Surviving Tricky Interviews

Most recruiters or employers are normally quite friendly and congenial as they try to learn more about you and your background during an interview. In all likelihood you will leave the meeting feeling that you have met someone with whom you would like to work, and could see yourself working, with. Then there are the interviewers who go out of their way to be abrasive and adversarial.

By provoking you, they hope to measure and assess your composure in order to determine how you react when you are frustrated, angry or under pressure. You must be prepared for these interview games.

The following interview situations are some that you might very well encounter. Following them are guidelines on how to handle them.

Who Are You?

The recruiter or employer opens the meeting with: "Tell me about yourself."

This statement should not trip you up. It gives you a great opportunity to explain why you are the best person for the job. Your answer should come from the prepared statements you have relating to how you can benefit the company, not on such autobiographical elements as where you grew up, your marital status or your hobbies and interests. Give a nice brief summary of your professional experience, then conclude with a strong statement outlining your most important strengths and accomplishments as they relate to the sought after role. Recruiters or employers who open a meeting with "Tell me about yourself" are handing you a golden opportunity to go through your qualifications and wrap up an offer. Instead of dreading these opening remarks, prepare for recruiters or employers who begin this way.

Promoting Yourself

The interviewer begins the conversation by bluntly asking, "Why should I hire you?"

Many people trip over this question when asked and make a terrible first impression. Again, you could not ask for a more beautiful opportunity to lay out your qualifications on the table. Try being just as blunt as the interviewer when describing your most salient strengths and accomplishments. Give a nice brief summary of your professional experience, then conclude with a strong statement outlining your most important strengths and accomplishments as they relate to the sought after role.

Profitable Silence

Some recruiters and employers will not say anything after you have answered a question. They just stare at you. In response, most of you get anxious and either laugh or grope for things to say, and your remarks more often than not backfire. A short period of silence is easy to manage. You have given your answer to the recruiter's or employer's question, and now it's up to them to continue the flow of the conversation. Simply gaze back while slowly and silently counting to 20. If these 20 seconds seem like an unbearable amount of time and you feel pressured to break the silence, ask the recruiter or employer a question about the position or company. Your question will be brilliant if it uncovers details about the available job. Instead of dreading difficult interview situations, prepare yourself to handle them effectively. While your competition will make a poor impression and lose points with interviewers, you can cast yourself in a favorable light and be well on your way to winning an offer by simply having prepared yourself!

Difficult Personalities

If recruiter or employer is determined to make things tough for you, the only thing you can do is be ready for it and handle it appropriately. The recruiter or employer might try to frequently point out your weaknesses, constantly interrupt you, intimidate you with their knowledge of the field, or continually disagree with your comments. These methods of intimidation are especially effective if you are being interviewed by a group of people at once. Most of you often become so flustered or worked up that you fall apart and blurt things out that you later regret. Forgetting to mention important information is also quite common in these circumstances. Your best ammunition against this is to play along. The secret weapon is to recognize that the recruiter's or employer's antagonism is nothing more than a game. It is a game aimed at determining if you can keep your cool. By acting politely, calmly and evenly, no matter how rudely the recruiter or employer behaves, you will be demonstrating your confidence and maturity. Granted, the interview can become quite challenging. Some circumstances may arise that are so extreme, you have to realize that they are acting this badly to learn how aggressive or assertive you can be. Research. Any and all information you can get in advance about the person(s) you will be meeting, as well as the personal characteristics the company is looking for, will help you know how to behave.

There are other more simple yet subtle ways to arouse you during an interview. These include seating you in a wobbly or squeaky chair, next to a hot radiator, beside a breezy open window or with the sun in your eyes. You do not want to be interviewed like this. So, explain to the interviewer what's annoying you, and then continue the conversation while moving your chair to a different location or sitting in a different place. Do not bear it and compromise your chances. Stand up, speak up in a polite yet assertive manner and correct the discomforting situation. You can only be respected for this. No one cares much for a passively quiet teammate.