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Take The Power From The Interviewer

Updated on June 25, 2013

Know your power and the questions that should never be asked by an interviewer

When interviewing for a job you often feel like you are at the mercy of the interviewer. Often times it feels like they are sitting in judgment of all your hard work and accomplishments. The power you feel they have to change the course of your career makes you nervous. You know this position could make a profound difference in your life.

Unfortunately, you have some interviewers who see themselves in a position of power and treat the candidate applying for the position as a peon begging for a spot at the table. I actually escorted a candidate to a hiring manager’s office for a 10:00 interview. The manager was working on their computer when we arrived at 10:00. She asked for a minute. After ten minutes went by I stuck my head back in her office. Annoyed, she asked for an additional five minutes. Those five minutes turned into twenty. She finally came out into the hallway and rudely said in front of the candidate, “I don’t have time for this today.”

As the recruiter who brought this person in and told them so many good things about the company, I was embarrassed. This was no way to treat a candidate interviewing for a job. This person had taken time off from work, rearranged their schedule only to be treated poorly by a professional organization. I know of another example where a hiring manager, who prided himself on being a member of Mensa , would try to make candidates feel intellectually inferior if they didn’t see things his way. He told one candidate his five year old could have answered a question that the candidate stumbled on.

Candidates should recognize they have just as much power and the interviewer. Interviews should be two way conversations. Just as that hiring manager is quizzing you about your education, work experience and skills, you should also be quizzing them about the job, what it takes to successful in the role, the culture of the company, it’s stability, how to get promoted etc. If the answers to your questions are not in line with your expectations and goals, you have the power to say this job isn’t for me.

Also, if you find yourself in situations like the ones I outlined above, where the hiring manager portrays themselves in less than a favorable light, take this as an early warning sign, take the power from them and decide if this is someone you would want to work for.

When interviewing for a position there are certain questions interviewers should never ask. Asking these questions could get the company in legal trouble. Below are some examples .

1. Questions regarding race, religion or ethnicity should not be asked

2. Questions regarding the origin of the candidates name should not be asked

3. Never ask a candidate when they graduated from high school or college

4. Never ask if a candidates has or is planning to have children; Do not engage them about children if they volunteer information

5. Do not comment on a person’s accent

6. Do not ask questions regarding a person’s medical history even if they volunteer information about an illness

7. Do not ask questions regarding a person’s sexual orientation

Know your power. Remember a company should be trying to impress the talent it is trying to recruit, just like you are trying to make a good impression. Their top priority should be making the candidate experience a professional one.

Have you ever felt at the mercy of your interviewer?

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      rfox21...Hi!...I enjoyed your article, especially because I am that person being interviewed, feeling nervous sometimes...I've hardly had any interviews in the year I've been unemployed...and when I have them, the person is usually pretty friendly...but I hate that question that is inevitable: what would you say is your biggest weakness?

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 

      7 years ago from New England

      Just want to add my votes to the fray in the direction of Up, Useful, and Interesting. Being well-informed and knowing the mindset of the company you want to work for is a technique that gives interviewees more power. :0)

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 

      7 years ago from Western Australia

      Very useful hub, thank you for sharing, have done few interviews in my life, on both sides and none of them helped me to feel comfortable...just not types for interwieving and interviews, I guess:)

    • rfox21 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Kieran great advice. I've actualy written about things to do in order to get the job and your advice about researching the company is highlighted. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 

      7 years ago

      Over the years I have sat on both sides of the desk, and have been appalled by some of the techniques and attitudes that I have experienced. Two things come to mind when advising those being interviewed. When you first meet the interviewer and are asked to sit down, gently move the chair so that it is at a slight angle to the desk. This gives you a small psychological advantage and is amazingly calming for the nerves. Secondly, do some research about the company so that you can come up with one or two sensible questions during the interview.

    • annescripts profile image


      7 years ago from Gilbert, AZ

      Thanks for this informative article! Voted up.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      I have to interview teachers for our preschool. I always make it a point to explain to the applicants that the interview is for me to get to know them and for them to get to know us. Most of them open up naturally. I agree about treating applicants professionally and with respect.

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. Read the details over here

    • rfox21 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Many people feel the way you do when interviewing Just Ask Susan. When asked questions that are inappropriate it is okay to say, "I prefer not answer that because it is of a personal nature. However, I would love to talk about my work experience and how my skills can benefit your organization."

    • rfox21 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Bethesda, Maryland

      Many people feel the way you do when interviewing Just Ask Susan. When asked questions that are inappropriate it is okay to say, "I prefer not answer that because it is of a personal nature. However, I would love to talk about my work experience and how my skills can benefit your organization."

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      During interviews I always feel as if I'm at the mercy of the interviewer. One job interview that I went on, I was asked if I was planning on having anymore children. Wish I'd known then that this question was not allowed. What should one do when asked any of the above questions?

      Welcome to HubPages.

    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      This is very good information. Candidates get discouraged way too much even though it's the interviewer who made the mistakes. Thank-you for an excellent, helpful and encouraging hub.

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 

      7 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      That is so true, interviews are a two way conversation and most people forget this. Great hub, enjoyed reading it. :)


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