5 tips to help you deal with a hostile interviewer.

It’s no secret that interviews could be nerve-wracking, trying to impress while trying not to sound too desperate or too carefree. Sweaty palms, stuttering, and your brain starts skipping; no matter how confident you are, nothing can prepare you for what lies behind those interview doors.

Just when you think it can get worse, you get blessed with the worst interviewer possible. I have had my fair share of hostile interviewers, and wow, was it something!  This aggressive tactic is a commonly used trick in a modern business known as the ‘stress interview’. The idea is to weaken the candidates by putting them in a high-pressure environment. Should you find yourself in such an uncomfortable situation, here’s how to professionally deal with a hostile interviewer –

Stay calm – It’s only natural for one to feel overwhelmed and emotional in a confrontational situation; don’t let your emotions get the best of you; stay calm and take deep breaths. Focus on the goal at hand, which is giving the interview the best version of yourself. The employer will lose out on a great employee like yourself because that alone is a huge red flag.

Watch your tone – Don’t let the interviewer’s tone or actions push you over the edge and make you say things that you might end up regretting. Remember that business networks of people are wide, and your negative response or behaviour in an interview could have lasting repercussions in wider circles even if the interviewer is wrong. Keep your answers short but effective in passing your message.

Remain confident – This is easier said than done, but this is the best approach. Sometimes, the interviewer might not realise their hostile behaviour because many things could have happened before the interview. If this isn’t the case and the interviewer is just being difficult, don’t let them win! Smile, relax and be as confident as possible; this will even throw them off balance.

Ask questions, too – You can take back control! Once the interviewer is done with questions, give room for your questions to be answered. Tell the interviewer you’d like to ask questions of your own, and if they try to be dodgy about it, convince them to give you a few more minutes of their time. Here are some questions you can ask –

  • Questions about the interviewer: Find out who they are and where they sit within the company.
  • Questions about the role: What tasks will you face daily? What targets will you be expected to meet?
  • Questions about the department: Who will you report to within your department? 
  • Questions about the company culture: Where does the company stand on promoting a healthy culture and well-being? How does the business support its staff members?

Leave the interview politely – If you are not comfortable with the interviewer’s behaviour, it’s okay to leave. Aggressive behaviour from the interviewer could count as a major red flag, and you should save yourself the stress of attending the interview when you are no longer interested in the job. Go with your guts and ask to exit the interview politely; you can also address the interviewer’s action towards you and point it out as your reason for leaving. Express your discomfort and ensure you still appreciate the interviewers for their time. 

When you come face to face with this type of interview, remember that you are not to blame. This has no reflection on you or your skills. Take control of your job search by gaining skills that will help you effectively navigate the tough world of work and get you your dream job. 

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