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March 10, 2009


If you thought your interview went poorly, just wait until you read what some of our readers have to say about their interviewing experiences. We don't mean to frighten you, but perhaps this will help you to keep from making the same mistakes!

Lost pants, lost chance
This first scenario definitely qualifies as one of the most horrible interview stories we've ever heard. "Thomas" had just finished graduate school and was interviewing with advertising agencies. "The day of the Interview started out badly," he notes, and it only got worse. Because of a family emergency, he was called upon to baby sit his 5-year-old niece." In order to make the interview, he convinced an ex-girlfriend to watch his niece, "but in the process of being in a hurry, I did not put on the suspenders that went with my suit.(foreboding here)." With five minutes to go, he arrived at the agency, and "ran up to the building, forgetting that I was wearing my prescription sunglasses instead of my regular glasses. Realizing that I could not conduct an interview in sunglasses, so I removed them and went without any vision aid at all (did I mention I am blind without my glasses?)."

As luck would have it, his interviewer was late, so Thomas sat in the lobby, "reading magazines (what I could, being blind and all) and trying to make my nervousness go away." When his interviewer finally came out and introduced himself, "I stood up to shake his hand and my pants (sans suspenders) fell down and lay around my ankles." "So there I was," he laughs, "shaking hands with a partner in advertising firm I wanted to work for in my boxer shorts (thank GOD I don't wear briefs). Being quick witted, I made a joke of it, saying how I would do anything to work for him, including stand in the office in my boxer shorts."

Great save, but of course, the story gets worse: "We went back into his office and he asked me for a copy of my resume. I reached into my binder, and being blind, I pulled out a resume with a cover letter to a competing agency. He took one look at the title and subject of the letter and asked me to leave."

~The non-interview interview
No matter how well prepared you may be for an interview, fate, or Murphy's Law at least, often finds a way to intervene. Traffic jams, car trouble, snagged clothing and forgotten glasses are just a few of the more minor things that can wreak havoc on our mindsets, and of course, make us late. But let's just say you escape Murphy's law - you had some extra hose in your purse, the cop pulled someone else over, and you remembered to print out extra copies of your resume. You arrive on time, and of course, the worst happens.

"I woke up early to drive 30 minutes to a 7:30am interview," says "Emily." "I'd been told that parking had been arranged for me, but I was given the wrong location for the lot and couldn't find it." After leaving her car in a private lot, she still made it on time, only to be kept waiting by her interviewer for 20 minutes. When he finally came to greet her, "he offered me a seat, and dropped the bombshell - "The position was offered to someone internally two days ago, but your resume looked so interesting, I felt that I had to meet you". All that and she still had to pay for the parking.

"Henry M." had an even more frustrating non-interview experience: Early on in his career, after responding to an ad in the paper, he received a telegram inviting him in for an interview. He arrived at the interview to find himself face-to-face with a man "who had been assigned to the same lunch table in high school - though not ever a friend." Says Henry: "I wondered if I would have an advantage. He said he had recognized my name from my resume, he wanted to know if I had recognized his. But his name was different. He admitted he had changed it for professional reasons." After making "quite a long point of telling me how successful he had been professionally." When they finally got down to the job he had applied for, "it turned out that my submitted skill set in no way qualified me. He said there was nothing he could do. Of course he had known this from my resume. I asked him why he had called me for an interview. He admitted he wanted me to see how well he was doing."

The anti-interview
The anti-interview is the opposite of the "getting to know you" scenarios described above. This story, submitted by "Ingrid S." - is high on the list for "Most Horrible." Ingrid was interviewing with a law firm for a marketing director position. After passing the initial interview "with flying colors," she was called back for the second round, which, she was told, would be "with the board of directors and several partners in the firm."

~When she showed up for the interview, she was escorted to a large boardroom where she found 13 people seated around the table. Each person had a manila file, which she assumed contained her resume and interview evaluation. Naturally, she took the last available seat and introduced herself. Then a man entered the room and announced "that we were ALL candidates for the job and that he would observe our negotiating skills and people skills to see who gets the job. I was seated with my competitors!"

As Ingrid recounts, "six of the 13 initially stormed out. Two stayed temporarily and then shortly left in disgust. I was left with five people and the interviewer. We were like malnourished lions that had been thrown one piece of meat. There was cursing and shouting and manipulating and votes [were] taken on who was the best skilled, most worthy candidate. The interviewer remained silent and simply took notes." "I am not joking," she comments, comparing the scenario to "Henry Fonda's scene in 12 Angry Men."

"In the end," she says, "I was the hungriest lion and I got the meat. The firm called me the next day and said my aggressiveness and [manipulative] skills were excellent and that I would make a perfect fit into the character of the company." After a week, however, she called the firm, "and told them to shove it. By this point, they had lost all hopes of hiring the other 12 Angry Men and they had to start the advertising process all over again. That was last year. I understand the position has never been filled." Wonder if they've revised their interviewing process yet.


Filed Under: Interviewing

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