Difficult Interview Situations #3

There are a number of situations that come up during job interviews
that require a bit of finesse to navigate. Especially given the power dynamics
of job interviews. You may feel awkward trying to address these situations with
the interviewer, however, not addressing your concern can lead to making
misinformed decisions. I recently published a couple of awkward interview
situations. Here are a couple more of those situations and how to address them.

You’re completely
stumped by an interview question.

If you’re totally stumped by an interview
question, the worst thing you can do is to try to bluff your way through it. If
the question is an important one, the interviewer is going to be able to tell
you’re bluffing, and that’s not good. Instead, be up-front about it. You’ll come
across as having more integrity, and good interviewers will appreciate seeing
you handle the situation with grace.

What to say depends on the type of question you
were asked. If it’s a question about your knowledge of something, acknowledge
that you don’t know and then talk about how you’d go about finding the answer:

“Hmmm, you know, I actually don’t know the answer to that! When I’ve
encountered similar things in the past, I’ve done X and Y and that usually gets
me pointed in the right direction.”

On the other hand, if the question is more along
the lines of “Tell me about a time when you had to do X” and you can’t think of
a good example to share, just be honest about that. Then, ideally, you’d either
share an example of something related although not identical or talk about how
you think you’d approach the situation if it occurred. For example:

“It’s a good question. I’m having trouble thinking of a time when I’ve
encountered that at work. But if it did come up, I’d approach it this way …”

You think you
botched the interview.

Walking out of an interview knowing that you failed
it is a terrible feeling! And it might make you wonder if there’s any way to
get a do-over or otherwise acknowledge to the interviewer that you know you
weren’t at your best.

For what it’s worth, I’ve talked to a lot of
people who thought they botched the answers to a question or two and still
ended up getting the job. Some questions don’t matter nearly as much as others,
and sometimes people’s self-assessments are just off.

But if you’re convinced your interview was a fiasco,
you have a few different options for how to handle it.

If you feel like you just messed up on a question
or two, as opposed to the entire interview, you could send the interviewer a
thank-you note that reiterates your interest in the job and says something like

“I realized after we spoke that when you asked me about X, I should have
said ____. I realized I’d misunderstood the question afterwards and wanted to
correct it!”

If the issue is that the interviewer asked a lot
of questions in an area you’re not as strong in, you could say something like
this in your thank-you note:

“I want to be up-front about the fact that I don’t have a lot of experience
X, although I do think that my background in Y would be really useful in
helping you achieve Z.” (But keep in mind that if they’re really looking for
serious experience in X, this may not be a job you’ll succeed in — which means
it’s a job you don’t want.)

If you were just having an off day (didn’t sleep
the night before, dealing with bad personal news, recovering from illness,
etc.), and you’re sure it impacted you in ways the interviewer picked up on,
you can say something like this:

“I want to be transparent that I wasn’t at my best when we spoke, due to a
relatively sleepless night the night before. If we have the chance to talk
again, I hope you’ll see the difference!” (But do be sure that the interviewer
would have picked up on it before saying this, since if they didn’t, this can
be a surprising note to receive.)

Will any of this make a difference? Maybe, maybe not. It really depends on the interviewer’s assessment, what they care about most and what they’re de-prioritizing, and what the rest of the candidate pool is like. But it’s worth a shot.

Rick ChristensenRick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice

Rick has been a career consultant for almost 30 years, serving a very broad-based and diverse clientele. His specialties include effective group facilitation, one-on-one coaching and consultation at all levels including senior executives.

Rick’s passion is coaching individuals through career transitions, developing career management strategies and in identifying and sharpening competencies to open doors to new opportunities. His efforts have assisted thousands of individuals achieve their full potential.

Contact Rick at: Rick@CareerDevelopmentPartners.com

Published at Thu, 26 Aug 2021 11:50:48 +0000
Originally Posted at: Difficult Interview Situations #3