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Bad Job Interview? Sample Thank You Notes to Recover

By Susan P. Joyce

Bad Job Interview? Sample Thank You Note to RecoverThis is the thank you that you send to an interviewer when you feel absolutely positive that you really messed up in the job interview.

You were late, gave a bad answer, forgot to include something important in an answer, or made some other major error.

In this message, apologize for your poor performance, bad behavior, or missing information.

This thank you may recover the opportunity, or it may not. Consider, what do you have to lose at this point?

Sending a standard thank you note might be a better idea. See the samples in Formal Interview Thank You Notes and Sample Interview Thank You Email Messages.

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If you know for sure that they are not considering you, perhaps a thank you note after receiving a rejection is more appropriate -- that thank you note works much more often than you may think. But send it only when you really like the people you met and want very much to work for that employer.

Possible Recovery After a Bad Job Interview

Send this only if you are absolutely positive that you failed the interview. Often, 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, big time!

However, if an interview scheduled for sixty minutes lasted only five minutes with no business emergency reason given for the shortened interview and no apology or request to reschedule, something was wrong.

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.

Do's and Don'ts

Be very careful with this message! You don't want to make another error on top of the error(s) in the interview.

DO send this message very soon after the interview, as soon as you are sure it is necessary particularly if you haven't already sent a standard interview thank you note.

DO use email -- probably the best method to use because it is so quick. If the organization is anti-technology or feels extremely traditional, a letter that is delivered quickly (perhaps by hand?) might be a better response. If you do deliver it by hand, do NOT socialize. Just drop it off -- be as low-profile as you can be.

DO NOT make this message long or include too many details or apologies. Be brief. Make your point, and end the message.

DO NOT send this message so quickly that you make errors in grammar or facts. Avoid misspellings and sending it to the wrong person. If possible, have someone else proof it for you.

3 Sample Thank You Notes for a Bad Job Interview --

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 samples below with whatever terms are appropriate for you and your situation.

Message to include something you forgot to mention in the interview:

Subject: Thank you 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].

After our discussion [OR the interview], I realized that I neglected to include [OR to fully explain OR to describe] something you would probably find useful [OR important OR relevant].

[Now, add a short but clear paragraph that shares the information you mentioned in the paragraph above.]

I hope to remain in consideration for this position because I have [years] of experience with [the 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 look forward to the opportunity to become a contributor to your team.

I know that your time is very valuable, and 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]

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OR, message if you were late and they cancelled the interview or cut it very short:

Subject: Apology for tardiness for the [Job Title] position interview today [or date]

Dear Mr./Ms. Last Name:

My deepest apologies for being late for the interview today. [Unfortunately, we had an emergency at work which needed my complete attention until it was resolved, so I was unable to leave when I had planned OR Being on time is one of my strengths, but an accident caused a traffic jam and trapped me for over 45 minutes with no way out. Unfortunately, my phone was in the back seat, so I was unable to contact you. OR whatever happened that doesn't make you look like you would be a bad employee.]

I would greatly appreciate 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 interview for 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]

OR, message if you KNOW (absolutely, positively!) that you made a mistake which cost you this opportunity:

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].

Unfortunately, the fire alarm in our building went off at 3 am [or whatever happened], so I was not at my best during the interview. Consequently, I need to clarify what I said about [whatever it is that you feel needs clarification or correcting.] [Then, make your clarification short and specific.]

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]

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After the Thank You Is Sent

They may respond and reschedule, or they may ignore you.

If there are other parts of this employer's organization where you may apply in the future, do not compound your problems by becoming a pest.

Let them decide if they want to give you another chance. 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!

If this is a small organization and you really want to work there, give them a call a week or so after you have sent the message to respond, particularly if you sent this message on a Friday or just before a holiday. Don't be a pest.

Your best strategy may be to wait until they have another appropriate job open (or until you can get a referral from an employee).

More Information About Interview Thank You Notes


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 Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.