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Smart Ways To Avoid Tense Conflicts In The Job Interview Process

Smart Ways To Avoid Tense Conflicts In The Job Interview Process

Going to a job interview is a stressful event. It’s even tougher when the job market is tight and you’re in between roles. You’re entering the hiring process at a disadvantage. The hiring manager will still have a job after the meeting, but you might be passed over and must continue interviewing with numerous other companies in pursuit of a new opportunity.

Entering an interview scenario is nerve-racking. Your adrenaline is racing. Your mouth becomes dry, your heart is beating faster and there’s a feeling of panic. In the back of your mind, it’s hard to concentrate on the interview when you’re afraid that your emergency funds are dwindling because you have been out of work for a while. The stress and anxiety could potentially turn into a dilemma, ruining your chances of receiving a job offer.

a d v e r t i s e m e n t

The key to succeeding in the interview for job seekers is to deftly avoid potential conflicts. You can do this by having the right attitude, coming across as motivated, enthusiastic and highly interested in the role. Put aside any preconceived notions about the interview and be polite no matter how things play out.

The expression “first, do no harm” is part of the Hippocratic Oath that medical students pledge when becoming doctors. It also holds true in the interview process. For both the hiring manager and job applicant, it’s imperative to avoid any self-inflicted injuries. This means that you want to bring your best self to the meeting and treat everyone involved in the process with respect and dignity.

How Job Seekers Can Avoid Conflict

The first thing to do, which is admittedly hard, is to stay calm and composed throughout the interview process—no matter what they say or do.

To deflect a potential conflict, actively listen to the person and avoid interrupting them in the middle of the conversation. You have to show them that you are a true professional. Avoid getting defensive or going on the attack over something innocuous that the hiring manager said. If things get heated, acknowledge that you had a part in the disagreement to de-escalate the tension and continue on with the interview. Stay away from using deprecating, negative language or start blaming the interviewer for something they said.

A good hack to win people over is to show that you are locked into the conversation by actively listening to the interviewer and reframing what the interviewer asked you. Make eye contact, use their name in conversation and nod your head as the hiring manager makes salient points. If you need clarification, ask follow-up questions.

Hiring managers look for assurance that you really want the job and like the company. Therefore, it’s expected that the job candidate will enter the interview armed with all the information about the organization, including knowledge about its products and services, where the company stands relative to its competitors and its mission statement. You want to be able to clearly articulate why you want this job or else the hiring manager will be annoyed that you came in unprepared, and the interview will go downhill from there.

You Never Know If Someone Is Just Having A Bad Day

Interviewers are only human and are impacted by life events that spill into the hiring process. What I’ve seen firsthand over the last 20-plus years in recruiting is that both job applicants and managers can enter the meeting with a chip on their shoulder. It could be that the hiring manager had a spat with their spouse, their child is sick and they couldn’t find child care or they are just in a sour mood that day.

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed, the interviewer neglects to read the résumé, which irritates the job applicant. The candidate can treat this as an irrevocable egregious faux pas or let it pass. If the manager is curt, stares blankly at you and is devoid of any emotion or energy, it may be appropriate to cut your losses, politely excuse yourself and leave before the situation escalates into a full-blown conflict.

In today’s toxic environment, people are on edge. They harbor conscious and unconscious biases and sometimes it comes out during an interview. With this backdrop, you can imagine that the stressed out interviewer may make a sarcastic comment, say something mean or inappropriate and a conflict ensues.

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How Hiring Managers Can Avoid Conflict

As a representative of the organization, hiring managers should treat all job seekers with respect, putting aside all personal opinions about them. Avoid asking inappropriate or discriminatory questions pertaining to an interviewee’s race, religion or gender. Steer clear of making off-color jokes that could be misconstrued or embarrass the candidate.

To avoid any potential conflicts—both during the interview and when or if the person joins the company—look for signs of emotional intelligence by paying attention to how candidates communicate, observe their level of empathy and their ability to compromise.

The hiring professional can test candidates’ conflict resolution skills with scenario-based exercises and evaluate how they respond. Stay away from candidates who come across as angry, argumentative and seem incapable of navigating opposing viewpoints.

Demonstrate your ability to remain professional and not get defensive, even when facing accusations or disagreements. Avoid emotional or negative language that could make you seem irrational. Emphasize your willingness to work together toward a mutually agreeable outcome, and acknowledge any mistakes you made by taking accountability.




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