how to deal with a bad interviewer

In an ideal world, all job interviews would be conducted by interviewers who are skilled at asking relevant questions and ensuring that candidates gain a solid understanding of the position, the company, and the culture. Of course, in reality, many interviewers are inexperienced, unskilled, and otherwise unable to conduct effective interviews. But if handled correctly, encountering a bad interviewer doesn’t need to derail your interview. Over at U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about some of the most common types of bad interviewers you might encounter and how you can effectively navigate each. We’ve got the no-questions interviewer, the unprepared interviewer, hostile interviewer, and more. Please check it out here.

{ 5 comments… read them below }

  1. Sarah G

    Alison – This is a apt and succinct summary of how to deal with these clowns, who are way too common! For my previous job, I had a “no questions interviewer.” A LOT of preparation is what allowed me to shine in the interview and proceed to get the job (where I stayed for the next 6 yrs). I then had to pair up with my original no-questions interviewer to find my replacement, and worked hard to convince her that we should actually ask more than one or two (vague) questions.

    As you point out, one needs to be prepared to convey the necessary information about oneself, no matter what the interviewer asks or doesn’t ask. Redirect, redirect, redirect.

  2. fposte

    I worked with a no-questions interviewer of a specific subtype–she would actually ask a question, and then she’d answer it herself. It was kind of surreal.

  3. Anonymous

    My current supervisor is another type of bad interviewer, of the the too-many-questions-at-once variety. All in one breath, his “question” would be something like, “Can you tell me why you want to work here, what background you have relevant to this position, what strengths and weaknesses you bring to this position, and what makes you the best person for this job?”

    It was like this for every “question.” Egad, it was like 50 questions in total instead of the “ten quick questions” he claimed to have! I found myself asking him to repeat the “question”, paraphrasing each part of it, writing it down on my notepad, and asking if I had missed anything or if I needed to elaborate on a part of the “question.” While these are good skills to see if a candidate has for a position that requires great communication skills–including interviewing–he did not do any of this deliberately.

  4. praveen

    We tend to teach job seekers on how to dress up during an interview, how to handshake, how to speak, how to be confident and many more how to. In reality, very few interviewers take interviews seriously. Interviewers should be given proper training and they should practice to a greater extent before conducting every single interview because they are the brand ambassadors of the hiring company.

  5. Anonymous

    I recently interviewed 3 times for a job at a non-profit. During the first interview, the manager read some silly questions off a print out, checked his blackberry multiple times, and overall just didn’t listen to my responses. He stressed I need to know Excel, and I gave him examples that I did because I’ve tutored it, supported it, and use it DAILY. At the second interview, he still seemed disinterested so the executive director interviewed me. While they needed someone who could work until 5, and I cannot because a part-time job like this will not cover my child care costs, I was told this was not a “deal-breaker”. He again asked me if I could use Excel. For the 3rd interview, he called me up first to congratulate me on making it to the next phase, and that I’d be coming in for training, after 3 months I’d be out of the trial period. Wait, did I say interview? Oh yes I did, because as it turned out the 3rd meeting wasn’t training, it was me meeting with the outgoing employee to learn her job — he told her I’d be there for 1, I was told be there for noon! I did great, and the other candidate couldn’t use Excel. She had told her boss that the business dropped off at 3pm, and there was no reason to stay past that time. They ended up hiring a girl who can’t use Excel, and doesn’t understand databases at all, but who can stay until 5. I feel his poor communication skills and inability to take employee input mean I dodged a bullet.

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