It's not unusual for hiring managers to meet job seekers who present interview challenges. But just because someone is a bad interview doesn't mean the meeting is a waste of time. Following are examples of hard-to-interview personality types and advice to help small business owners elicit the information they need to evaluate candidates effectively. Use the tips below to turn bad interviews around – and potentially uncover a diamond in the rough.
The Clam. As you might assume, this type of candidate isn't much of a conversationalist. Yes, her resume is impressive, but you feel like you have to pry information out of the applicant. Although you may be tempted to fill the void with more questions, asked in ever-faster succession, try slowing the pace of the interview instead. The candidate may simply be shy and need more time to warm up to speak at length. Don't worry, it's possible to get past this bad interview and actually get to know the candidate. Just be sure that the questions you're asking are sufficiently open-ended and designed to prompt more than one-sentence replies.
The Motormouth. This job hopeful is the polar opposite of The Clam. His bad interview habit is to elaborate at length in response to questions. Like quiet applicants, those who are overly talkative may suffer from interview anxiety, only it manifests itself in a tsunami of words and possibly a nervous tic of some sort, such as foot tapping. Try not to accelerate your speech in response, as if you're expecting to be cut off. Rather, be deliberate and calm when you speak. The candidate may pick up on your cue and downshift his delivery a bit. On the other hand, if the candidate seems incapable of engaging in conversational give-and-take, it could be a sign that he's either not very perceptive or someone who is more interested in talking than listening.
The Sensitive Type. This applicant seems to internalize her work to an extreme. In discussing her current position, you get the impression that she takes suggestions or procedural changes personally, as if they were a judgment against her competence. It could be that she's simply a perfectionist who feels disappointed by any less-than-glowing feedback. On the other hand, she may be someone who has an overly fragile or inflated ego. When bad interviews like this come around, delve further to determine if difficulty taking direction is the issue.
The Smooth Talker. On the surface, this person may seem like the dream candidate. He makes a strong first impression and goes on to answer every question just right – in fact, his answers sound like carefully scripted talking points. The best approach for dealing with this candidate type is to depart from more predictable interview questions and throw a few curveballs. For instance, you might ask, "Tell me about a challenge you faced at work that you weren't able to overcome and why?" By challenging The Smooth Talker to veer from well-rehearsed answers, you should be able to gain a better sense of his personality and how he would fit in with your firm.
Bad Interviews Aren't a Dead End
It's not surprising that some job seekers find interviews highly stressful and have difficulty relaxing and letting their real personalities come through. They recognize that there's a lot on the line during these brief meetings. When you find yourself in the midst of a bad interview, try to make the candidate feel comfortable enough to reveal what he or she would be like as an employee. Just as you wouldn't want to hire someone on the basis of a single factor, you also don't want to eliminate the person too hastily because of a less-than-ideal interview demeanour.