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I know this sounds strange and it's related to an interview that went bad a long time ago. After the interview I received feedback that I never had before, nothing to do with technical skill but the interview was cut short as the interviewer found I was "rude" based on some mannerisms such as leaning in my seat. I've never had such feedback before, but also noticed during the interview I felt much more anxious and uncomfortable than usual.

The interview took place in a very small room with no windows. I was uncomfortable with how close our chairs were and nothing in between us (like a desk). I also found it very hot and stuffy and despite my best efforts wasn't able to resist yawning. It was just me and the interviewer.

Would it be ok to ask to go to a different room? If yes, how should it be phrased? To be specific, I think some of my behaviors that came across as rude may have been subconscious reasons to the conditions (like leaning my chair away as I was uncomfortable with the seating arrangement).

I was reminded this because I've seen several questions on this site about cutting an interview short if it's decided for certain the candidate isn't a good fit. I was scheduled for back to back interviews with different people, the first one was an HR rep. Later, the recruiter told me, how he had found me rude, and told the second interviewer to keep it short not to waste my time. I find it strange the second interviewed me at all if the decision had been made. Is there something I'm missing here?

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    Not worthy of an answer, but you should also consider what being put in an uncomfortable room tells you about whether or not the company is putting its best foot forward in trying to recruit you. – Blrfl Oct 28 '18 at 12:19
  • @JoeStrazzere I've cleaned up my comments. In the linked question, the OP clarified that they couldn't sleep well due to noise. I think we generally agree that there can be more or less acceptable reasons for yawning, but excessive yawning even with a reasonable justification might grate on an interviewer in a one-on-one situation. The offense of a last minute interview reschedule might be less than the one-on-one yawning if the reason is good enough. – Eric Oct 29 '18 at 21:41
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As the accepted answer in the other question points out, that particular case was a bullet dodged and I wouldn't worry about it too much.

It's absolutely OK to mention that you're uncomfortable in some way, if you think your performance is being impacted. When I interviewed at a large bank in the UK the little glass-walled meeting room they had scheduled for us was a bit too small, and I'm a big guy, so I said is it hot in here or am I just nervous? Not my best bit, but my purpose was to connect with them and break the ice. I expected them to laugh it off but they immediately apologised because they couldn't control the aircon for the space.

I'll go back to your experience, physical distance is culture dependent. The yawning was bad, but you could apologise for that by mentioning the temperature and the effect it has on you.

Going to another room is usually not going to happen because this room is scheduled for a reason. Apologise if you get drowsy, and try to do your best not to let it show.

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    I agree and I think especially true if you have some sort of musculo-skeletal disorder (i.e. lower back issues) or a physical disability. It is absolutely right to expect an interviewing company to make reasonable accommodations if you have a disability, although I would probably let them know ahead of the interview. – Time4Tea Oct 28 '18 at 17:34
  • I think this is the right answer, as long as you don't do it so often that it sounds like you're making excuses. It's one thing to say that you didn't get much sleep, but it doesn't look as good if you also mention the temperature in the room, and your back hurts, you spilled coffee on your only jacket, etc. – David K Oct 29 '18 at 12:28
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Would it be ok to ask to go to a different room?

You can always ask.

But be aware that it may be a strike against you. Interviewers may unconsciously think you are high-maintenance or odd.

I've worked at several companies where it would have been extremely difficult to find an alternate interview room on short notice. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered too much, but I have to be honest that I would find it a bit annoying.

Ask if you feel that you must. Otherwise, it's usually best to carry on even in sub-optimal conditions.

3

Interviews are two way streets. You are supposed to be interviewing the company while they are interviewing you.

If a room is painfully cold, feel free to politely ask if you can get a cup of coffee or warm up. If a chair is painfully hard, say "What's the deal with these chairs" and offer to continue the interview on your feet or in a company break room or their office.

If they cannot make accommodations, accept that they can't; but, then it will be clear that your discomfort is due to the reason you complained. How they indicated they can or cannot make accommodations will tell you a lot about if you might want to work there (which is different than if you might want to be paid by them :) )

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Is it ok to tell the interviewer you're physically uncomfortable?

No , like any meeting you prepare for a high stress environment, this can be physical or mental. One measure of a professional is being able to function under less than perfect conditions.

