7 awkward interview scenarios and how to get round them
Sep 23, 2019
You say a swear. You normally don’t, but the pressure gets to you and it just slips out. Surely that’s an instant interview dismissal? Well, it’s certainly not ideal to present yourself as a potty mouth, but it’s possible that it might not have been heard. If the shock on your interviewer’s face suggests otherwise, simply apologise and move on. From that point, pretend it never happened and focus on killing the interview for all the right reasons.
You go completely blank. You know words. You even know sentences. You’ve answered millions of questions in the past. But now? You have nothing. Nada. Bupkis. Your mind is a cavern of emptiness, and panic ensues. It’s agonising when it happens, but it’s still salvagable. Take a deep breath (or three), grab a sip of water and think carefully. They’re not trying to trick you or catch you out, so keep it simple and give a short answer if you’re still struggling.
You end up criticising your current boss. We all know this is a no-no. It doesn’t take a genius for your interviewers to work out that if you’re having a go at your existing colleagues you’ll probably do the same in this role. They won’t want a troublemaker in the ranks! Having said that, you can carefully explain why you said it and give examples of positive relationships with former colleagues to bring things back around.
You get caught in a lie. Again, this shouldn’t happen to people like you and me. I mean, we’re good, upstanding citizens, right? But what happens if you’ve embellished your CV a bit and forgotten by the time your interview comes round (poor interview prep on your part, by the way!)? Or maybe you answered an early question in such a way that your subsequent answers don’t sound plausible. It’s for you to decide whether to ’fess up’ or not. In an ideal world, you will simply correct the ‘lie’ by explaining the context and clarifying any potential misunderstandings. Remember that honesty is always the best policy.
You forget to switch off your phone. Halfway through your interview you hear the opening bars to ‘Despacito’ bellowing out of your phone. It’s plunged into the deepest chasm of your pocket under the snotty tissue that falls out as you struggle to retrieve it. You finally manage to switch it off (your poor mum; she was only ringing to find out how it went!), but you’re left red-faced and flustered. First, compose yourself, then apologise. As soon as you can, get back to answering questions with panache. By the end of the interview, the horrendous memory will have faded.
You sweat like a fish (do fish sweat?). This can be really embarrassing, especially if you have big sweat patches under your arms or your face looks like it got caught in a hose. Worse still if you have to shake hands with the clammiest palm known to man. Again, take a deep breath. It’s perfectly normal for your nerves to manifest in sweat overload. Hopefully you remembered to put deodorant on, which should produce a pleasant odour and prevent buckets of water collecting on the floor. Remove or unbutton top layers, where appropriate, and dab your face with a clean tissue (not the snotty one from scenario five). Having done all you can to minimise the problem, focus on the interview rather than your perspiration.
You have a wardrobe malfunction. A button pops off your blouse halfway through an impressive monologue. Or you look down and notice that your flies are undone. Or perhaps you were offered a cuppa while you waited to be called in and tipped it all over yourself. These situations can be extremely embarrassing, especially if you end up revealing more of yourself than you’d have liked. Be professional, and try not to draw too much attention to the problem. If you can, find a way to cover your modesty (or coffee stain). These things happen, and I’m sure your interviewer will empathise rather than counting it as a major strike, providing you are able to demonstrate that you have what it takes to get the job done.