How To Handle an Interview

How To Prepare For An Interview

The job interview is arguably the most crucial aspect of any job search. While your resume and network can help you secure an interview, it’s your performance during the interview that ultimately determines whether you land the job. But what if you encounter a mean or abrasive interviewer during the process? In this situation, it’s important to know how to handle the situation and when it’s appropriate to walk away. Job search experts offer valuable advice on how to save the day and navigate a difficult interview, ensuring you put your best foot forward and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

Interview Tips

  1. Keep Your Composure

Dealing with a hostile person can be challenging and stressful. However, the best way to handle such situations is to remain calm and composed. Taking a moment to gather yourself before responding is a good way to avoid escalating the conflict.

When answering a question, try to keep your tone even and avoid reacting emotionally to the hostility. If you respond calmly and rationally, it’s more likely that the other person will eventually calm down as well. It’s essential to avoid giving them any fuel for their fire.

Remember, it’s not always about winning an argument or proving yourself right. Sometimes, the best outcome is simply to de-escalate the situation and move on. By staying calm and collected, you can diffuse the hostility and maintain your own sense of control in the situation.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully

During a job interview, it’s crucial to watch what you say and how you say it. The interviewer’s tone or behavior may be challenging, but it’s essential not to let it push you into saying things that you may regret later.

As Justin C. Honaman, a strategic business process, and technology professional advises, “Do not let an interviewer’s tone push you over a ledge to potentially say things that you may later regret.” The business world is vast and interconnected, and negative behavior or responses during an interview could have long-term consequences beyond that particular interaction.

Remember, the people you encounter during an interview may be part of a more extensive network of business contacts, and your behavior could affect future job opportunities or professional relationships. Therefore, it’s essential to choose your words carefully, stay professional, and maintain a positive attitude, even in difficult situations.

In conclusion, it’s crucial to be mindful of what you say during a job interview, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be. By remaining professional and avoiding negative responses, you can make a positive impression and increase your chances of success.

  1. Stay Confident

According to Stephen R. Balzac, president of 7 Steps Ahead, an organizational development firm, “The more confident you are, the easier it is to operate on the assumption that you’re not dealing with malice.” Being confident can help you handle a potentially hostile interviewer with ease. You can ask the interviewer if there’s something wrong or if this isn’t a good time. Balzac notes that frequently, the hostility may be due to factors beyond your control, such as the interviewer being distracted, upset about something else, or dealing with a tight deadline. In one case, an interviewer had a young son who was seriously ill, and when the candidate offered to reschedule, the interviewer immediately accepted. So, remaining confident can help you navigate a difficult interview and potentially turn it around in your favor.

  1. Build a Connection

Career consultant Angela Lussier of 365 Degrees Consulting suggests that asking questions directly related to the interviewer can help build rapport and ease tension in a job interview. “If a vein is popping out of your potential new employer’s head, ask questions directly related to the interviewer, such as, ‘How long have you been with the company? What role did you have when you started? Tell me the story of working your way up,'” says Lussier. By getting the interviewer talking about themselves, you can quickly turn their hostility into friendliness and make the interview feel more like a conversation.

  1. Address the Issue

The best thing someone can do when faced with a hostile interviewer is pause and ask if he or she has done or said something to upset or irritate the person conducting a job interview,” suggests Donna Flagg, workplace expert and founder of The Krysalis Group, a business and management consulting firm. “Usually, people don’t realize that they are coming across in such an off-putting way, and they quickly adjust when the issue is raised, but gently.” If you sense that the interviewer is being hostile, it’s essential to address the issue calmly and respectfully. Asking a direct question about what might have caused their behavior can often help diffuse the situation and allow you to move forward with the interview in a more productive manner. Remember to approach the situation with empathy and give the interviewer the benefit of the doubt before assuming that their behavior is malicious.

  1. It Might Be a Test

“They may just be testing you — to see how you handle pressure or deal with certain circumstances,” says Bruce Powell, a managing partner with executive recruitment firm IQ Partners. “They want to know if you stay calm and collected, or if it gets to you and affects your decision making and actions. Many times these situations arise in business, so, unbeknownst to you, they may be placing you in a bit of a role-play scenario.” So, if you find yourself in a tense job interview, keep in mind that it may be a test of your composure and ability to handle difficult situations. Instead of getting defensive, try to stay calm and answer the questions to the best of your ability. Remember that how you react to the interviewer’s behavior can say a lot about your character and suitability for the job.

  1. Turn the Tables

According to interview expert Marlene Caroselli, author of Hiring and Firing, one effective way to handle tough interview questions is to use the turnaround technique. “Buy time by turning the question back to the interviewer,” she advises. For example, if the interviewer says, “We need an exceptional candidate for this position. From what I’ve heard so far, there’s nothing exceptional about you,” your response could be, “Can you tell me what is so exceptional about the job that only the rarest of skills are needed?” By doing so, you can shift the focus away from your perceived shortcomings and encourage the interviewer to clarify what they are looking for in a candidate.

  1. Keep Going

Workplace communications specialist Linda Swindling suggests that if an interviewer is being rude, it is best to grin and bear it. “If an interviewer is that rude, he’s probably run off other good candidates,” she says. “Your only goal is to get to the next step. Figure out what that is and if you can get there.” It may be challenging to maintain composure in the face of rudeness, but it’s important to stay focused on the end goal and not let the interviewer’s behavior derail your chances of moving forward in the interview process.

  1. Leave if Necessary

“If an interviewer is hostile to the point of creating fear or possible physical harm, I suggest that the candidate politely remove himself from the room or area and speak with someone in higher authority,” says Rachel Ingegneri, human resources expert and author of Ten Minutes to the Job Interview. Ingegneri advises candidates to ask a receptionist or secretary for assistance, and if no one is available, to leave the premises as soon as possible. “If hostile tactics appear to be the norm, that does not seem like the type of place to be employed,” she adds.

  1. End on a Positive Note

Lauren Milligan, founder of ResuMayDay, advises giving a strong closing statement at the end of the interview. “Say, ‘I’m very interested in this position and I sincerely thank you for your time and insights today. If I am chosen to continue on in your recruiting process, will I have the opportunity to interview with other managers as well?'” Milligan says. “This shows you were able to deflect their bad attitude and are hungry for more. In these times, only the strong survive, so don’t let someone’s bad attitude throw you off your game.”

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