How to Handle a Hostile Interviewer

What is every job seeker’s worst nightmare? Encountering a hostile interviewer.

A job interview is stressful enough without having an additional barrier to overcome. Whenever an interviewer communicates or responds to your questions in a hostile manner, it’s easy to lose your concentration and underperform.

So, what do you do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation? You take the high road and put some of the following strategies to work.

Don’t Lose Your Confidence

I know what you’re thinking: easier said than done. However, the single most important thing to do if your interviewer is behaving aggressively is to stay calm and focused. Even if it means taking a minute to compose yourself, you should always try to answer questions and continue speaking in a confident, professional tone of voice. Be the bigger person. Don’t let them throw you off.

Ask Questions of Your Interviewer

If the interview is going down a hostile road, one way to redirect the conversation is to begin asking questions of your interviewer. Don’t interrupt them with your own set of questions, but feel free to pose a question or two during a break in the interview. Asking questions such as “How long have you been with the company,” or “What was your career path like?” can really help to refocus things. Remember, most people like to talk about themselves whenever possible. If you give a hostile interviewer the opportunity to talk about something else, chances are they will lighten up a little.

Consider the Possibility That It’s a Test

Occasionally an interviewer will intentionally behave in a hostile manner just to see if prospective candidates can handle the pressure. This certainly isn’t the nicest approach—nor is it a recommended HR strategy—but it does happen from time to time. If you think this might be the case in your situation, the best thing to do is just ride it out. Ignore it (as best you can) and continue selling yourself and your skills.

End on a High Note

Even if the interview feels like a bit of a train wreck, keep your composure and end strong. If you’re still interested in the position, let the interviewer know and thank them for their time. Showing that you’re able to brush off negative energy speaks to your professionalism and problem-solving abilities. Don’t let another person’s bad attitude impact the way that you leave the room.

For more great interview tips, or to learn about our great career opportunities in Washington DC, contact Sparks Group today!

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