How to Recover After a Bad Accounting Interview


Blew the interview to your dream accounting job? Don’t despair yet: you can still make amends if you follow our checklist of things-to-do after a botched interview.

Okay, so you messed up. It happens. Not every accounting job interview can be nailed, and sometimes the pressure gets to you and you choke: you wore the wrong outfit to the interview, asked the wrong question, or flubbed your way through an answer (maybe to the question about salary expectations).

Of course, when an accounting job interview goes badly – I mean, really badly – both you and the interviewer will be fully aware that you bombed. And while you can’t rewrite the past, there are a few things you can do afterwards to minimize the damage.

Step 1: Limit the damage 

Once the damage has been done, your first move should be ensuring that the harm stays contained to the singular event. You should do everything in your power to quell the flood of misfortune that sometimes follows a screw-up.

Set your mind on how to make amends. Quit dwelling on what you did or didn’t do during the interview. Seriously, stop. It’s time to move forward.

Step 2: Acknowledge the disconnect

Rather than pretend nothing happened, confront the issue head on. Send a follow-up e-mail to the employer, candidly acknowledging that there was a disconnect between you and them – a particular question they asked, an issue you were expected to address, an idea you were meant to suggest. Explain that you were capable of better.

Quit dwelling on what you did or didn’t do during the interview. Seriously, stop.

If there’s something you can undo or adjust in a brief message, over e-mail, do so, but keep it succinct. For example: “I realize there was a bit of a disconnect when you asked me to address how I would overcome my limited experience with QuickBooks. I want to assure you that I would remedy this by committing myself to enrolling in a professional development course, etc.”

The language you use here is important. Make sure to say something like, “I know we had a disconnect” – not, “I know I made a mistake/messed up when, etc.”

Step 3: Take Full Responsibility 

Without beating up on yourself too intensely, show the employer in your note that you take full responsibility for the way the interview went. Do not in any way suggest that you were misled. If they think you’re defensive, they’ll write you off.

But if they see that you’re mature and articulate enough to own up to your mistakes, they might just be impressed. Again, go easy on yourself and don’t overemphasize that you screwed up.

Rather than pretend nothing happened, confront the issue head on.

Step 4: Express your continued interest in the company

Hey, it’s worth a shot. After expressing your regret at whatever disconnect might have occurred, clearly reaffirm your interest in the company, and indicate – without making it seem like you feel entitled to it – that you’d love to have another shot at introducing yourself to them, so that they can get a true sense of your strengths.

Tell them you’re very interested in sitting down with them again, but that you completely understand if they don’t have the time. And then wish them the best. Leaving a positive impression is by far the best form of damage control, and pretty much all you can do at this point.

Finance and Accounting Recruiters Toronto

You can’t control the past, so rather than agonize over what you did wrong or neglected to do during an accounting job interview, focus on redeeming yourself – and their image of you – to the best of your abilities. In the worst-case scenario, they decline to give you a second chance, but are left with the impression that you’re an intelligent, respectful, and self-aware accounting candidate. That way, you’ll still be alive to fight another day for that next accounting and finance job opportunity.

How do you clean up the mess after an interview gone wrong? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!