Sometimes a bad job interview doesn’t mean you were a bad job interviewee.

Snowman job interview

This is a guest post by Will Kerr. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

When you’re preparing to launch yourself into the lion’s den of a job interview, you’ll usually be entirely focused on your own performance, from planning out your dress, to ensuring you’ll look your best, to perfecting your handshake.

While all of these preparations are undoubtedly vital, they make it all too easy to lose track of the fact that an interview is a dialogue and, by its very nature, is not all about you.

Unfortunately, how well you interview is only half the equation. You also have to hope you get an interviewer who knows what they’re doing.

As someone who’s been on both sides of the table, it becomes immediately obvious when you’ve been lumped with an inexperienced interviewer.

This is never ideal, but, as long as you are able to recognize the traits of a bad interviewer, you can take action to make sure that, in spite of them, you still manage to give the best possible account of yourself.

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Here are some 3 common scenarios that can arise with a poor interviewer and tips for handling them:

1) An Interviewer That Does All the Talking

If you’ve ever interviewed for a fairly high pressure role, or one that requires a good deal of assertiveness, you’ve probably been on the end of interviewing tactics designed to weed out those who are too passive to succeed.

One classic example of this is where an interviewer remains almost silent, an aggressive technique that can make those of a nervous disposition feel uneasy and lead to them babbling on. Indeed, the police even use this method in interrogations.

Of course, this is the preserve of experienced interviewers who know exactly what they are looking for. At the other hand of the spectrum, as you might expect, you’ll often find an inexperienced interviewer doing the exact opposite; talking endlessly (possibly as a result of their own nervousness) to the point that you’re struggling to even get a word in.

In some cases, you may feel that this is because the job is in the bag and they’re desperately trying to sell its appeal to you, but this a dangerous assumption to make. Even if your interviewer doesn’t seem overly concerned to hear more about your credentials, you owe it to yourself to make sure that they have the necessary evidence to make an informed choice when, hopefully, they offer you the post.

2) An Under-prepared Interviewer

There is nothing more disheartening than going into an interview, only for it to soon become clear that your opposite number isn’t 100% clear on who you are, and isn’t particularly familiar with your resume. Indeed, in some cases, where a department is trying to fill multiple vacancies simultaneously, it’s not unheard of for an interviewer to be a little hazy as to which role the candidate in front of them is actually applying for.

Alternatively, you might be lucky enough to be one of selected few candidates being interviewed for a high level position, a role which requires senior staff to be present at interview. In this case, you can find your interviewer is clearly distracted by their many other concerns, recruitment not being their primary responsibilities.

Either way, you’ll have your work cut out for you. In some cases you’ll have to simply remember that, in giving your answers, you cannot assume the level of knowledge from your interviewer that you may have expected. So, for example, if you give information in reference to something listed on your resume, make sure they actually know what you’re talking about.

If you really feel the situation is hopeless, do not be afraid to ask if they’d prefer to reschedule. As long as you pose the question in a polite manner, it won’t reflect badly on you, and even seem considerate. Besides, if it’s come to that, you don’t really have anything to lose.

3) An Overly Aggressive Interviewer

Many people, when placed in a situation that they are not completely comfortable with, can respond by bluffing bravado. Interviewers lacking in experience are far from immune to this.

This is worth bearing in mind if you’re sensing a combative atmosphere in your interview, if your opposite number interrupts you midway through a response, or openly contradicts you for instance. Whether this is a deliberate ploy, or a sign or nerves, your only option is to keep calm and carry on.

One great way of doing this is to have a glass of water to hand. Even if you’re not thirsty, taking a sip is a great way to give yourself a little time to surreptitiously keep your cool and order your thoughts.

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About the Author

Will Kerr has enjoyed a fruitful career in recruitment and writes about his experiences in order to help job seekers progress their careers. You can read more of his work over at

Question of the article

What was your most memorable interview with a bad job interviewer? Tell us in the comments.

READ NOW: How to Quickly Recover From Bad Job Interviews.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Steve

    I’ve been to quite a lot of interviews in my life and I must say that the worst thing is to deal with your 3rd situation: an aggressive interviewer. If he’s angry and aggressive while you are very nervous, things will definitely not go well.

    Regarding the other issues, there still are things you can do: if he’s under-prepared and you’re good at what you do, you can explain certain things to him and make him understand. If he’s talking too much, make sure you say something extremely interesting and useful (!!) and he’ll most probably let you talk more.

