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Bad Job Interview? Sample Thank You Note to Recover

By Susan P. Joyce

This is the thank you that you send to an interviewer when you feel sure that you really messed up in the job interview. This message apologizes for your poor performance or bad behavior, and requests a second opportunity. It may work, and it may not. So, consider, what do you have to lose at this point?

If the job interviewer behaved badly, you have nothing to apologize for. And you should seriously consider if you really want to work there! A thank you when the interviewer has misbehaved is definitely optional.

Possible Recovery After a Bad Job Interview

Send this only if you are sure that you failed the interview.

Sometimes, we can be too self-critical as we look back at our performance in an interview.

Apologizing for something that was not viewed as a failure by the employer can backfire.

However, if an interview scheduled for sixty minutes lasted only five minutes (with no business emergendy reason given for the shortened interview). Or, the interviewer clearly lost interest and tuned you out, ending the interview with a chilly good bye. Then, you might have a failed interview.

Before you write and send this letter, the following things must be true:

  • You think you know what you did to cause the failure.
  • You can gracefully explain why you failed.
  • You are sure you can recover in another interview.

If you aren't sure you can do all three, send a standard thank you, and move on to the next opportunity. Sometimes, these situations can be recovered, but often they can't. One strike, and you're out. Maybe... (or maybe not!)


Sample Thank You for a Bad Job Interview --

Send this message as soon as you are sure you blew the job interview.

This is a sample email format, although a letter that is delivered very, very quickly (perhaps by hand?) might be a better response. [Sample formal thank you letter.]

Adapt the text in the sample to your circumstances, and customize it as described in Sending Your Thank You's After the Job Interview. Replace the Italicized text in the sample below with whatever terms are appropriate for you and your situation.

Format your message like this:

Subject: Thank you for the [Job Title] position interview on [date]

OR, if the failure was clear and obvious

Subject: Apology for the [Job Title] position interview on [date]

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

Thank you very much for your time interviewing me for the position of [job title]. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about this position, meet you and other members of the team [or, if only one other person, include that person's name], and see your facility [or office, building, location, whatever is appropriate].

I believe that, unfortunately, I was not at my best during the interview and may have left you with the impression that I could not do this job well. (Or whatever mistake you are sure you made.)

I would like the opportunity to interview again. I have [years] of experience with [technology, tools, or qualification you have that is important to the job] in my position with [name of a current or former employer where you gained the experience relevant to this job]. I believe that I could become a useful contributor to the team very quickly.

I know that your time is very valuable, and I promise not to waste it if you will allow me another opportunity to speak with you about this job. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

[Your name]
[ Your job title or tagline, like "eCommerce Customer Support Specialist"]
[LinkedIn Profile URL]
[Phone number -- not your work number if you are employed]

After the Thank You Is Sent

Don't expect to hear from them, and do NOT contact them again about this opportunity. Let them decide if they want to give you another chance. Do not compound your problems by becoming a pest, particularly if there are other parts of this employer's organization where you may apply in the future.

Another opening with different interviewers may happen with them in the future, so just chill after you send this message. And, be extremely well-prepared for that next interview, if it happens!

More information: Sending Your Thank You After the Job Interview

If You Are Rejected:

About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.