Tech & Work

What do you do when an interviewer is a jerk?

In my last blog, I gave some do's and don'ts for interviewing. That was a list of things you, as the interviewee, have some control over.

But what do you do when the person conducting the interview is a jerk? Case in point: A few years ago, I applied for a job with a small, local college. I was scheduled for a three-part interview over the course of three days. First, I met with a group of folks I would be working with indirectly; second, with a group that I would be working with on a day-to-day basis; and third, with the guy who would be my boss.

The first two interviews went well. I felt a rapport with those folks and came out of the interviews feeling confident.

Then I met the big guy. His title was Vice Chancellor of something or other. He had me wait quite awhile outside his office. (During that time, one of the guys from the previous interviews came past, gave me the thumbs up gesture and said, "We're pulling for you!")

Then VC guy's secretary came out to get me to escort me the 3.2 feet into his office. Of course, he was on the phone and I sat there for a few minutes before he hung up and acknowledged me. We shook hands, and the first words out of his mouth were, "So, what do you know about me?"

Now, I had done my homework. I knew the enrollment size of the school, what the department goals were, and the public relations programs they were running. I even knew what role this guy played. But did I know anything about him in particular? No. Could I have? No. I learned later that the Vice Chancellor title was doled out just about everywhere on that campus. There was probably even a Vice Chancellor in charge of Vending Machines.

In answer to his question, I kind of stumbled around reiterating what I knew of his job role. He interrupted me with a discourse about where he went to school, what he did before he got there, and how his wife was one of the leading realtors in the area, and even the kind of car he drove. And, of course, during all this he was adopting the arrogant, leaned-back-in-chair-with-hands-behind-the-head power pose.

When we finally got around to my qualifications, he acted bored and distracted.

Before I walked into his office, I wanted that job with a passion. But in the course of a few minutes I knew I could not take it if it were offered to me. I can handle a lot of quirks in people. And I even like eccentricities. But it is not physically or emotionally possible for me to indulge an undeservedly inflated ego like the one this man was nurturing. And I knew pretty quickly that that's what the job would entail. Life is just too short.

I mustered every inch of tact I had to get through the interview but I'm pretty sure that, while my words were polite, my body language was saying, "I hope you lose all your money in a bad investment and that your wife leaves you for the pool boy."

Do you have any jerk-interviewer stories to share?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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