An interview in the twilight zone…

We’ve all experienced it- an interview with a person who was just….well….annoying.  It’s so hard to walk out of an interview feeling confident when you are acutely aware that you did not really ‘click’ with the interviewer. If you go in prepared with some tools to handle the most common types of annoying people, you should still be able to walk out feeling like you aced the interview.


  • Weirdo- This is the person who has odd obsessive-compulsive behaviors that involve arranging paperclips into geometric shapes on their desk, while they’re talking to you!  The best way to deal with odd behaviors is to do the weirdo the courtesy of ignoring the behavior.  It’s possible it really is an obsessive-compulsive disorder and they literally cannot help themselves. If the weirdo seems to be paying more attention to their compulsion (picking that little piece of skin off their finger…) than they are to what you’re saying, try pausing for a couple seconds- they will notice you’ve stopped talking and look at you. When you have eye contact again, smile slightly then go on with what you were saying.  By handling it this way you will deliver the non-verbal message that you are someone who commands attention. Also, commenting on unusual behaviors could be perceived as teasing or negative, and you do not want to start out on the wrong foot with the person who will determine whether or not you become an employee.
  • The quiet man- This is the poor guy who is naturally shy, but somehow has ended up with the responsibility of conducting your interview, and his discomfort is palpable. He doesn’t know how to control the pace of the interview, nor how to move it forward, and doesn’t seem to know what to say to you.  Someone has to drive this thing, so it may as well be you- try asking the interviewer an open-ended question like, “Was there anything you saw on my resume that you would like me to explain in greater detail?” or even more bluntly, “Would you like me to start by giving you an idea of my qualifications for this position?”  If you can get into a zone where you know what you want to say and are feeling comfortable, you might even get your interviewer into that comfortable zone with you. 
  • Chatty Kathy- This person will not shut-up!  They spend the first 15 minutes of the interview telling you all about the history of the company, about the founder, about the cool benefits, about the person who just vacated the position you’re interviewing for… Then the next 15 minutes telling you all about their job and how hard they work and how much responsibility they have… This is the toughest annoying type to deal with because at some point you just need to jump in and start talking about yourself in ways that are relevant to the position.  In the worst of cases, the interviewer may even look at you like you were rude for interrupting, but you have to do it anyway or you will leave the interview without having made any impression at all.  When chatty Kathy pauses for a breath, you need to leap in by saying, “I appreciate you sharing all this good information with me because it has confirmed in my mind that I would be able to make a significant contribution to your company because of my experience in…..”