What if you get stuck with a bad interviewer? Here’s how salvage a bad interview so you can still shine.
When preparing for a job interview, you’ve got a lot on your plate. Being ready for tough interview questions is only part of it. You’ll also need to pick out sharp outfit, have your not-too-weak but not-too-firm handshake nailed, and figure out how to stop your hands from getting clammy.
It’s best not to spend all your pre-interview time thinking about yourself. Why? Because the biggest hurdle to clear in an interview can sometimes be the interviewers themselves.
Interviewing candidates requires particular skills and knowledge that not everyone in the organization will possess. Smaller companies in particular might not have the experience interviewing candidates or resources structure the interview process in a way that provides the best chance to sell yourself.
And that’s why you need to know how to stop interviewers’ mistakes from costing you a job. If you get stuck with a bad interviewer, here’s how you can steer the conversation in the right direction to show off your greatest qualities. (Click here to tweet this list.)
1. Don’t let them do all the talking
In between talking at length about the company, the role, the rest of the team and where you’ll fit in, you can start to feel like you’re listening to a speech rather than participating in an interview.
Make subtle signs you want to change the pace of the conversation. By uncrossing your legs and leaning in slightly, you can prompt the interviewer to give you your moment. If this doesn’t work, be prepared to chime in even if you aren’t explicitly asked a question. When the interviewer makes an interesting point about the company’s work, culture or goals, express interest and chime in how your own experience relates.
If you still can’t get a word in, you may have to become more forceful. While you’ve been told not to interrupt the interviewer, exceptional circumstances may call for exceptions to the rule – it’s better to be remembered for being assertive than forgotten completely.
2. Be ready for generic questions
During an interview you should be looking for opportunities. Opportunities to demonstrate you possess the experience required by the role, the key skills needed to work efficiently, and the drive to continue learning and improving on the job.
A list of generic questions printed from the Internet on the morning of the interview won’t provide the same obvious opportunities as carefully considered questions composed by a capable and motivated hiring manager. But that doesn’t mean the opportunities aren’t there – you just have to look a little harder for them.
If you’re ask to answer dull, generic questions, dig deeper with your answers to give the interviewer a better understanding of your skill set and personality
3. Don’t get flustered by riddles
Then there are the interviewers who ask riddles in the place of questions, such as how many ping pong balls fit into a 747. While most recruiters agree these kinds of questions are useless at finding the best candidate for the job, play along and answer the question as best you can.
Don’t let these questions faze you – just apply logic and return to why you’re a perfect fit for the role.
4. Don’t assume they’ll ask you for questions
Asking your own questions gives you a better understanding of the company, allowing you to assess whether you’re a good fit for the role. Just as importantly, it shows you’ve prepared for the interview and are interested in the company.
Asking a candidate if they have any questions is a natural way to end an interview, but your interviewer might forget. If you aren’t given the opportunity to ask questions, then simply bring it up yourself.
5. Don’t let them undersell their organization
Any job seeker knows selling yourself is essential. The same is true of companies, but some employers won’t talk up their organization. At best, their lack of enthusiasm about the role and your place within the company will fail to inspire you. At worst, they may let on that the perks are non-existent, most of the clients are a complete nightmare, and last year several involuntary redundancies were made.
If the hirer makes the job or workplace sound unattractive, don’t immediately dismiss the position. The interviewer might have had a bad day or could simply be making heavy work out of trying to manage new employees’ expectations.
To find out what the role is really like connect with other employees through Twitter or LinkedIn. If offered the position, ask your employer if you can speak to would-be colleagues before making your decision.
The advice hasn’t changed: Be prepared
Ultimately the advice to job seekers hasn’t changed: Be prepared. But don’t just be prepared for interviewers who can guide you through a successful interview; be prepared for those who may be thwarting your chances without even realizing it. Remember, it’s up to you to make the most of the interview to sell yourself — even if that means taking matters into your own hands.
Shawn Hunt is the owner of Satellite Broadband UK. This post was inspired by those that have helped him become a better interviewer.