Interviewing Tips for Five Different Types of Hiring Managers

Did you land an interview? Congratulations, you’re halfway to the promise of a new job! You’re armed with interviewing tips and feel fully prepared as you walk in the door. But then you encounter an interviewer who completely throws you off. He’s either totally unprepared (e.g., lost your resume) or he makes you feel really awkward (e.g., long periods of silence). Well, sometimes bad things happen to good interviewees.

Regardless of how much you practice, you never know what to expect when you meet the hiring manager. To help you stay in control, here are interviewing tips to adjust to five types of common interviewers:

1. The bumbler. Bumblers have virtually no idea how to conduct an effective job interview. They know they need to hire someone, but they haven’t gotten around to formulating specific hiring criteria or asking probing interview questions. They tend to base their impressions of you on factors that have almost nothing to do with what it takes to do the job.

Advice: Bumblers are often easy to impress, but you have to lead them. When dealing with a bumbler, stay in command of your own story and keep reiterating your strengths.

2. The chatterbox. Chatterboxes like to talk. And talk. And talk. They talk about themselves, the company, their kids, their workout regimen, their pets, their hobbies … If you’re lucky, they’ll get around to the specifics of the job. They talk so much, in fact, and so incessantly that if you’re not careful, you may never get a chance to present your case.

Advice: Pick your spots to dart in and out of the interviewer’s conversation, making short (but self-serving) comments that play off whatever the chatterbox is chattering about. One of the most overlooked interviewing tips is to ask your own questions. Pose pointed questions specific to the job or company, and redirect the chatterbox back to those topics if the rambling resumes.

3. The poker face. Poker-faced interviewers can make your skin crawl. They sit there, sphinx-like, as you talk about yourself and your qualifications. They don’t nod. They don’t smile. Nothing seems to faze or impress them. 

Advice: When it comes to interviewing tips for dealing with this type of hiring manager, the key is to stay calm. Avoid trying too hard evoke a response. Turning up the heat or your own enthusiasm isn’t likely to make a difference with truly stoic interviewers. You’re probably making an impression: It’s simply not registering on the interviewer’s face.

4. The gamesperson. Gamespeople view the job interview as a game of cat and mouse. Their main goal is finding ways to trip you up. Sometimes they are subtle and harmless; other times they can be mean-spirited, like ignoring you when you walk in the door as a “test” to see how assertive you are. 

Advice: If you feel like you’re being tested, determine which reaction would best serve your own interests. If the interviewer is simply rude, you need to ask yourself if you want to work for this person or company. One of the best interviewing tips is to remain cool and professional at all times, but set boundaries if any situation is making you uncomfortable.

5. The late interviewer. It’s unreasonable to expect every interview to start exactly on time. But if the interviewer is running 20 or 30 minutes late, and you haven’t been given an apology or explanation, consider rescheduling. This approach might serve you better if you suspect the interviewer is under pressure or time constraints. 

Advice: Be careful to conceal whatever impatience you may be feeling. If you suggest rescheduling the interview, convey that you understand that unexpected events frequently happen in business and that you would be happy to return when things are less hectic. 

The above examples and interviewing tips are courtesy of Job Hunting for Dummies, 2nd Edition (John Wiley & Sons). We’d like to read your stories about the types of interviewers you’ve encountered. Add them in the comments section below.