What Do You Do If Your Interviewer Seems Unprepared?

The day is finally here! It’s time for your big job interview! You’ve been preparing for days, weeks—maybe even months—and you feel confident about your ability to showcase your skills. But it’s not outside the realm of possibility—or even that unusual—to show up to an interview only to discover it’s the interviewer who’s unprepared. And let’s face it—all the preparation in the world isn’t going to help if the person asking the questions isn’t, well, asking good questions. Read on for some tips to get you through in case you find yourself in an interview emergency.

interviewer unprepared

Have A Thirty-Second Pitch Ready To Go

It’s always a good idea to prepare a short speech that covers the highlights of your career contributions and trajectory. Why? Because it really comes in handy at times like these. If your interviewer seems to stumble and doesn’t know much about you (in other words, he or she has clearly not read a single word of your resume), it’s time to launch into your (brief) pitch on past workplaces and project successes. Just make sure to practice at home and keep it at thirty seconds or under—no one likes a rambler.

Offer To Connect The Dots

Start out with something like, “I know you’re busy. Should I give you some information about myself?” You might feel frustrated, but remember, we’ve all had times where we weren’t as prepared as we’d like to be—do the interviewer (and yourself) a favor and steer the interview back on track. If she gives you the go ahead, connect the information you give about yourself with the specific role you’re interviewing for—that way, you can guide the interviewer through the job description (which, depending on just how unprepared she is, may have also gotten lost in the shuffle) and connect it directly to your list of experiences and victories.

Ask Questions

When in doubt, turn it around by asking the interviewer a question that will open up the opportunity to align your experiences with the job description. Questions such as, “Is there anything else you’d like to know about my past job experiences that would be helpful in evaluating me for this role?” or “What particular strengths are you looking for in this position?” will pave the way for the interviewer to focus on the task at hand. And whatever answer you receive, try to loop back around to the experiences and strengths you have.

If All Else Fails, Offer To Bow Out Politely

Despite all your attempts to guide the conversation, your interviewer is too invested in checking emails or glancing at his phone to give a proper interview. If you’ve tried all of the above and none of it has resulted in any improvement, the time has come to be a little more (politely) straightforward. Ask if the interviewer would like to reschedule or offer to return to the waiting room until he’s ready. As long as you remain gracious throughout the interaction, the chances are high the interviewer will either gladly take you up on your offer or realize how he’s coming across—if not, you’ve just been given a good idea of what working at the organization will be like.

No matter how off track the interview goes, you’ll never walk out of the room with a bad experience as long as you stick to the message of highlighting your own career victories and skills as they relate to the position at hand. After all, just because the interviewer proves totally unprepared doesn’t mean you should be!

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