Dear Employment Specialist,
I am very upset about my interview today. I was so prepared, dressed professionally and was ready for any question with a perfect handshake! Unfortunately, I got the feeling that the person interviewing me was the opposite. He seemed unprepared and inexperienced.
How do I handle such an interviewer?
Signed: Perfect Handshake (PH)
As Will Kerr states in his blog, sometimes a bad job interview doesn’t mean you were a bad job interviewee. It is a good idea to recognize the traits of a bad interview, suggests Kerr, so that “you can take action to make sure that, in spite of them, you still manage to give the best possible account of yours.”
Kerr presents the following three traits of a poor interviewer and tips for handling them:
1. An interviewer who does all the talking.
This could be a sign of an experienced interviewers who know exactly what are looking for and are trying to weed out those candidates who cannot speak up, when hiring, for example, for a sales position. On the other hand, an inexperienced interviewers could be talking endlessly because of nervousness, not being prepared, or a lack of understanding of their role. Your responsibility, as an interviewee is, even if your interviewer doesn’t seem interested in your skills, make sure that they have the necessary evidence to make an informed choice when making a job offer.
2. An under-prepared interviewer.
I agree that it is upsetting to go into an interview when the interviewer is not clear on who you are, and isn’t particularly familiar with your resume. In some cases, where a department is trying to fill multiple vacancies simultaneously, it’s not uncommon for an interviewer to be confused as to which role the candidate in front of them is actually applying. In this case, interviewers may be distracted by many other concerns, and recruitment might not be their primary responsibility. In some cases remember that, in giving your answers, you cannot assume the level of knowledge from your interviewer that you may have expected, so if you give information regarding something listed on your resume, make sure they actually know what you’re talking about. If you really feel the situation is hopeless, do not be afraid to ask if they would prefer to reschedule — make sure to pose the question in a polite manner. If it has come to that, you don’t really have anything to lose.
3. An overly-aggressive interviewer.
This is a trait of people who are placed in an uncomfortable situation – Kerr suggests that they respond by “bluffing bravado”. Inexperienced interviewers could definitely fall into this behaviour. If you are feeling that your interviewer is on the attack and keeps interrupting you through your response or openly contradicts you, you should (as the British say) keep calm and carry on. Even if it’s a deliberate ploy, or a sign or nerves. One great way of doing this is to have a glass of water to hand. Even if you’re not thirsty, taking a sip is a great way to give yourself a little time to keep your cool and order your thoughts.
Good luck on those interviews!
Joanna Samuels B.Ed. (Adult Education), M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP is a certified Life Skills Coach, and certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator who works at JVS Toronto as a Job Developer/Job Coach/Workshop Facilitator. Also, Joanna is a part-time instructor of employment counselling with people with disabilities at George Brown College.