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How to Handle the Good Cop, Bad Cop Interviewer Game

"Good cop, bad cop" is a tactic you see in movies and TV shows all the time. One cop plays a hard-ass who isn’t willing to help the person, but when he/she leaves the room, their partner plays friendly and sympathetic. It’s all a ruse to get the person to do what they want!

Interviewers sometimes like to use this tactic as it helps to catch applicants off guard. One interviewer will ask a lot of tough questions which will have the applicant sweating bullets. Then another interviewer will come in, and their friendly demeanor will help the applicant relax. When they are all chummy, they’ll pose a few questions that the applicant, caught off guard, will end up answering the wrong way.

Don’t let this be you! Here’s how to handle a "good cop, bad cop" interview:


1. Be Prepared

The "bad cop" part of the routine is always going to be tough as the questions asked are designed to be challenging and hard to answer. But, if you’ve taken the time to prepare your answers beforehand, you’ll be much more easily able to give the "right" answer to the questions.

To prepare your answers to all the tough interview questions, visit our Interview Preparation section. We’ve got the tricks to help you have the right answers ready to go!

2. Take a Deep Breath

The best way to avoid being scared during the "bad cop" part of the interview is to take a deep breath, calm your thoughts, and relax. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied by the interviewer, but control the pace and flow of the interview. Your calm under fire will earn approval from the interviewer, though they won’t show it.

3. Don't Become Aggressive or Angry

You may find that the "bad cop" routine is all about putting you on the defensive to see how you react. If you lash out with anger or aggression, it will be the wrong thing to do.

This is all about how well you perform in high-stress situations, so make it a point to control your reactions. Don’t take it personally if you are being grilled with hard-to-answer questions that seem unpleasant. Control your temper and remind yourself that this is just another test.

4. Don't Relax Too Much

When the "good cop" comes into the room to interview you, that’s when you tend to relax and make the most mistakes. You’ve survived the grilling, so you see this "nice" interviewer as a new "friend" who is interested in helping you out. You’re more than happy to answer all of their questions, and you may make a mistake.

Don’t let yourself be caught off guard. Remember: this is part of the same interview! Don’t let the friendly manner fool you into making a mistake.

5. Watch Your Words

Give yourself time to think about every question, and watch what you say. The questions may seem easier to answer, but they aren’t. In fact, these are the loaded questions, the ones where you are more likely to make a mistake. You need to be prepared to answer these questions as well, and watch what you say!

See Also: 10 Things Not to Wear to a Job Interview

It’s not an easy interview to get through, but if you follow the tips above, you’ll come out of it looking like a much more attractive candidate for hire!