Handling Awkward Job Interview Situations

Interviewing can be a challenge to your professionalism

No matter how weird or crazy the interview situation gets, it is in your best interest to “keep your cool.” The interview process is a professional experience. You are not there on a social call. You are there to check out a possible job opportunity. Sometimes unprofessional, awkward, or embarrassing events occur which can test your ability to handle yourself.

Out of line – Jeanette was interviewing for a senior position in Human Resources. Her interview was before a panel of six people. At the end of the interview, one of the interviewers asked, “This job requires a lot of ‘cheerleading,’ would you please stand and lead us in a cheer?” Jeanette was totally caught off guard.

Inappropriateness – Katlyn was dressed very professionally for the interview. She was enjoying talking with the man across the desk, as they had a lot of common experiences in the sales field. All of a sudden, her interviewer leaned over and looked very serious. “Would you consider going out with me?” he asked in a low voice. Katlyn didn’t know what to say.

An Opportunity Missed? Dylan was being interviewed by a senior manager who had been in the technical industry for many years. Dylan waited patiently for the questions to begin, but they never came. The interviewer talked about himself and the management problems within the organization. The interview end abruptly when the interviewer stood, shook Dylan’s hand, and wished him luck. Standing outside Dylan felt like he had just ridden a roller coaster. What just happened?

What would you do?

Jeanette – When asked to do something that would put you in a foolish position, simply smile and comment on the request, “Sorry, but I don’t think I am dressed to perform that kind of cheer. But, I can tell you that I am a good “cheerleader” in another way. I have a proven record working with, and motivating, people.

Katlyn – It would be in Katlyn’s best interest to think twice about working for a company, where a company representative would act so unprofessionally. This is not only sexual harassment, but could be considered, quid pro quo. You do something for me, and I will do something for you in return. She could answer by saying she has a “personal policy” that she does not date office mates. She may not get the job, but does she want it?

Dylan – Sometimes interviewers simply don’t know how to interview. They make a judgment, good or bad, on their first impression. Many a person has been hired, who was not screened properly, and failed at the job. Sometimes there are other factors – the job is already promised to someone else, a relative or former employee. Whatever the reason, you did not fail, because you were not given a chance. Let it go.

Unfortunately, things like this happen in interviews. Let the bad experience go. Move on to a place where you can be treated as a serious candidate. The most important thing to remember, no matter what takes place, is that you are there as a professional to check them out while they are checking you out.

Copyright (c) 2007 Carole Martin, The Interview Coach