Handling Problem Interviewer Types

Here are three different problem interviewer types you may encounter and how to handle them.

  1. The Harried Interviewer
    Problem: This kind of hiring manager is late, completely unprepared, forgets your resume and maybe even spaces out that today is the interview.

    Solution: “Give the person time to get settled, and express sympathy, [as in], ‘I can tell that your work here is important and busy,'” says Joanne Meehl, a career coach called The Resume Queen. Also, give the interviewer a chance to reschedule.

    If you cannot push the meeting back, lead the interviewer into the interview by saying something like, “Would it help if I told you about myself in relation to this job?” The key is saying this in a friendly, professional tone. “How you do it says a lot about you,” says Meehl.

  2. The Overly Chatty Interviewer
    Problem: You may get a hiring manager who spends too much time talking about the job, the company or any number of other things. You know you only have about an hour to sell yourself.

    Solution: “At some point, they do have to breathe,” says Meehl.  Wait for a pause, and then ask the hiring manager a question that you immediately follow up with an answer. For instance, you could say, “How would you describe the work systems in this department? For example, in my last job I created a backwards calendar so all team members knew what was due when and the projects were always completed on time.”

    Another tactic is to give the interviewer something to read, like your portfolio, and then lead that into a discussion about your skills, Meehl says.

    The bottom line is to “treat the person with respect but interject to some degree, [because] if you don’t, your competition will,” Meehl says.

  3. The Unskilled Interviewer
    Problem: This is an interviewer who doesn’t know what he’s doing. Maybe the person was “roped into being there,” says Meehl. “Maybe they just don’t know what to do.” In a way, it is you who is teaching them how to be an interviewer, she explains.

    Solution: Once again, you have to take control of the interview, but in a subtle way. Ask them questions about the company and the job to get the ball rolling. Show them your portfolio. Keep thinking about how you can help them learn more about you and your skills, and then turn the conversation in that direction.

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