How To Handle A Mean Hiring Manager During A Job Interview

Elizabeth Witbeck

Interviews are one of the most stressful situations that a person has to experience. What can make this especially bad is when you are in the room with a manager who is just plain unpleasant.
Perhaps the interviewer decides to spend the session asking you difficult questions that you couldn’t possibly know the answers to. They might take phone calls, check their email, or send text messages during the interview.

They may be outright rude and hostile towards you. Any of these situations is enough to have you running for the door.

It’s Not Personal

It is easy to take hostility and anger directed towards us personally. We assume that we have done something to offend this person. But that isn’t usually the case. This interviewer doesn’t know you, so you didn’t offend them. They are usually upset about something else and have brought their anger into the interview.

To be sure, this is unfair.

Realize that the interviewer has something else going on their mind.

Remain Calm

The most important thing you can do in the situation is to remain calm. A lot of times when people are antagonizing us, we want to retaliate back. But punching your interviewer is not going to win you any brownie points. It is important to center yourself. Respond to their questions in a calm tone.

Make your interviewer realize that you will not participate in their anger. It takes two people in order to have an argument. The fact that you refuse to escalate a hostile situation may help you snag the job.

Choose Words Carefully

When we are angry, words can fly out of our mouths quicker than we would like. This can leave us saying things that we wouldn’t say in normal circumstances. We don’t want to say things we regret, especially in a job interview. Insulting the hiring manager is not likely to win you the position.

Work on building rapport with this person. While you can’t control everything that happens in an interview, you can do your part to remain positive.

Focus on the Questions Being Asked

The purpose of an interview is to demonstrate to the hiring manager why they should hire you. Answer the questions that are being asked during the interview. Explain your background and your experiences, and why you would be a good fit for the company.

Talk about previous situations and how they relate to circumstances you would face in this role. Ensure the hiring manager that you are the best fit for the position. Even if the person interviewing you is in a bad mood, your responsibility is to stay focused on answering questions related to your potential for the position.

Build Rapport

You came into this interview thinking that you would hit it off with the manager. Instead, they are being rude to you. This situation can leave you feeling stressed out, wanting to run out of the room and never return. It is important to build rapport with your interviewer.

Find some way to regain control of the situation. You can make light conversation about an item in their office that you find interesting.

You can ask them what plans they have for the weekend. You can ask them to talk a bit about themselves, what their background is, and what they enjoy most about the company. This can help to diffuse the tension in a hostile situation.

Try Rescheduling

The interviewer may be acting like you are an inconvenience to them. They may be reading through their text messages while you are talking, or not paying attention to the answers you give.

If they are acting as if now is not a good time to talk, it is perhaps in both of your best interests if you try to reschedule. Ask “Is there a better time for us to talk?” They might take you up on your offer to come back at a different time.

You May Still Get Hired

You might leave the interview believing that you totally blew it and there is no way you are being offered the position. That is not necessarily the case. You could still be offered the job opening.

One reason that job interviewers act rudely during these situations is to secretly test candidates, to see if they can endure these types of behaviors. It is important to remain calm and keep your confidence during the interview, because you still might be offered the job.

Do You Want This Job?

An interview is an opportunity for two people to get to know each other better, and understand if they are a good fit. First impressions count for everything. When you first meet somebody, this is when they are supposed to be on their best behavior.

If the manager is acting rude and hostile now, just imagine what they will be like if you are offered the position. They might treat all of the employees this way. Take time after this interview to consider whether you would truly want this position.

Remember that you do not deserve to be treated rudely. If the interview has gotten to the point where you fear physical harm to yourself, you should leave the room and find somebody who works at the company who can intervene in the situation.

About The Author

Elizabeth Witbeck

Elizabeth Witbeck works as a college consultant and educational entrepreneur. She launched the first business in the United States that sends care packages to first generation college students, and also helps prospective college students on their applications. Her interests include education, poverty, and working with youth.

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