A previous post of mine referenced a particularly difficult interviewer I encountered a number of years ago. He was not the only one.ย 


So, why would people be difficult or act like an asshole? It could be because they have an off day, however it is more likely they are using a stress interview technique to see how the candidate reacts under pressure or stress.ย Some Companies even use the old faithful ‘good cop / bad cop’, which can be great fun to navigate.


Stress Interview questions are no problem to navigate, once you recognize what they are, don’t lose your cool and work through the answer methodically.ย 


The attached youtube clip shows a TV presenter Interview Robert Downey Junior for an up and coming movie release. The Interviewer starts to dig and get more and more personal as the interview progresses, perhaps he wants to make a name for himself by testing his Interviewee by asking ‘hard-hitting questions’. RDJ does give the Interviewer the benefit of the doubt on many occasions, but eventually decides he has been pushed too far.


While this context is in some ways different to a job interview, in many ways it is the same:

  • In any discussion, we react and feed off the energy of the Interviewer/s.
  • Each of us has values and morals and if pushed too far or if someone makes you feel small you will retreat and the purpose of the interaction will not be successful.
  • Emotions do play a part in interviewing, practicing stress interviewing techniques help greatly, if you have a coach, go through the discomfort in advance.
  • Interviewing is a two way street, You want to work for a supportive boss / great company and they want a great candidate, show respect and it should be given back to you.

“They may forget what you said โ€” but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
โ€”Carl W. Buehner


Of course, the Interviewer may just be an asshole. In that case, will that fact change when you report directly to them? More than likely not.ย 


There is a difference between testing a candidate / seeing what they are made of and not treating someone with respect. You can do your own due diligence on the hiring manager through your network. Usually a person’s reputation precedes them.ย 


Despite what happened in this Interview, I would always coach candidates to see out the job Interview, even if it is stressful, difficult or the Interviewers behaviour is far from ideal. There is more to be learned from an interaction like this.


You decide in the end who to work for, the better prepared you are for interviews, the more likely you are to recognize a situation like this and pass the test with flying colours, plus you will have more options open in deciding who you wish to associate yourself with.