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Hostile Interview? How to Handle Them

Job interviews are almost always anxious situations. You could be feeling a lot of pressure—financial urgency, low confidence after a long period of unemployment or just the worry that your current company will find out you’re looking. So what if, instead of an interviewer who recognizes that anxiety and tries to put you at ease, you end up with someone who seems determined to trip you up or acts downright hostile?

Here, in no particular order, are our top tips for handling a hostile interviewer.

  • Stay Calm

    While it may be shocking when an interviewer is rude or abrasive, don’t respond in kind. Take a moment to get ahold of yourself. Then simply answer the question as calmly as you can. Don’t acknowledge the hostility in any way.

  • Mind What You Say

    No matter how obnoxious the interviewer may get, don’t say anything you might regret later. Even if the interviewer is acting like a jerk to you, he might be well respected in the community, and you don’t want to damage your own reputation.

  • Be Straightforward

The interviewer’s hostility is probably not about you. He might have started his day off by arguing with his spouse. He may not feel well. Or maybe he was never taught proper interview techniques. No matter how shaken up you might feel, operate on the assumption that he’s not really malicious. Ask if there’s something wrong or if this isn’t a good time.

  • Meet the Issue Head-On

    If staying calm, straightforward and friendly aren’t working, you can always come right out and ask if you have done or said something to upset or irritate the interviewer. Ask gently, though – the interviewer may not realize he is coming across in such an off-putting way.

  • Consider That It May Be a Test

    The interviewer may just be testing you—to see how you handle pressure or deal with certain circumstances. She may be placing you in a role-play scenario.

  • Decide Whether It’s Worth It

    If an interviewer is rude, he’s probably scared off other good candidates. If you really want the job, you have to remember your only goal is to get to the next step in the interview process. You may want to make sure, though, that the interviewer won’t be your manager!

  • Go For It?

    If you decide you want the job despite the interviewer, close strong. Say something like, “I’m very interested in this position and I thank you for your time and insights today. If I am chosen to continue in your recruiting process, will I be interviewing with other managers also?” Rise above the interviewer’s bad attitude and let him know you’re ready for the next challenge.

One of the best reasons to work with the engineering and scientific staffing professionals at Synerfac? We’ll prepare you for any kind of interview. Contact us today if you’d like to learn more about great job opportunities with our great roster of clients!