Job interviewing can be an unnerving experience, but if you know how to handle some of the stickiest situations encountered in interviewing, you can be that much more confident. Here are some of the stickiest.
The Bad Interviewer: Not every professional who conducts job interviews with candidates knows how to conduct an interview effectively. In fact some are downright lousy at it. A bad interviewer might be unfocused, disinterested, unprepared. He or she might dominate the interview by doing all the talking or might ask inappropriate and illegal questions.
The unfocused, unprepared interviewer probably hasn’t read your resume and maybe can’t even find a copy. This hapless soul doesn’t even know what to ask you. Be sure to offer this disorganized interviewer a copy of your resume while asking, “May I take you through some highlights of my career?”
The bigmouth interviewer is holding forth, make as many mental notes as you can (or jot them down if you’ve brought a small notepad). Don’t show your exasperation; instead be an attentive listener and hang on the interviewer’s every word. Try to get a word in edgewise by leaning forward and opening your mouth slightly. If that doesn’t work, even a nonstop talker will likely eventually ask if you have any questions. At that point, you can ask questions or describe your fit with the company and the position based on the mental notes you’ve been making.
The rude, ill-tempered interviewer may be having a bad day or may be testing you by being unpleasant. Don’t let the interviewer’s lose their interest on your interview. Keep smiling and respond to questions with as much verve as you would with a cheerful interviewer.
Drawing a total blank: What is you simply cannot come up with a response to a question? Take a moments to think. If dead air just hangs there as the seconds tick away, ask the interviewer for a minute to think. If you are truly stuck, ask if you can come back to that question. Such a request is a risky strategy that may eliminate you, but it’s better than not answering at all.
Weak response: Acknowledge your flub and start again, saying, “Here’s what I really meant.”
Sweating too much: Discreetly get out a handkerchief or tissue and dab the sweat. Similarly, if your hands tend to sweat, be sure to wipe them dry before shaking the interviewer’s hand.
Informal Interview: Whether it’s the night before or the evening afterwards, an informal social event designed for casual conversation is almost always part of the company visit agenda. Employers see this as a time to see how well you seem to fit with their current mix of employees — and you should use it as a time to see how this group fits with you.
Some employers put a high degree of importance on this issue, so don’t ever forget for even a second that this event is a series of interviews. Don’t talk about controversial topics, don’t get into arguments, and avoid all other bad habits/manners.
Advice regarding alcoholic beverages: don’t do it. Some career experts say it’s okay to have a glass or two of wine (nothing stronger) with a meal, but anything that dulls your senses cannot help you stay sharp — and believe me, people will be talking about what you said and did at the meal.
Multiple interviews in a day: Make sure you get a good night’s rest before the big day of interviews. You will often meet with multiple groups of people, from potential coworkers, to managers and executives. Be prepared for different types of interviews and different style of interviewers. You need to stay focused and excel at each interview session — repeating your USP at each interview.
You will find yourself answering the same questions to different groups throughout the day, and while it may seem strange and monotonous, be sure to treat each meeting as a separate interview, even if that means repeating answers you gave in previous interviews. Stay fresh!
Salary: Salary is certainly likely to come up — just make sure you are not the one to raise the salary issue. But you need to be prepared with a response when the issue is raised in one or more of the interviews. Try to stay as flexible as possible in any salary discussion.
Knowledge is power, so hopefully you’ve done your homework and know the salary range of the position. If so, use this knowledge to give a desired range, if pinned down for a figure.
Testing: You may be requested to take one or more aptitude or personality tests. The aptitude tests are similar to standardized tests you probably took to get into college — and are designed to analyze whether you really have the skills you claim to have. The personality tests are designed to see whether your personality is a fit for whatever personality types of the company is looking for.