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    If I could upvote this more than once I would. +++ for One measure of a professional is being able to function under less than perfect conditions. – JustSaying Oct 28 '18 at 19:36
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    @TheWhiteWolf I agree that being professional is about being able to function in non-ideal conditions; but, reporting non-ideal conditions is part of professionalism too. If the item is reported, and cannot be accommodated, then you can show them how well you work despite the conditions. – Edwin Buck Oct 28 '18 at 20:19
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    This is a job interview no a selection for the SAS – Neuromancer Oct 28 '18 at 21:25
  • Of course, there's the flip side: if this company is interested in putting you in a high-stress environment just to see how you'd react, is this the kind of company where you'd be comfortable working? Based on OP's question, I'd say probably not. – Mike Harris Oct 29 '18 at 1:12
  • There are many types of jobs. Maybe there are some that require being able to deal with sitting in a stuffy room without passing out. This sort of idiocy has no place in the selection process for a professional job that requires that you be able to think. Any company where they deliberately make you uncomfortable in the interview is not worth working for. – user1683793 Oct 29 '18 at 3:41
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I always assume that the burden is on the company to find the best candidate, and on the candidate to find the best job for them. If it starts out 'uncomfortable' don't assume that it will ever get better. It may, but you have to accept that if you are prepared, what is meant to be, will.

0

You should let the interviewer know you are having some existing "pain/sprain" in the uncomfortable part and that they should excuse you if you move a bit in the meeting to adjust your seating. Similarly you could say you're having some fever and if the

At this point they would probably offer to increase your comfort by shifting to a different room (if available). If not they'll understand why you moved a bit during the meeting.

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HR is BS, mostly. If they really don't like you, I will have trouble bringing you in but since I am the one that will have to work with you, it is my decision, not some dude from corporate.

As for saying you are uncomfortable, that is tough. I would say, “I’m sorry, it seems rather stuffy and I am having trouble concentrating. Would it be possible to leave the door open or move to another room?” If the company is worth working for, they will make some accomodation.

Once, I had a job locked up. The technical people loved me and I blew it when I interviewed with the big boss because low blood sugar made me goofy. Years later, I was in an interview with HR and I felt the low blood sugar symptoms start and I said “I’m sorry, you’ll have to excuse me for a minute, I have a medical condition that I have to attend to.” Fortunately, I was able to go to the coffee machine and down some sugar water and get through the interview.

When you say, “keep it short not to waste my time” No, you are the one being interviewed, your time is free. They care about their time, that is what costs money.

  • I should comment that while HR does the paperwork to bring you in and may have a veto on the hire, the people that do the work make the actual Yes or No decision. I would not worry too much about some corporate dude with an inflated idea of his own importance. Once you start, HR blends in with the background. On my last job, I spoke to HR three times in 12 years. In my current job, I have yet to speak to anybody from HR, ever. – user1683793 Oct 29 '18 at 3:50
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Someone commented "The yawning was bad, but you could apologise for that by mentioning the temperature and the effect it has on you."

I would argue against doing this. If the company office has a set temperature, this shows that it will have an effect on you possibly every day and will most likely affect your work abilities and professionalism.

Instead, you could tell a white lie.. "I apologize for yawning, I had a late night last night because my neighbor had a family medical emergency and I offered to help take care of their children so they could go to the hospital." and then if you get the job, hope that you don't keep yawning.

Yes, lying is bad.. but this show (to them) that you have compassion, and are professional enough to know that yawning in the work place and an interview is not really acceptable.

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    -1 Your cognitive load is high during a high-stress situation and lying puts extra stress on that, not to mention it's a terrible habit. You can get accustomed to temperature. Are you going to lie about your neighbor's kids every time? What if it spins out of your control and you get found out? Terrible advice – rath Oct 28 '18 at 11:25
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    So instead you are saying that the interviewee should have replied "I apologize, high stress situations and situations that make me use my brain tire me out so much that I appear sleepy and will yawn, so please hire me but don't put in any of those kind of situations" and yes. you do what you can to get the job, including lie or embellishing the truth. You need to be able to sell your personality and skills, and a white lie is better than a horrible truth. Once you start yawning in a job interview, you are basically done. You will need a damn good reasoning for it, and your truth isn't good – cire Oct 28 '18 at 11:31

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