The Cold Interview

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At some point, you’ll be interviewing at a company, and you can immediately tell that the interviewer doesn’t want to be there. They might be frustrated or cold, or annoyed. One way or another, your interviewer is unhappy about interviewing you. What can you do when this happens?

Prepare for the Worst

Sadly, I have to start this article by saying that this interviewer is probably not going to give you high marks.

The upshot here is that most interviews these days aren’t decided by a single person. They often involve groups sharing their input before making a decision. That means one person’s bad day doesn’t always mean losing an opportunity, but it might mean they vote against you.

How Do You Know?

Most people I have seen and coached can tell immediately when something about their interviewer is off. As humans, we’re pretty good at getting a feel for the temperament of those around us and pretty poor at hiding it.

That means that if you suspect they are in a bad mood, they probably are.

Ironically, more than a few of them will pretty much tell you something at the beginning that will clue you in like:

  • I really don’t have time for this today
  • I might have to cut this interview short
  • There was a scheduling thing, and I didn’t even know I was doing this
  • It’s one of those days

You can also tell from their tone of voice and facial expressions that they aren’t in a good mood.

What Can You Do

Alright, I’m about to give some advice that I have not personally used yet. So if you try it and it works, let me know!

If you have a cold interviewer, your job is to use your time to warm them up.

I want them to tell me what’s bothering them and what is eating them up. I want them to tell me all the things that are overwhelming them. I want them to vent, rant, and get it all out.

For most folks, if you get them talking, they will talk until they are out of time.

Now, let’s imagine you do this, and the person opens their flood gates about what is going on for them. When they debrief about the interview, they will likely say that they didn’t get to ask many questions but that you were a good listener and that they would gladly have you on their team.

The reason is that you made their day better.

That is a far more favorable position to begin than them remembering that day when they were in a bad mood and filtering every interaction with you through that same bad-mood filter.