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Interviewing Techniques: dealing with “difficult” Interviews

Posted in Employers on Nov 09, 2010 by Rejuvenate Productions

There is no doubt that meeting a potential employer for the first time can be nerve wracking, so how as an Interviewer can you put your candidates at ease, gain the information you need and maintain control of the interview.

Preparation and a solid understanding of the job will go a long way – make sure you fully understand the job being offered, ask relevant colleagues any questions beforehand and make sure you have all the information you require to hand in the interview.

Make sure you have a clear format, style and time frame for the interview - make sure the candidate knows what is going to happen (this will put them at ease and give you structure).

- Focus your questions on job-related evidence

- Don’t ask too many closed or leading questions

- Make sure to move beyond the information on the CV or application form

- Probe the candidate’s claims, especially skill assertions

- Establish and check all important facts, and summarise

- Make sure all your questions are relevant, comprehensible and lawful


How to deal with...

Reticent, quiet candidates require plenty of ice-breakers. Talk about non-threatening areas of the candidate’s experience. Get the candidate talking as quickly as possible, and accept the candidate’s initial answers without excessive probing.

Suspicious candidates require a clear explanation of format and purpose of the interview. Flag up areas of questioning in advance.

Overly talkative candidates use over disclosure as a strategy. Close the candidate down by using prompts like “tell me briefly about…”, and also use summaries and closed questions to maintain control.

The assertive know-it-all will score points over you during the interview. Re-assert control where necessary by introducing new question topics, probing, and summarising. Raise the level of questions in order to get the candidate thinking more about the subject matter than the progress of the interview.


Vague candidates need probing to check knowledge and skills. Do not accept candidates’ own assertions of their skill levels – seek evidence of what they have actually done.

Where a candidate has poor listening skills, repeat questions to maintain focus, or reframe them to make them simpler.

Bearing these points in mind will help you to make the right choice when interviewing and comparing candidates, and ultimately lead to making the best choice for your team and business.


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