Dealing With Unpleasant Interviewers

Dealing With Unpleasant Interviewers

While you usually find yourself dealing with someone personable when you apply for a job (odds are that's part of why they became a hiring manager in the first place), it's not entirely uncommon to find that your interviewer is downright unpleasant. There is a wide range of unpleasantness. Perhaps your interviewer is rude, or perhaps he or she is just abrupt and prickly. In some cases, an interviewer may openly be in a bad mood and may or may not discuss why right off the bat. How should you respond to a situation like this?

Firstly, acknowledge that everyone has bad days, but that it's possible to make a difference. Think about it; if the interviewer is in a bad mood but you can cheer him or her up by being a pleasant and valuable candidate, you're actually more likely to get the job than you would be if the interviewer had been in a good mood to begin with. There's no better way to get someone's attention than to empathize with that person when things are going badly. Try a little small talk. Ask how the interviewer's day is going if he or she hasn't already mentioned what's wrong, and commiserate if the topic has already been brought up—but don't be negative about it when you do it. Try to see if you can build some rapport. Whatever you do, don't let it affect your mood, at least on the surface; stay positive, energetic, and enthusiastic. But don't behave blithely; show that you are empathetic and that you can have a meaningful connection.

And then there are people who are just unpleasant all the time. There are many reasons that someone might be unpleasant, and one may just be that it's your personal, subjective perception at work and nothing more. Everyone has troubles in their lives, though, and those can affect peoples' personalities. It doesn't mean you can't build a rapport if you don't let that person intimidate you. If you remain friendly and confident, you may well find that you get along fine and also that you impress the interviewer.

When you are done with the interviewer, if you're offered a job, you may want to think about it before accepting the offer, especially if you're going to be working closely with the interviewer. If it's just an HR person who rarely interacts with the rest of the staff, you don't need a stellar relationship. If it's going to be your direct or indirect boss though, you may not want to work with that person. Try to decide whether the personality drawbacks are detrimental or not. If the interviewer was in a poor mood but still offered you a job, that does demonstrate fairness and an open mind under pressure, which is a quality you want in your boss. On the other hand, if you suspect that he or she is moody all the time, that might be intolerable after a while. Go with your gut; your first instinct about your rapport with another person is often right.