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Be prepared to recognize an interview disaster

Be prepared to recognize an interview disaster

Be prepared to recognize an interview disaster
October 06
17:03 2017


Preparing for an interview gives you a measure of confidence when meeting your potential employer as well as a heightened self-awareness of communication skills. Wouldn’t it be great, if during your practice you could anticipate problems ahead of time to ward off an interview headed for disaster?

The good news is you can change the direction of the interview if you keep a close watch on clues and know how to react once you sense trouble.

Not all interviewers know how to interview. Chances are sometime during your career, you will likely encounter an interviewer that lack the skills needed to conduct a robust interview and while you can’t change their skill sets, you can protect and lessen the effects of an interview that’s going nowhere.

Here are some clues to keep in mind:

Distractions. The interviewer that keeps looking at their watch, glancing at their phone before you have a chance to talk can convey a sign they are distracted. I never will forget a job candidate who literally prepared for days by researching the employer, compiling a list of meaningful questions only to meet with a hiring manager who answered their phone twice within the first 30 minutes of the interview.

Needless to say, the candidate left the interview feeling slighted and was disappointed with an interviewer that was preoccupied. To be fair, interviewing can be tiring after talking with candidates all day but it doesn’t help you when you are interested in a job and want to have a good discussion.

If you sense the interviewer has a problem with focusing, it’s up to you to change directions by talking about your interest in the position and why your background is a good match for their needs. Distracted interviewers have a difficult time listening to detailed answers and your normal response to building rapport will need to change to a faster pace, highlighting significant contributions.

The candidate above felt disappointed but he made a good decision in asking to reschedule the interview out of concern for the interviewer, the request was appreciated and a new date was set. Long story short, he went on three more interviews with the same employer and received a job offer. If he hadn’t asked to reschedule, he probably would have been screened out.

Interrogations. An interview serves a purpose to screen candidates in or out of the hiring process and to determine if the candidate has the right sets of skills to perform the job duties. For you, the interview sheds more light on the position and helps you decide if it is a good fit.

When an interview goes from being a focused discussion on the position to a more intense probing session to prove your answers or background are true, recognize the interviewer’s need in wanting to make sure you can do the job.

Feeling interrogated can easily put you on a defensive merry-go-round. If you sense a defensive conversation building, stay calm and focus on your answers. Ask for clarification to confirm the question many times that helps in redirecting the discussion back to the position.

A clue for you: Consider if the interviewer’s style reflects the work culture.

Looking for the perfect candidate. Every employer wants the best candidate for the job but if most of your interview is about how many people before you failed at this position, consider changing the communication direction to their vision of what it takes to be successful there.

If you have trouble receiving a clear vision of success and their expectations, you might want to take a step back and determine if their version of the perfect candidate exists.

Recognize that a perfect candidate will be an impossible bench mark to match and just like the others who failed, you probably would be next.

Off the wall questions. Interviewers will often ask unexpected questions for a quick glance at your reaction and how well you handle situations. While these do not fall in the illegal category, nonetheless they can create some awkwardness.

The key is to remain confident and be genuine, not the kind of person you think the interviewer wants you to be. One way you can avoid a disaster is to pause, think and then give your best answer. Many times, there are no right or wrong answers to these types of questions.

Your immediate manager. You may not be interviewed by your immediate manager even though most would agree that’s an important part of the hiring process. The more you know about your boss and their expectations the easier it is to make a good career decision.

Recognize that starting a job without knowing your bosses work style, goals and philosophies you could be setting your-self up to fail.

You can avoid an interview disaster by keeping an eye out for clues and knowing what do if you find yourself in trouble.

What kinds of interview disasters have you experienced during your career?



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