How to Handle an Aggressive Interviewer

How to Handle an Aggressive Interviewer

Most hiring managers and interviewers are friendly throughout the interview process, except for a few curve balls to observe how you react. However, you may occasionally come across someone unpleasant, aggressive, or plain cruel, forcing you to reply diplomatically at the moment.


In recent years, the interview process has evolved from a harsh and interrogative approach to one that is more gentrified and civilized.


It would be naive to believe that hostile interviewers have vanished. They do, and there's a chance you'll run into one of them at some point. The hostile interviewer will not only ask difficult questions but will also ask them in a combative manner. When a candidate's mask is pushed to breaking point, the goal behind hostile interviewing is that the candidate's mask would collapse, revealing a more authentic picture of the applicant. Candidates may find hostile interviews particularly unsettling, making it difficult to think clearly and jeopardising an interviewee's performance.

Rather than being caught off guard, prepare for this possibility just like you would for any other component of the interview. Keep these pointers in mind as you prepare for your next job interview, and you'll be prepared to ace it no matter what.


Related: Interview With Hiring Manager: Everything you need to know

1. Maintain a calm, collected demeanor

When someone is nasty or violent toward you, your immediate reaction may be to strike back. Rather than snapping, resist the impulse to lash out and instead remain cool, calm, and collected. Begin by taking a small breather to regain your composure, even if it means asking for a restroom break to sprinkle some cool water on your face.



An interviewer may include one or two unpleasant comments or questions to see how you react to the scenario. If a challenging issue arises at work, the last thing you want to appear is incapable of dealing with it. This is your opportunity to show that you can handle any situation. Concentrate on the task at hand, which is to present oneself in the best light possible throughout the interview. Because that alone is a significant red flag, the business will lose out on a terrific employee like yourself.


2. Don't take it personally


When dealing with someone who is abrasive or nasty, keep in mind that even the nicest people have terrible days. Maybe your interviewer's supervisor is putting a lot of pressure on them to discover the ideal applicant. Perhaps they are going through a difficult time in their personal life.


Even though it appears that the hatred is intended for you, it most likely isn't. Rather than taking their abrasiveness personally, stick to your game plan and answer each question calmly and confidently. Don't take the interviewer's animosity personally until they make personal remarks about you. The interviewer's animosity isn't directed simply at you. Every candidate is treated the same way. This method of thinking about it can help you feel less defensive, allowing you to think more clearly and respond more effectively. If you need to, take a toilet break and return ready to continue and present your most polite self.



3. Engage Them in a Dialogue

Use it as an opportunity to change the topic around if whatever they say comes across as rude or unfriendly. When you put them in the spotlight and ask them questions that demonstrate you care, their demeanor can swiftly shift from negative to positive. Why? Because people enjoy discussing themselves


If you're having trouble getting the interviewer to talk about themselves while learning more about the organization, try these fast and easy questions:

  • How long have you been with the firm?
  • What principles and/or attributes influenced your decision to work for this company?
  • What is your favorite aspect of working at the firm?


4. Stay Confident

Give the interviewer a solid handshake, make eye contact, and greet with a warm, yet confident, smile right away to demonstrate your inner strength. These forceful techniques show the interviewer that you are not a pushover. This information may help to keep the interviewer's rage at bay: they'll know you're not going to crumble under pressure. Setting the correct tone at the start of the interview can make a huge difference in your self-assurance.




5. You can leave

While annoying and disrespectful, a few harsh comments are usually a bearable part of an otherwise satisfactory interview. It is not appropriate, however, for someone to personally attack you or make you feel unsafe. Don't be scared to leave if you feel threatened.


Let the interviewer know you don't think you're a suitable fit for this position and dismiss yourself from the scenario if you feel intimidated during your interview if the situation crosses a line. 


If you make it to the end of the interview, try to maintain a positive attitude and confidence.


If an interviewer is antagonistic to the point of inciting fear or possible physical danger, I propose that the candidate gently leave himself from the room or area and speak with someone in higher authority, says Rachel Ingegneri, human resources specialist and author of Ten Minutes to the Job Interview. She claims that the information may be obtained from a receptionist or secretary. If there is no one else to speak with, Ingegneri advises leaving the premises as quickly as possible.



How to Deal With a Rough Interviewer

Even the greatest and most experienced job seekers might be easily thrown off by an interviewer who is unpleasant, unfriendly, or aggressive. Rather than becoming agitated and frustrated, apply the ideas and methods listed above to help you stay on track and land the job. If the situation escalates to the point of harassment or personal attack, it's best to leave and follow up with someone else at the organization. You'll show you can handle any scenario if you use your best judgment and stay cool until it's no longer possible.


This article was written by Nicholas T. Mushayi a consultant at the Industrial Psychology Consultants. He can be contacted at

Nicholas Mushayi
Super User
This article was written by Nicholas a Super User at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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