Dealing With Weird Situations In An Interview
Posted by The Editors on May 6, 2011
Weird situations might be termed unintentional stress interviews, or the deliberate creation of an uncomfortable situation to test how the candidate reacts to pressure. Following are some examples and suggested responses.
Interviewer talks incessantly about himself
Say you’d like to have the opportunity to learn from a person who has achieved so much. Then ask, “Where does the hiring process go from here?” Normally, this will get the interview back on track or result in the interviewer setting up another interview for you. Another approach is to ask the person questions that feed his or her need to brag. The interviewer may then describe you a wonderful listener.
Interviewer spends most of the time talking on the phone
Suggest that you reschedule the interview for a time that would be more convenient, and when there would be fewer interruptions. Say something like, “You seem to have a lot going on just now. Could we find a time to meet when you might have fewer calls, so we can be sure to cover everything that needs to be discussed?” Alternatively, you might peek at your wristwatch— not rudely, but meaningfully.
Interview is not for the job you came prepared to discuss
On recognizing the problem, try to learn the source of the confusion, and retrace your steps to return to the right path.
Interviewer seems drunk or otherwise out-of-it
Excuse yourself as quickly as you can politely do so. Call the next day to reschedule—if you still feel so inclined.
Interviewer bad-mouths coworkers
This is a good time to listen and not to comment or invite further criticisms. You’ll draw your own conclusions as you proceed in the interviewing process. But such criticisms to a newcomer don’t bode well for a peaceful workplace! You can also say that you’d like to have the opportunity to meet the department members before drawing any conclusions about them.
In general, how do you handle such situations? Keep your cool, maintain your dignity, and use diplomacy to achieve your goals. But also bear in mind that you are receiving a preview of coming attractions. At a minimum, you should find out whether such behavior is the norm before signing on as an employee.