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Interviewers can all be very different from each other, coming in different shapes and sizes. It is useful to be aware of some of the general types.

The Pedant

The pedant is interested in knowing how much experience you have and how much you know. He will ask you one technical question after another - the seeming intent being to get you to either state that you do not know or to catch you out. To be fair, it may be necessary for you to be technically well-versed and the pedant may just be doing his job, which is to check whether you know enough and can do the job competently.

It can be horrible to hire an accountant who does not know what a contingent liability is or an architect who knows nothing of elevation.

Line managers and functional heads normally fall in this category. They are the ones who have a vacancy that needs to be filled and they want to make sure that you can do the job.

The Obnoxious One

Some interviewers can be obnoxious. They are rude, interrupt you and try and make you feel small. While rudeness is deplorable, this may be a strategy to see how you react under pressure. It may be that you may have to handle customer complaints and the interviewers would like to see how you conduct yourself.

A lady who was being interviewed for a job in an airline in England was asked by one of the interviewers where she was from. When she said Calcutta (as it was known then), the interviewer retorted….“Oh! That’s a dirty, horrible place." Even though she wanted to retort she did not (fortunately). The purpose of the interviewer was to see how she would handle difficult passengers.

In the service industry especially for positions in the hospitality industry or in airlines - they have psychiatrists on the panel. Some of them are obnoxious. The purpose is to ascertain how you would react under pressure and how well you handle difficult customers. The point to remember is not to lose your cool.

The ability to handle difficult situations and rude people is becoming more and more necessary today. The average customer is no longer prepared to accept less than good service or products and is happy to declare so to the world. If you want to be in the service industry - or any other industry for that matter - you need to know how to handle rude people. Even if you are irritated, you should not show it. You should be diplomatic and tactful.

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