No matter how much preparation you do for your job interview, there’s no guarantee you won’t get an absolute shock in the form of an interviewer with a totally uncomfortable style about them. Sound negative? No, it’s called being realistic.
Ideally you’ll be greeted by someone who’s relaxed, friendly, professional and approachable. Following their lead will be relatively straightforward and natural. Your nerves will be put at ease early on in the meeting, leaving room for you to ace your answers and prove yourself. Unfortunately, this perfect type of interviewer doesn’t surface every time. Instead, you might find yourself confronted with a really difficult person. They might not be the hiring manager you expected to see, or your new potential boss, but for whatever reason, getting this unknown person’s tick of approval has become a pre-requisite for winning your dream role.
Interviewer 1: Robotic Rhonda
RR might as well be a brick wall with a brain. She asks questions in monotone and stares at you blankly while you reply, offering little conversation in return. She does not show any emotion and appears to be running through a list.
Interviewer 2: Timid Tim
You can barely hear TT when he asks questions. He appears extremely nervous, and struggles to maintain eye contact, perhaps this is his first time interviewing someone? And you thought you were scared!
Interviewer 3: Joker Josh
JJ has a huge personality, and isn’t afraid of trying out his latest comedy routines on you. He makes several inappropriate jokes and you don’t know when he’s being sarcastic and when he’s having you on, waiting for a reaction. You can’t help but feel like you aren’t being taken seriously the whole time.
Interviewer 4: Hyperactive Holly
HH is like a bull at a gate as soon as you walk in. She’s here, there and everywhere. Her questions are fired out of her mouth at a million miles an hour and she interrupts your questions with her own anecdotes. She nods along intensely as you talk and maintains eye contact the whole time. HH is full on!
Interviewer 5: Pressurer Paul
PP will stare you down and make you work hard. He will ask you difficult, trick questions that don’t seem to have an obvious point, he will phrase questions in a negative way and make you feel like you’re being investigated, rather than interviewed.
Interviewer 6: Overly-friendly Fiona
OFF really wants to be your best friend. They spend half of your interview time asking you irrelevant questions about your favorite breed of dog and have a “oh my gosh, me too!” response to everything you say. She doesn’t seem too interested in your skills or expertise, but more what ice cream flavor you enjoy the most.
Interviewer 7: Rushed Rob
RR makes you feel like he has a million other things he needs to be doing. He makes you feel like his time is unbelievably precious and you’re kind of wasting it by being there. He’ll shoot questions out quickly and nod along preemptively as you speak, in an effort to speed things up.
Interviewer 8: Frowning Fanny
FF seems really irritated. She seems offended by everything you say and wears a really sour look on her face the whole time. She makes you feel like you’re really annoying her; draining her of all energy. Your attempts at a light-hearted joke to lighten the mood go ignored.
Interviewer 9: Hurricane Henry
HH is potentially the most unorganized person you’ve ever come across in your life. He has no idea what he’s doing there, what you’re doing there, what the role is and what he should be asking you. He has coffee stains on his shirt and his hair looks like a mad scientist’s. He’s clearly been asked to step in for someone off sick, and he’d doing a bad job of hiding the fact he has no clue what’s going on.
Interviewer 10: Bored Bill
BB makes you feel like he’d rather be literally anywhere else in the world. He yawns when you speak and asks questions that come out as half-finished sentences that you have to guess the end of for him.
How to deal…
It’s important for candidates to be themselves in an interview and let their true personalities shine out, however it is also extremely important to be aware of social cues, as well as the pace and tone being used by the interviewer, and adapt accordingly. It’s exactly the same as if someone you recognize rushes past you in the street, clearly running late to something, and so waves a quick hello to you before continuing on, barely stopping to make eye contact. You would not then call out that person’s name, and have them stop and explain to you how they’ve been, how their day’s going, where they’re off to and so forth – it’s all about knowing when to take someone else’s lead. They want to keep moving, so let them.
If you’re confronted with one of the above interviewers, you’re going to have to follow their lead. Always remember not to say what you think they want to hear, but stay true to yourself and answer honestly. Don’t let their intensity or flippant demeanor rock you or stumble you. Don’t take their attitude personally – they don’t even know you. Just focus on delivering the messages you’ve been preparing for and practicing.