INTERVIEWS / APR. 22, 2014
version 6, draft 6

How to Handle an Intimidating interviewer

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We've all had those interviewers that intimidate us--often on purpose. They loom very, very large, and they tend to be almost aggressive with their questions. We sweat bullets through every minute of the interview, and sigh with relief the minute we finally escape from the sweatbox where we just spent the last half hour trying not to break down.

Don't let yourself be intimidated by interviewers! It's tough, but you can handle it if you're prepared.

Control Your Reaction

Intimidating interviewers won't smile, won't react, and won't do anything to let you know if you're doing well or not. They may use subtle scare tactics, or they'll rapid-fire questions at you.

Don't show that you are intimidated, but control the way you react. Sit firmly in your chair, take deep breaths, and answer the questions calmly and at your own pace. Often the interviewer is just trying to see how you'll handle yourself under pressure.

Prepare for Negative Responses

If the interviewer is trying to see how you handle negative feedback, they may say things like "I've never heard a worse answer to that question before." Well, truth be told, they wouldn't tell you if they had heard a worse answer, but they're trying to intimidate and scare you.

Be ready for that negative response, and don't let it get you nervous. If you go into your interview ready for an assault, you'll find that it will be much easier to hold up under the pressure of negative feedback.

Remember: They're Just Doing Their Job

The interviewer may not really be a jerk, but they’re just acting that way as part of the interview strategy. He or she may actually be quite pleasant, so keep that in mind.

Don't treat them like they're a jerk, but show your grace under fire. Take a deep breath when the questions sound like a personal attack, and try to avoid becoming defensive. Be the professional you are.

Go Slow, Be Clear

When you are getting those rapid-fire questions, the last thing you want to do is respond quickly. You lose clarity of thought when you go fast, so make sure to take your time answering the questions.

Stress and intimidation will cut your brain power in half, so make sure that you take the time to breathe, think, and answer at your own pace.

Meditate and Clear Your Mind

Meditation offers many health benefits, including lowered blood pressure and a reduction in your stress. It will help to center you BEFORE you walk into that interview, and it will clear your mind of all worries. You'll find that it can keep your nerves steady and calm, so take advantage of those few minutes before the interview to meditate and relax.

Be Ready for the Interview

Often you'll be nervous BEFORE the interview, and meeting the intimidating interviewer just makes things worse.

The best way to avoid those pre-interview nerves is to be prepared, with your resume memorized, your answers handy, and your mind at ease. Prepare, prepare, prepare, and you will have a much easier time staying cool under fire.

Do you have any horrible experiences of with intimidating interviewers? Your thoughts and comments below please…

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