Developing Your Career

Developing Your Career

Five Tips for Taking Control of an Interview

By Greg Simpson on August 5, 2013

Did you ever leave an interview scratching your head and wondering, “What just happened in there?” If so, you may have just experienced a hiring manager who isn’t well versed in the art (and science) of interviewing. When this happens, be prepared to take control and use it to your advantage.

There are countless reasons why a hiring manager may not conduct the best interview. It could be that there are distractions that make concentration difficult or that fatigue has set in from meeting with a long list of applicants. Some managers are simply uncomfortable conducting interviews due to inadequate training. Whatever the reason, you still want to do whatever you can to position yourself as the best candidate.

Here are five tips for guiding a preoccupied or unskilled interviewer:

  1. Put the interviewer at ease. The quickest way to help people feel comfortable is to acknowledge them with a smile. Remember, a smile produces small bursts of endorphins (neurotransmitters that create a sense of well-being) in both the person smiling and the recipient.
  2. Take work samples. Even a manager with poor interviewing skills will be comfortable scrolling through a portfolio and discussing your work product.
  3. Probe for information. Asking questions related to the open position and organization will stimulate dialogue and provide you with valuable intelligence.
  4. Assert yourself. If you’re not given an opportunity to discuss your on-the-job accomplishments adequately, ask the interviewer for an opportunity to outline your qualifications for the position and then summarize your relevant achievements.
  5. Help close the interview. At the close of the interview, prompt the manager for a hiring timeline by asking when you should follow up and then ask for a business card if he/she has forgotten to provide one.

So the next time you encounter an obviously uncomfortable or ill-prepared interviewer, take the opportunity to gently assume control of the meeting and steer it to your advantage.

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