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What if…?

An article to look at what to do if a university interview has gone well, badly or a student remembers something afterwards that they forgot to say
tutor talking with students
© University of York

You leave the interview and suddenly you feel a rush of different emotions – happy, upset, disappointed, deflated, proud – and sometimes the thought of ‘what if I’d said…’

This is all completely normal. In the heat of an interview, forgetting to mention something happens to a lot of us and we want you to know that you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it.


Firstly any emotion that you have following an interview is normal – we’re all individuals and not everyone is going to feel the same way after a similar experience. It is likely though that you may feel some of the following:

  • Happy or Proud – you think the interview went really well
  • Upset or Disappointed – perhaps upset with yourself, you feel the interview went badly or you remember things you should have said and didn’t
  • Deflated – we often build interviews up to such an extent that the reality is very different to what we expect, or perhaps you have realised from attending that it isn’t the course or institution for you
  • Relieved – happy that the interview is over
  • Determined – thoughts of how to do something differently for a future interview
  • Numb – you might not feel anything for a while! It might be that you need to take some time and space to think the situation through

Once again for those at the back – however you feel, it is completely normal! These emotions show that you care and that this interview meant something to you. You can then start to unpick these emotions to learn from the experience and perhaps make changes for next time. If you felt happy and proud – brilliant! Do more of what you did in further interview situations. Deflated? Then maybe it wasn’t the right institution or course for you and you have learnt something in the process. Feeling upset? Then work on what it is exactly that has upset you, acknowledge it, look to make tweaks and then try to put it out of your mind, or deal appropriately with any left over feelings of anxiety or sadness.


If you still keep thinking “what if I’d said…” or you’re feeling anxious and upset, then another mindfulness activity may help. We’ve given you some ideas below, so have a look through and see what works for you. These might also be useful in the run up to exams or any other situation which is causing you some stress.

  • Colour in or do some doodling
  • Go for a walk
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Write in a journal
  • Try the grounding mindfulness exercise we talked about in the How can we deal with interview anxiety? step
  • Focus on the positives
  • Try a yoga flow – search on YouTube for some instructional videos
  • Try a guided meditation – have some great ones for anxiety on their website

Take care of yourself

Finally, make sure you take care of yourself physically and mentally whilst you wait for any interview outcomes. Eat right, try to sleep well and take some exercise. Do what you really enjoy doing and try to only focus on what you can control and make positive steps to improve where you can, without letting interviews and anxiety take over.

Do you have any other ideas to manage post-interview anxiety? Share them with the community in the discussion below

© University of York
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Supporting You with Your University Interview

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