In rare situations a potential candidate may encounter an interviewer that frankly should not have been assigned to the task. This will generally be found in smaller organizations or in a department that rarely hires. Most managers and Human Resources professionals are well seasoned in this venue and will gently assist an interviewee during the sometimes nerve-racking and anxiety filled process. However, if you find yourself in an interview with an interviewer that does not seem qualified for the process or is being unlawful and/or negligent with their questions, following a few simple suggestions may salvage your interview and possibly your new position.
Be professional and polite at all times. Do not at any time appear aggressive or indicate that you do not like what the interviewer is saying. This person may be simply having a bad day or you could perhaps be their very first interview ever conducted. Regardless of their actions, you must maintain a professional composure during the entire event.
Keep the interviewer on track. If the interview steers the conversation to a topic that is not at all related to the position for which you are applying for, very gently continue to only comment on the topics that are in fact relevant.
Do not be negative even if the interviewer is. Remember that the interviewer may be testing you regarding your personality and how you relate to a “Negative Nelly.” Continue to try to put a positive spin on any comments that require a response such as: Interviewer: “Wow, sorry for the long wait. This company is so cheap that they have us all over worked and expect us to do twice the work in half the amount of time.” Interviewee response could be: “No problem at all. I am glad to be here. It is encouraging to hear that the company is so busy. I think that this is an economy of possibilities.”
Kill them with kindness. This is a technique that must be mastered so you do not seem condescending or patronizing. However, this can be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. In a recent national Human Resources study, over 50% of interviewers admitted that the personality or demeanor of the candidate was a major factor in the hiring process. The old saying of: “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar” is very applicable here. This may seem like a no brainer, but many people naturally become defensive or more aggressive during a stressful event like an interview.
If you truly feel that your interview was hindered by a negligent employee or you were asked unlawful questions, then certainly follow up with a superior at the company and perhaps even file a formal complaint. However, you must retain that action for an extremely serious infraction like discrimination of some kind and not just for an interviewer who is having a bad day. When tempers cool, it should be pretty clear if you were interviewed by someone being discriminatory or just a true “Negative Nelly.”