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What are the “Little Missteps” and How to Turn them into Opportunities

You’ve prepared for this interview with the sponsoring organisation of your dreams. You have your laptop set up, your Wi-Fi is at full bars, your background is as generic and professional as it comes, and you’ve put your handphone on silent.

The Zoom window opens and you greet your interviewer… and you can’t hear a thing! Or the screen is blank! You both spend several minutes scrambling with the mute buttons and repeating, “can you hear me?”, and when you finally begin the interview your mind constantly wanders to the question of whether or not that just screwed up all your chances.

No, no it did not.

Little missteps and mistakes happen. Interviewers and interviewees alike are all human, and we understand that nothing goes perfectly all the time.

However, how you react to an unforeseen circumstance says a lot about you, and rest assured your interviewer will take note. No cursing or swearing on camera is a given, but organisational representatives have a whole list of bad behaviours they take note of when the interviewee steps through the door (both virtually or in-person). These include taking a seat before everyone else, forgetting to shake hands, and being on the phone when the interviewer walks into a room.

So, what should you do when your cat meows off-camera, or you failed to accept a namecard with both hands? It’s not the end of the world. Simply apologise sincerely, make note of the mistake, and move on.

It’s more likely that rather than make a bad impression on the interviewer, such a mistake may have jangled your nerves and undermined your confidence. Take a few moments to time out and regain your sense of calm, before beginning again. You’re not a robot, and there’s no harm in showing the interviewers a more vulnerable side of you – especially if you then show how you persevere through it.

So don’t sweat the small stuff. And if it happens, apologise and get on with the important issue of the day – showing the organisation what a great scholar you can be!

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