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Keep Your Cool

   Article by Carole Martin

Handling Awkward Interview Situations

No matter how weird or crazy an interview situation gets, it is in your best interest to stay composed. The interview process is a professional experience. You are not there on a social call; you are there to check out a possible job opportunity. Sometimes unprofessional, awkward or embarrassing events occur that can test your ability to handle yourself. Let's take a look at three awkward scenarios and learn how to best remedy them.

Out of Line

Jeanette was interviewing for a senior position in human resources. Her interview was before a panel of six people. At the end of the interview, one of the interviewers says, "This job requires a lot of cheerleading. Would you please stand and lead us in a cheer?" Jeanette was totally caught off guard.


When asked to do something that would put you in a foolish position, simply smile and comment on the request: "Sorry, but I don't think I am dressed to perform that kind of cheer. But I can tell you I am a good cheerleader in another way. I have a proven record working with and motivating people." Then, give an example of when you have motivated your team.

Inappropriate Behavior

Katlyn was dressed professionally for the interview. She was enjoying talking with the man across the desk, as they had a lot of common experiences in the sales field. All of a sudden, her interviewer leaned over, looking very serious. "Would you consider going out with me," he asked in a low voice. Katlyn didn't know what to say.


It would be in Katlyn's best interest to think twice about working for a company where an employee would act so unprofessionally. This is not only sexual harassment, but it could also be considered quid pro quo -- you do something for me, and I will do something for you in return. She could answer by saying she has a personal policy that she does not date coworkers. She may not get the job, but does she really want it?

A Missed Opportunity

A senior manager who had been in the technical industry for many years was interviewing Dylan. Dylan waited patiently for the questions to begin, but they never came. The interviewer talked about himself and the management problems within the organization. The meeting ended abruptly when the interviewer stood, shook Dylan's hand and wished him luck. Standing outside, Dylan felt like he had just ridden a roller coaster. What just happened?


Sometimes interviewers simply don't know how to interview. They make a judgment, good or bad, based on first impressions. Many people who have not been screened properly have been hired and then failed at the job. Sometimes there are other factors, such as the job was already promised to someone else. Whatever the reason, you did not fail, because you weren't even given a chance. Let it go.

Unfortunately, these types of situations do occur. Let the bad experiences go, and move on to a company where you can be treated as a serious candidate. The most important thing to remember, no matter how awkward the situation, is that you are there as a professional to learn just as much about them as they are eager to learn about you.

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