When the Interviewer Is the Issue

Posted by The Editors on November 21, 2011
When the Interviewer Is the Issue

Due to the nature of my work, job-seeking friends have been coming to me for interview advice more frequently. They want to know the inside scoop on what to wear, how to introduce themselves, and how to make the best impression. All those things are easy enough to help with. But sometimes an interview doesn’t go well and it has absolutely nothing to do with the job candidate. Every so often it’s the interviewer who fails (sometimes epically) in making the interview experience a success.

Below are a few ways your interviewer may go haywire, and how to take the interview into your own hands. If all else fails, just cut your losses and run for the door.

Getting Too Personal
One friend told me her interviewer started talking about his on-going divorce before talking about the open position she applied for. This is incredibly unprofessional and uncomfortable.

What to do: If you feel things are getting too personal, it’s time to redirect the conversation. To get the conversation back on track, say something like, “If you don’t mind, could you tell me about the position and what kind of candidate you’re looking for?”

Feeling Out a Flirt
I heard about one person who was repeatedly called back by an interviewer to talk more about a freelance opportunity. She would be invited to happy hour or a dinner meeting and by the third “meeting” she realized the interviewer was more interested in her than in filling the open position.

What to do: The first thing is to realize what’s happening. You might be so focused on getting the job that you don’t realize you’re being taken advantage of. If you’re being asked to come back for a second or third interview—outside of an office setting—it’s best to keep your guard up and request that all subsequent “interviews” take place in the office.

Dealing with a Rude Interviewer
So you find yourself sitting across from a Larry David incarnate (can’t get more rude than that).

What to do: Remain calm and poised. Don’t feed into the bad atmosphere. Sure, he could be constantly interrupting you, correcting you, asking you impossible questions, and throwing an aura of aggravation your way, but you need to take a cue from mom and be the bigger person.

I’m sure there are plenty more interviewer-gone-bad situations, and if you ever find yourself in one of them, hopefully you’ll be able to handle it with grace and dignity. Getting a job in the current workforce is tough, but if you know you’d be working for or with one of these types of interviewers, think about whether the job is really worth it before continuing on with the interview.

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