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Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 11
October 4th, 2010 by Linda White  Posted in Interviewing, Most Popular

Job InterviewThe Combative or Bad Interviewer

Sometimes, you get into an interview situation that is just not good. This can be very disappointing, especially if you are engaged in a long job search. You are very happy to have an interview, excited to be considered for what sounds like an interesting position, and this could be the one! But then you go into the interview, and the person interviewing you does something to make it uncomfortable. Maybe they are just not prepared or not very good at this, or maybe they are downright argumentative or hostile. How do you handle this?

Q: Why should I employ you?

A: “ABC Company is a leader in innovation. My experience has brought me to the forefront of current and budding technologies, and I am pursuing further study on my own. I have that motivated streak that will continue to lead ABC Company in that direction. I am convinced that my ten years working in emerging technologies has prepared me for further work in the field, and that ABC Company is at a point where they are poised to lead the market. I would like to help them get there.”

Rationale: This is a little different from the usual “Why should I hire you” question. It’s hard to answer this question without sounding boastful, so just go for it. Usually, with this question they are looking for someone who stands out. Don’t be shy. Show that you have the qualities, skills and experience needed for this job with this company. Show you have real understanding of what the company needs and what it takes to get the job done. Show that you have the confidence, too, that shows that you are markedly employable.

Q: You’re not very organized, are you? OR That’s a lousy/stupid/dumb answer

A: “That’s an interesting statement. I could see that with limited information you might think that. I’d be happy to give you more examples of my organizational skills.”

Rationale: Why would someone say this? Well, to give you an opportunity to refute it, of course. The best tactic is simply not to take the bait. You will never win when arguing with an interviewer. It’s also possible that they are doing this deliberately, to see how you will respond to stress, criticism or hostility. First, pause. Make a simple statement or rephrase the question to buy yourself some time. Then offer to give them more information to help educate them on whatever it is they are complaining about. Q: Why are you wasting my time?

A: “Why would you say that? You asked me to come today. Can you explain further, please?”

Rationale: This person is likely disturbed by far more than just little ol’ you. If you encounter a full-on assault, there’s nothing that says you have to stay there. But do not ever rise to their level of pettiness. Simply stick to the facts. If they asked you to come and they don’t want you there, then offer to reschedule or simply leave. Sometimes you’ll go in and the interviewer is just not ready. I’ve done phone interviews where the interviewer had a barking dog in the background. Sit down interviews where the interviewer had no questions to ask me. It is very tempting in these situations to simply take over the interview. If you get into a situation where you think the interviewer is distracted beyond your capability to bring them back into the present, simply ask if there is another time that you can meet. If it’s a bad time, truly, they may be very appreciative of your thoughtfulness. Ask if this is a bad time, if they need a few minutes or would like to reschedule. Don’t assume it’s a bad time, though. This may be the normal way they work!

If you ask “Is this a bad time?” and they insist on moving ahead with the interview, then you may need to do a little covert takeover. If they sit around shuffling papers and don’t seem to know how to begin, first offer to tell them a little about your background. A person like this is likely only interested in solutions. So stick to relevant facts that deal with the need they have at this moment. It’s possible that once you get going, they will loosen up. Go ahead and ask them what their most pressing need is, and then offer to fill it. You’ve just made their day.

Interviews are sometimes mind games. The best thing to remember is the end result: you want the job. However, if you decide that the interviewer is being so miserable, then think about this: maybe you don’t want to work for a company that has such disagreeable employees or employs such tactics. Even in a down market, the interview is as much an opportunity for you to get to know the company as it is for them to get to know you. Don’t forget that.

Also Read:

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 1

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 2

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 3

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 4

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 5

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 6

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 7

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 8

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 9

Common Interview Questions & Answers - Part 10
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