When Your Interviewer Is A Jerk, Do This

17 Jun

By Liz Ryan, Forbes | June 10, 2015

When you go on a job interview you never know what you’re going to find. It’s a crap shoot. You could walk into a room of friendly laid-back people who talk shop with you for an hour over beers. You could walk into an airless, windowless cubby and be interrogated like a criminal suspect. You have no idea until you get there!

It would be great if hiring organizations would let you know up front what sort of interviewing technique and flavor they prefer, but they seldom do. One exception is a large resort property owner whose name I’m sure you know.

Our client Gabriel got invited to an interview at that company. He was applying for a Director of Finance role.

Before the interview, the HR person working with Gabriel sent him a list of instructions on how to interview with the resort company.

What kind of instructions did Gabriel get? They could have sent him directions to the facility. That would have been nice — but no! They sent him a list of Interview Dos and Don’ts instead.

They told him to keep his answers short and concise, and to hold his own questions until the end of the interview, at which point he might have a chance to ask a few of them if there was still time available. Gabriel called the HR woman and told her to drop him out of the running.

Later her heard that the resort company is a horrendous place to work, so he dodged a bullet.

You might walk into an interview and meet the biggest jerk you’ve ever seen. Should you leave? It depends how you’re feeling that day. If you want to stick it out and see whether the rest of the team is more human than the initial interviewer, you can tough it out and possibly make it through to the next round.

I can understand why you’d want to do that, but I will caution you: great companies don’t put toads and beetles on the front end of their recruiting process (or anywhere else in the recruiting process, for that matter)!

People who treat job-seekers like dirt don’t tend to work for great employers, because if they did, somebody would say “Do you really think Margie is the right person to be our public face to the talent community?”

Still, if you find yourself in an interview room with a nasty, condescending person, you have to do something. You can’t sit there and take abuse for an hour. Here are a few ideas:

If the Interviewer Cuts You Off

Some interviewers want to make sure you know that they’re in the decision-making spot – not you! If an interviewer cuts you off in mid-sentence, bite your lip and wait until the interviewer is done talking.

Then you can ask “Are you time-pressed today? I don’t want to give you more information about me than you need, so I’d love to get your guidance on how best to answer your questions.”

Some interviewers truly are pressed for time because they or the people they work for have scheduled too many candidates for interviews too close together. Your interviewer may soften when you take his or her point of view. He or she may say “I’m sorry I cut you off – I’d love to talk about this topic but I have to get through my list of questions.”

When They Criticize Your Background

If your interviewer picks apart your resume and your career choices over the years and seems to find fault with everything you say, ask yourself “Why would they do that?” Some interviewers can’t deal with the complexity of their roles.

They want to make easy Yes/No decisions on every candidate they meet.

They are looking for flaws, because to them the worst situation in the world would be to have to say to a hiring manager waiting for first-round interview results “Actually, there were five excellent people you should really meet.”

They don’t want to schedule five second interviews, so they try as hard as they can to find a reason to screen people out.

There might not be much you can do about an interviewer like that. Chalk it up to lifelong learning and send out a few more Pain Letters!

You may decide to withstand brutal treatment at the hands of a screening interviewer, whether it’s a member of the company’s HR department or an internal or external recruiter. Don’t ever rationalize bad behavior on the part of your own hiring manager — the person who will be your boss if you get the job.

If that person is a jerk at the interview, when a rational manager would be at least partly trying to sell you on the opportunity, run away! You can get up and leave the interview whenever you want, or you can stick around until the end and then forget that employer entirely.

People show you who they are, so watch for the signals! Remember that only the people who get you, deserve you — the rest are welcome to jump in a lake or live a long and happy life without you!

This article was written by Liz Ryan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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