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The Secret to Dealing with a Hostile Interviewer

As if job interviews weren’t nerve-wracking enough, you may find yourself in a situation where your interviewer is coming across as downright hostile. How can you maintain your composure and rise above the circumstances when your interviewer is aggressive, abrasive or dismissive? Here’s how to save the day without walking away:

  1. Stay calm. Of course it’s easier said than done, but if your interviewer is behaving aggressively, don’t let it undermine your confidence. You want to stay focused, too. If you need a minute to compose yourself, take it, then answer the question in a confident, professional tone of voice. Taking subtle deep breaths through the nose can help.
  2. Don’t assume the worst. It may just be that your interviewer is dealing with some other problem, not that you’re a problem. Maybe he is distracted, upset about something else or has a tight deadline, If you really feel the interview is going nowhere fast, ask the interviewer if there may be a better time to meet.
  1. Turn it around. If the interviewer continues to make you uncomfortable, try redirecting the conversation. Ask questions of the interviewer whenever you get a chance, such “How long have you been with the company,” or “What do you like about working here?” Most people like to talk about themselves, and giving the interviewer that chance may help him or her to lighten up a little.
  2. Be aware that you may be being tested. It may be that your interviewer is intentionally behaving in a hostile manner just to see if you react appropriately. It’s a pretty lousy approach, but it does occasionally happen. Try as best you can to ignore the hostility and to continue selling yourself and your skills.
  3. Remain professional until the end. You probably won’t want the job if the interviewer continues to make you feel uncomfortable. But whether you do or you don’t, thank the interviewer for their time before you walk out the door. Don’t let their negative energy or attitude impact the way that you leave the room.

Some experts say you’re fully justified in leaving the interview if the hostility continues. If you really feel there is no point in continuing, you can say something like, “I’m getting the sense that the fit here wouldn’t be right. I appreciate your time, and best of luck filling the position.” Again, speak with confidence and shake the interviewer’s hand before you walk out the door.

Have you ever dealt with a hostile interviewer? How did you handle it? Feel free to continue the discussion by sharing your story below!