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How to Survive a Rude or Disagreeable Interviewer

During the course of job interviewing, you may run into several rude or disagreeable interviewers. What should you do when an interviewer’s manner is offensive? That depends upon who’s doing the talking. When the interviewer is the person who would be your boss, be certain that you’re not misunderstanding intent.

If the conversation really is disrespectful, bail out unless you want to spend most of your waking hours dealing with a difficult person. Show class. Just say “Thank you for your time. I don’t think this job is a good fit for me.” It may leave the interviewer regretful that you’re the good one who got away.

Here are some coping techniques you can use when dealing with a snippy interviewer:

  • Smile and make a light remark: “Oh, do you think so? That bears watching.”

  • Respond with a two-second non-answer, and then quickly ask a question: “That’s an interesting observation. It reminds me to ask you what role would the person in this position play in the new company product launch.”

  • Pretend the rude remark is a dropped call that you didn’t hear. Take a pause, and talk about your accomplishments or skills.

  • When an interviewer keeps interrupting or contradicting you, look puzzled and ask for clarification. “Perhaps I’m not following you correctly. Could you please restate the question or explain what you mean by . . . ?”

When the interviewer is doing preliminary screening, give the employer the benefit of the doubt by assuming that the interviewer doesn’t represent the entire company and will be working five floors below you in a subbasement.

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