Focus. Focus. Focus. Politicians have talking points–so should you, said Ellerbee. Identify the five professional qualities you want to highlight in your interview. If someone comments on your hair or your clothes, find a way to connect it to those points.
“Answer the question but then get back to what you were talking about,” he said. “If they say, ‘I love your outfit,’ you can say ‘Thank you very much. You know, I went to school for interior design and I guess it translates to my style.’”
Make it an asset. That way, you’re reminding them why you’re there: to get the job.
Make ‘em laugh. When the interviewer asked Ellerbee if he was gay, he didn’t get testy. He made a joke out of it. That disarmed the situation and playfully pointed out that it wasn’t appropriate for the interview.
“Is this a gay job?” he remembers asking. “We both burst out laughing. I got the job.”
Consider the job offer carefully. Ellerbee didn’t take the job. But he decided that after the interview.
“Ask yourself, ‘If the company is this uncouth now, will it get better?’” he said. “‘Is this going to benefit me? Do I need to give it a chance?’ You can only answer that after the interview is over.”
Finishing the interview and handling it professionally could have positive results, Palmer says. Just like storming out could burn bridges, handling it gracefully could build them.
“In my own personal experience, I have interviewed at one place and they determined it wasn’t a good fit for me, but they referred me to a different company,” she says. “That’s happened at least twice in my career.”