like basic stuff but you’d be shocked at how many people still get this wrong.

The interviewer just didn’t like me

There may be times when this is true, recruiters and hiring managers are only human after all, and a big part of recruitment is done on personality fit. However, you do have a certain amount of control over this too. You can’t make someone like you but you can make it harder to dislike you.

It is amazing how far a firm handshake, a smile, good eye contact and positive body language will take you. Be positive when you talk to the interviewer, engage them in small talk if they try to chat and be polite throughout. You can’t get a job by doing these things but you can certainly lose one if you don’t.

They asked me terrible questions

Before any interview, you should make sure that you have each of the most common interview questions well-prepared – along with a few examples that illustrate relevant skills and experience. However, there is no guarantee you will be asked these questions. There are interviewers who prefer to ask unusual questions to unsettle candidates and others who prefer to just chat.

If you are asked unusual questions, listen closely and answer them as fully as you can. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by trying to figure out how the question relates to the role; just answer it to the best of your ability. Wherever possible, fit in some of the information you prepared beforehand, but don’t force it. The interviewer knows the standard questions as well as you do, if they ask different questions it’s because they don’t want the stock answers.

You should never assume that not getting a job is automatically your fault. However it is important to figure out how to do better the next time you search for jobs, write a CV, or attend an interview. Excuses won’t improve your performance, but cutting them out might just help you to find that perfect job.

Read Part 1 Read Part 2

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