Mastering the Bad Interview

By Lisa Correu, Principal/Job Search Advocate, AfterSchool Career Workshops

We’ve all read some great advice on how to ace an interview and get hired (if you're a hiring manager here are a couple of tips for you, too) but we sometimes make the mistake of thinking we’re interviewing in a perfect world. Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible you’ll meet with someone who doesn’t actually know how to conduct an interview. 

So how do you deal with an interviewer who seems uninterested, combative, distracted, or just plain lost? Knowing how to speak confidently about yourself, your assets, and the right questions to ask before you walk in the door can actually guide the interview along when it careens into your worst nightmare except you’re not naked. Here are some pointers on how to keep it going:

Of course you’ll have some hard copies of your resume with you but don’t just sit there awkwardly while the interviewer barely peruses it. Have some concise statements about yourself and your most important value or skill, the type of opportunity you’re looking for and what you can offer to the organization. Most of the time an entry-level position takes some of the “busy work” off the plate of the manager so emphasize your organizational skills, willingness to learn, follow directions and your ability to retain information.  Have an example ready.

Know the job description and how you meet or even exceed the criteria. “I know your opening requires good knowledge of Microsoft Office and I’m well versed in all the software. I also have good skills in InDesign and Access if there’s ever a need for it.” If you had similar duties during an internship be sure to point this out.

Have questions ready about the job. What are the most important skills you’re looking for in this position? What’s the organizational structure? Is this a path position? What do you see as the biggest challenge facing your department in the next year? What do you like about working here?

Do your research on the company so you can bring up specific details during a lull in the conversation. Congratulate them on recent company successes, new clients or press mentions. You’ll also make a good impression when your interviewer sees you’ve chosen their company for a reason and not just any old job.

Remember that the hiring manager is filling a need with this position and in the current economic times it may be a hire they’ve had to postpone. This means you could be interviewing with an overworked and harried individual. Be patient, know what makes you great, and let them see why hiring you is a fantastic idea.

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