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Tricky Job Interview Tactics and How to Handle Them

Updated on September 3, 2011

With the economy today, the job market is fierce and employers are receiving hundreds of qualified applicants for positions they are trying to fill. In an effort to filter through all these prospective employees, hiring managers can sometimes resort to some pretty sneaky interview tactics. Here are couple of the most commonly used “tricks” used by employers in their hunt for the perfect employee and tips on how you can be prepared and get the job you want.

The Stress Interview

A stress interview is designed to see how you react to stressful situations, test your communications skills and to test your ability to think fast. In a stress interview, the interviewer will ask you some off-the-wall, sometimes even rude questions to see how you react. For example, an interviewer might say, “I see you were a waitress for 3 years. What makes you think that you are qualified for a supervisor position?” It may come across as the interviewer being rude, but this exactly what they mean do. If you react by getting offended or overly defensive, this tells them that you do not handle stress effectively. Other ways interviewers may try to make you feel uncomfortable are with long silences, smirks, and even eye- rolling.

The best way to handle a stress interview is to remain calm and confident. A good answer to the waitress question above might be, “ If I can handle a table of 12 hungry customers, that have been waiting for 2 hours to be seated on a busy Friday night then I can handle anything”, accompanied by a smile. Don’t take anything personally and make sure to exert a positive attitude, no matter what the question.

One method of conducting a stress interview is by having a group of interviewers take turns asking questions.
One method of conducting a stress interview is by having a group of interviewers take turns asking questions.


The Relaxed Interview

The exact opposite of a stress interview, this kind of interview is to fool you into being too relaxed. The interviewer may dress casually and act as more of a “friend” than a hiring manager. They will talk to you about your hobbies and interests outside of work and laugh and joke with you about things. The purpose of this type of interview is to see if you can keep your professionalism in a non-professional environment.

Many people mess up in this type of interview by allowing themselves to get a little too comfortable. The interview may consist of 2 interviewers who play off of each other. They laugh and joke and tell you not to be nervous. After they get you nice and relaxed they ask you something like, “Who was the worst supervisor you ever had and why?” Many people fall for this, thinking it is okay to talk freely and start slamming their current supervisor.

No matter how relaxed an employer makes you feel or how “cool” they seem, remember to always keep your professionalism and never to talk negatively about your current position or supervisor. If you talk trash about your current supervisor, the hiring manager assumes you would do the same to him if he hires you. A good answer to the question above could be, “I don’t think I have ever had a bad supervisor. To me, a good supervisor keeps his team motivated and informed. An example of a bad supervisor in my opinion would be someone who doesn’t review his employees regularly and doesn’t offer them opportunities for improvement. “

Be careful not to get too relaxed in a job interview. Being a little nervous is normal.
Be careful not to get too relaxed in a job interview. Being a little nervous is normal.


Non-existent Software

Sometimes an employer may ask you to rank your knowledge on a scale of 1-10 on several pieces of software. The list may start with Microsoft Word or Excel and then throw in some random pieces of software that you have never heard of. Don’t ever lie about your experience with software because there are some employers who will make up a name for a piece of software that doesn’t even exist. You might think you’re playing it safe by rating yourself a 3 so they don’t expect that much out of you when you start working with it. It is all a plan to see if you are honest about your skills and experience.



Don't pretend to have skills that you don't.
Don't pretend to have skills that you don't.


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    • cblack profile image

      cblack 7 years ago from a beach somewhere

      Thanks guys! I was recently a victim of the "too relaxed" interview and realized my mistake immediatly after I left so I wanted to share that information with others.

    • BillWhitmire profile image

      BillWhitmire 7 years ago

      Interesting article!

    • MazinkaiserPR profile image

      MazinkaiserPR 7 years ago from Illinois

      Very useful Hub thanks and keep it up...