    I hope my advice helps as well. 🙂


  2. Lee Reed

    It’s true that a lot of people who do the interviewing and little experience and less training in the craft. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. I once had an interview where the interviewer did nothing but answer the questions I had prepared ahead of time. Bad as it was, I got the job.

  3. Jacob Share

    Steve- good comment. The sad reality is that sometimes, nothing you can do is going to change the fact that the hiring decision has already been made and some interviewers just aren’t in the mood.

    Lee- that’s actually a great outcome to prepare for- getting an interviewer credit for a good interview even if you did all the work. That’s how you make someone into an internal evangelist. Hard to seek out such interview situations, though, they’re more a stroke of luck.

  4. Cheryl

    I had a very interesting interviewing experience earlier this week…

    I sent over my resume on 5/15. Someone leaves me a vm during the evening of 5/16 asking that I call them the following day (after 10AM) to schedule an interview. Before I could, the same person calls me that morning before 10 AM. We schedule the interview for 5/21.

    I get there 20 minutes early looking sharp, professional and ready to impress. I walk in, tell the receptionist that I have an appointment. I did notice someone in an office but wasn’t sure whether or not this was the person I would be interviewing with. The receptionist tells me to have a seat at this round table right in front of her. The person in the office comes out and introduces herself. I stand up, of course, because I’m assuming we would be going into her office. We don’t….she sits at the table in the reception area and starts the interview IN FRONT OF THE RECEPTIONIST. She has my resume along with a copy of the job description. She asks me a couple of questions, talks about the position, etc. I ask questions when I can. The next thing I know, the interview is over! I was out of that office before noon! I was not asked to fill out an application, was not told anything about salary and benefits. At the end she walks me to the elevator, which was only a few steps away, gives me her business card and tells me that she will email me.

    It’s like she took one look at me and thought, “Ummmmm…”

    That is officially the worst interview experience I’ve ever had.

  5. Jacob Share

    Cheryl- that is pretty bad, and somewhat bizarre. Sounds like they did you a favor by ending it when they did.

    Judging by the aggressive calling, they either really liked your resume and/or struggling to find candidates. Did they mention anything about that?

  6. Cheryl

    Good morning Jacob,

    There was no mention of either. I did ask her how soon they were looking to fill the position. She basically told me “within a few weeks.” I found that answer quite strange since she contacted me so quickly after I sent out my resume.

    The ironic thing is that I actually met the owner/founder of this particular company a number of years ago and he was one of the nicest people you could ever meet. He, personally, has a strong reputation in his field of treating everyone well and with respect. However, this experience really left a sour taste in my mouth.

  7. Jacob Share

    Cheryl- I can imagine it left a sour taste! It’s certainly frustrating when they get your hopes up with the aggressive calling, only to dash them so completely with a garbage interview. But look on the bright side- now you have a worst-case scenario to compare every other interview to 🙂

  8. Cheryl

    No doubt about! Thanks for allowing me to share this with you.

  9. Richie Colbeth

    My interviewer, one of four, falsely accused me of committing a felony before I even sat down ! It shocked the other interviewers, the interview never got off the ground for me and a far less qualified person than me was hired.

  10. Gopalkrishna

    HI Jacob I had bad interview experiences. What should I do if your interviewer in biased against you . I have faced such situations in the technical interviews. I am technical person. I have faced interviewers ,from whose questions I would like to make they were prejudiced . Once that interviewer continuously kept interrupting me. When I answered questions correctly also he would find some words in that sentence and ask the questions which are really irrelevant for the position I am being hired for. That person was trying to find fault with all my correct answers even when there was no scope for any wrong things. How do we handle such irritating technical interviewer.?

    1. Jacob Share

      Reread point 3) in the article, which covers exactly your situation. I’ll just add that if an interviewer is prejudiced, the only way you might be able to have a ‘happy ending’ is if you stay professional and manage to impress someone else who might be watching, because it’s unlikely that an interviewer will suddenly lose their prejudice (although stranger things have happened). It’s worth knowing too that unfortunately, sometimes a decision has already been made before the interview begins and it might have nothing to do with you personally. It’s frustrating and unfair but it happens, so just accept it, forget it and move on to the next interview asap while doing the best you can to research the company so you know they definitely need people like you.

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