By: Sarah Diab
It doesn’t happen very often in interviews, but sometimes you catch people at their worst. You may be a ball of nerves, but you could walk into more negative energy on the job. Unfortunately, sometimes you need to be the bigger person-and you need to keep your eye on the prize, which may not be winning over someone based on what you have to offer. In this case, you may just have to get the interviewer out of his or her funk.
What do you do if you have an interviewer who is on edge or downright angry? Here are some tips for dealing with a less-than-friendly interviewer.
Be friendly. Remind yourself that you just met this person and the chance that his demeanor is a result of your actions in some way is very remote. The interviewer could have just received some bad news right before you arrived. You just don’t know what set him off, so there is no reason to add to the fire. Most people calm down in minutes after becoming irritated, so try to focus on yourself and being positive, which will help the other person evaluate your candidacy with an objective mind. It’s unfortunate that some people can’t seem to control their emotions, and you may have to take the lead to turn things around. Be friendly; even if an interviewer is in a bad mood-you may be able to bring out their best-which can help you get the gig. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly handshake.
Be aware of what you say. Keep your tone calm and answer all questions in a professional manner. Do not give in and say something that could come back to haunt you later. Remember, it’s not just an interview with this person; they have their own network of people in the industry. And it’s best to keep your image in a positive light. They are the one with a chip on their shoulder-your goal is simply to explain why you are the best person for the job-or better yet-let them do more of the talking if it seems like they need to.
Ride it out. You have two choices and I would advise against starting any sort of conflict. Being polite is one thing, but being a punching bag is another-however, you want to keep your cool in this situation. If the interviewer is being rude to you, speak kindly and get through the interview as best as possible. Chances are, if the person has a foul attitude, you won’t want to work there. But if you think they’re just having a bad day, try to make the best of it. Unfortunately, not all people can control their emotions, so you may be able to take the lead on the interview and turn the energy more positive. That’s really the goal if you walk into an “on eggshells situation”-try to shift the energy so you can focus on your career goals.
Leave with a strong close. There could have been many reasons why an interviewer was rude. Keep in mind that you are still looking for a job with this company, and an angry person shouldn’t get in the way if it’s the job you really want Show the interviewer that you can handle the stress of an irate person. Sometimes, it’s best to “kill ’em with kindness,” so offer a confident smile and an exit handshake and call it a day-remembering that you did the best you could with what was given.