Handling A Hostile Interview: Tips And Tricks

If you are in the interview process, you should be prepared for a hostile interview. The key to handling the situation is preparation.

The following are some tips that can help you prepare for a hostile interview:

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses
  • Practice how to handle difficult questions
  • Anticipate questions that might come up
  • Prepare your responses
  • Be confident and calm

Navigating a Hostile Interview

A hostile interviewer has an agenda. The pretext for the interview might already give that away, but always keep that in mind. Their goal is not to make you look good in the eyes of the audience. To be in a situation like that, you need to understand that you can’t take the situation personally.

Removing your ego from this will help you navigate the rough process successfully. Remember, if you stay calm and keep your head in the game, there’s no way they can win a hostile interview.

There are some cases where you might not know the circumstances until you are interrogated. During times like that, all you can do is try to remain calm. During the ordeal, maintaining a cool demeanor is not as straightforward as a normal conversation.

You are being grilled one way or another. The only way to keep calm is to keep an open mind. Look for openings to sway the discussion. Use details of your answer to switch the conversation into something more comfortable, but don’t use topics that are completely unrelated. This makes the transition noticeable.

smart phone and camera on desk handling a hostile interview

Identifying Manipulative Tactics and Preparing for a Challenging Interview

A hostile interviewer will look for ways to twist your words. The most surprising thing about a hostile interview is that they don’t need to be loud or openly challenging.

The best interviewers mask this with a soft tone, open body language, and a methodical process. This makes it harder for some to spot. It’s important to prepare before an interview by looking at why you are giving an interview in the first place.

Are you a representative for a company or are you there on your own behalf? Is this a routine PR event or are you releasing new information? Are there any controversies that can arise from your point of view?

man reading a book on positive ways to think Handling a hostile interview

Staying Collected, Precise, and Cordial During a Hostile Interview

If you are speaking about the environment, then there could be negative feedback about your input on the topic. Look for openings to be as blunt as possible. Don’t try to back down, but maintain a cordial presence.

The only thing that can make things worse is looking like you are trying too hard to defend yourself or that you can’t defend yourself. Be clear and specific with the information you give. Don’t add details that aren’t necessary to fill air time as that looks like you are rambling.

In the end, the audience will be able to identify an unfair interview. Once you do your best and try to remain collected throughout the ordeal, you should be fine. Handling a hostile interview successfully isn’t like winning an argument. It’s about neutralizing the situation.


What is a hostile interview?

A hostile interview is a situation where the interviewer has an agenda and aims to put the interviewee in a negative light, instead of fostering a fair and open discussion.

How can I prepare for a hostile interview?

You can prepare for a hostile interview by knowing your strengths and weaknesses, practicing how to handle difficult questions, anticipating potential questions, and preparing your responses.

How should I handle difficult questions during a hostile interview?

Maintain a calm and confident demeanor, try to remain composed, and look for opportunities to steer the conversation towards more comfortable topics. Be clear, specific, and cordial in your responses.

What should I avoid doing during a hostile interview?

Avoid getting defensive, rambling, or appearing overly nervous. Focus on remaining collected, precise, and cordial throughout the interview.

How can I successfully handle a hostile interview?

Successfully handling a hostile interview is about neutralizing the situation rather than winning an argument. Stay composed, maintain a confident presence, and keep your responses clear and specific.