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What Just Happened? 4 Strange Job Interviews Explained

Written by Peter Jones

Just had an interview that didn’t feel how you thought an interview should feel? Are you left feeling like you’re trying to decode mixed messages? Or just so weirded out you’re not even sure what transpired?

Sometimes the interview process isn’t as structured as common sense or past experience might lead us to believe. Some companies, quite frankly, don’t have their act together. Or are just looking for something a little less traditional. Here are four strange job interviews and their scenarios that may help unravel your confusion.

The Fire Alarm

Whoever heard of an interview as a call for help? But sometimes companies are in such trouble, or such a state of flux, that they’re not even sure exactly what they need the most, or how best to organize their priorities. If you find yourself in an interview like this and notice that you’re getting less clear on the responsibilities of the role you’re applying for, rather than more clear, you might be in this disaster territory.

Try and figure out exactly what they seem to need, then whether or not you fill that need, then whether or not this situation is a good fit for you. If you feel up for intervening and saving the day, go forward! If not, politely bow out of the process if it stops feeling workable to you. Particularly if this isn’t your only nibble.

The Automaton

Your interviewer is so professional and so clinical, that you’re not entirely sure they’re not a robot. You start to wonder whether you have a chance. Relax. You do. They wouldn’t have called you in unless you were qualified for the position. Realize that you’ll probably not have a buddy-buddy relationship with this particular supervisor. Are you a good self-starter? Comfortable not receiving a lot of encouragement? Then proceed without concern.

The Saboteur

Your interviewer seems to be trying to throw everything they can at you to get you to see all the negatives of the organization. Is this some sort of test? Are they trying to get you to rise to the occasion and criticize the company? Or are they trying to make sure you’re not faint of heart and can take the impending heat? If you sense the interviewer is trying to see if you can weather what they’ve obviously had to weather, then keep that smile on your face and go for it.

The “Not-Erview”

You’ve been called in to interview, but it’s becoming clear this is not a full-time position. Before your heart sinks, consider whether taking on a project-based or short-term position would make sense for you in this stage of your career. Maybe it wouldn’t, but maybe that’s just the right balance for where you are right now. Either way, an interview situation is an interview situation. And great practice for the next time around!

About the author

Peter Jones