How To Recover From a Botched Interview Answer

By Dr. Howard Gauthier

An interview is often quite similar to a theatrical play. While an actor has to know their lines within the play, you too need to know your lines during a job interview. The lines in an interview are your answers to interview questions. But what happens when you either forget your lines or you begin to answer the question incorrectly?

If your mind goes blank or you find yourself rambling in your answer, you should (a) catch yourself rambling or searching for an answer, (b) take a deep breath, (c) compose yourself, and (d) consider using your Personal Sales Pitch to answer the question. Many answers to interview questions can be answered by reciting your Personal Sales Pitch. Your sales pitch is composed of three sections – a summary of your resume, your strengths and abilities, and your current situation. These three sections are described in greater detail below.

A Summary of Your Resume – This is the first section of your Personal Sales Pitch and is a summary of your professional life, your education, your experiences, and accomplishments. It is used to answer questions such as “What is your experience working in this industry”, “What is your greatest work accomplishment”, or “What are your qualifications.”

Your Strengths, Skills and Abilities – This is the second section of your pitch. You will want to identify your five or six greatest strengthens, skills, abilities and/or traits and create a pitch that best describes you and your values. This section will be used to answer questions such as “What are your strengths” or “How would your colleagues describe you.”

Your Current Situation – Your third section of the Personal Sales Pitch should describe your current situation and how you would fit into their organization. It should be used to answer questions such as “What is your current job and why are your looking to leave this position.”

Depending upon the question being asked, approximately half of all questions can be answered by sharing your pitch in its entirety, or by reciting one of its three subsections. You would use the pitch in its entirety (all three sections combined) to answer a question such as “Tell me about yourself.”

Like an actor in a play, you need to practice your lines so your answers flow naturally and your communication is easily understood. But if something were to go wrong while you’re answering an interview question, take a deep breath, collect yourself and consider using your sales pitch as a back up. It’s a situation such as this that I strongly recommend that you write out the potential interview questions that you might be asked and then write out the corresponding answers to these questions. Once you have these questions and answers prepared you will want to practice, practice and practice reciting your answers. Good luck in your interview!


Remember, ultimately the job will go to the candidate who is prepared and who effectively executes the basics of the job interview process. In all you do, you will want to EXECUTE FOR SUCCESS!

Howard Gauthier is an Associate Professor of Athletic Administration at Idaho State University. He is a former collegiate athletic director and collegiate basketball coach. He is also an author of 9 books. Check out his book, Getting Hired In College Sports – 2nd Edition at or his new book Execute for Success at


Helping You Get A Job In Sports

2nd edition Image

In Getting Hired In College Sports you will discover:

  • The types of jobs that exist in college sports
  • How to plan and navigate your career
  • How to create an effective job search campaign 
  • The proper way to create an effective resume, cover letter, and sales pitch
  • How to properly brand yourself
  • Techniques and strategies to prepare for your interview
  • How to properly prepare yourself for the five types of interview questions 
  • How to properly follow-up after the interview in order to influence the decision of the hiring manager

Only $23.95 Click Here To Purchase 

“I have recommended this book to many aspiring sports administrators.  A must read for anyone whom has a goal of working in athletic administration”

-Bill Fusco
Director of Athletics
Sonoma State University




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