Interviews – they’re a necessary hazard for any jobseeker. These stressful situations make their presence felt with a sudden phonecall from human resources or an email appearing without warning in your inbox…”Your interview will take place at some random remote location at stupid o’clock with Mrs. Ivana Maykew-Cry “. When the dreaded day comes, you are frantically rummaging through a week-old pile of laundry for that one salvageable white shirt, or tearing out half your wardrobe for that fancy ‘just-for-interviews-only’ blouse. Yes, that one, the frilly light blue number. You make sure your hair is combed or permed at just the right angle. Everything is good to go. Better get going.
Once you arrive (hopefully early) at reception to sign off against your appointment, you are practically a bundle of nerves. Is that a piece of fluff/corn flake/bacon sandwich in your hair? Is there a ladder in your tights? Any Grand Canyon sized creases on the back of your shirt? It’s panic mode overload!!. You are sweating profusely. The HR manager beckons towards the cold and barren interview room. Wearing your very best rictus grin, you immediately shake hands with everyone in the room, even the cleaner. Your heart is close to ripping itself out of your chest. Jolts of nervousness run through your spine, like those greyhounds at Walthamstow Dog Track. Soon the volley of career questions heading your way will keep you firmly rooted to your seat, your brain close to exploding. Salary expectations are the last thing on your mind.
While interviews can always bring out the gibbering wreck in even the toughest of career-hunters, some interviewees (and interviewers) monumentally screw up. Really badly. HalfEatenMind brings you a selection of interview-related mishaps and old-fashioned corporate stupidity, courtesy of Rhodri Marsden, a collector of anecdotes from Twitter….enjoy!…and, look at it this way, you may not get the job, but at least you’ll probably leave with your dignity intact 🙂
@MissInformed11: While conducting an interview the candidate asked me “Do you get many death threats?”. It was an inbound call company. Selling stationary.
@KennoUK: Absent-mindedly twirling my pen around. I got the ends mixed up and drew a fake beard on myself while asking questions.
@paddyjohnston: A friend of mine told a customer in a mock selling exercise at a shoe shop interview that the trainers he had could repel magpies.
@DJBogtrotter: I watched a drunk salesman dodge lasers like a fat Tom Cruise while failing to demonstrate a burglar alarm I was supposed to sell.
@Gary_Bainbridge: My interviewer told me he had just given the job to the previous candidate. We ended up talking about cancer for 30 minutes.
@ledavies: I conducted one where the candidate asked for two weeks off in December (it was May) so he could free his wife who had been kidnapped.
@nitsohara: I interviewed one woman for an admin job who had a picture of herself on her CV. In a leopard-print bra top drinking a bottle of Bud.
@AllDesignPrint: I was asked “If you could be an animal, what would it be?” I replied, “What sort of a stupid question is that?”. Didn’t get the job.
@redskyatnight: I once confidently told an interviewer that I’d read a book he’d mentioned. He pointed out it hadn’t been published yet. Or even written.
@Greg_Callus: Given job at an interview by a bar manager. Didn’t hear. Went to see them. He’d been fired for pretending to be the manager. He’d hired three people. No jobs.
@achknalligewelt: Knocked over the pen tidy on the desk. Took the interviewer a whole minute to put them back. Then I knocked it over again. Got the job.
@RupertJTaylor: I was once asked to sing my favourite song at an interview for a job selling utilities. I sang it (badly) then walked out.
@dignut: Mistakenly turned up a month early for an interview at M&S. They gave me the job.
@manytypesoftea: In my worst interview ever, the person interviewing me got the job.
@startimeash: I interviewed a guy for a programming job. He failed all the test questions, then gave me a list of ones that “I should have asked”.
@death_stairs: I realised I didn’t want the job. I was asked what my strengths were. I said, “Hiding, and deflecting gamma rays”.
@jhedelstein: The interviewer wrote my name at top of a notebook page. Took no notes. Halfway through, crossed my name out.
@achknalligewelt: Phone interview with RBS. In the middle of a complex maths question, my cat clawed my leg. I yelled “You f***ing c*nt” at him. The line went dead.
@Bradders_A: I asked the candidate: “When did you last use your initiative?”. Answer: “Once I cleaned up some creosote. I was proud.”
@DaleyAFC: The interview went so well I got cocky, and when the interviewer gave me my suit jacket from the rack I turned so he could put it on me. No job.
@DivertingLife: Was asked during an interview what I had been doing that day. I told the truth: shearing sheep. I’ve never seen anyone laugh so hard.
@rococopacetic: During an interview with my brother, a guy spat repeatedly into his own briefcase until my brother screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
@benptooey: An interview with Microsoft. I was asked if I’d change anything about them. Said, “I’d get rid of Internet Explorer”. Didn’t get the job.
@dansumption: A friend once had an acid flashback (10yrs after last dropping LSD). The interviewer sneezed. My friend saw horses fly out of his nose.
@AusMossy: I was interviewing when an applicant gave a poor answer. Another panel member said: “This is an interview, you’re supposed to lie to us.”
@dancingbear76: My friend was asked “What is your favourite fish?” He replied “To eat or to look at?” This threw them. Outcome: no job.
@FoolEnglish: A friend was interviewed for medical school. The panel asked how he handled stress. “I drink heavily. Doesn’t everyone?” Got in.
@ManRepublik: I had a female interviewer who leant forward to shake my hand. I misread the situation and kissed her on the cheek. Didn’t get the job.
@InDarkCorners: I interviewed a candidate who kept stopping and saying “Can you hear voices?” After 15 minutes he realised his iPod was on.
Excerpts taken from an article published in Shortlist magazine (Issue 227, 31 May 2012), written by Rhodri Marsden.