This year, I am determined to get a new job. I have set myself a target of finding suitable employment by Easter, which seemed realistic and do-able, until this week. I went for my first job interview in a number of years. Over the last ten years, I’ve only been for two, including the one this week but in the course of my working life there have been plenty, both good and bad. While this week’s interview was by no means a disaster, it did inspire me to share some of my horrendous interviews so you can learn from my experience, and hopefully laugh at yourself the way I can now laugh at some of these.
Don’t stare at the interviewer’s distinguishing facial features
My first ever job interview was at the local Gala Bingo in 1998. The man interviewing me had three eyebrows. I kid you not. He had the normal two and then another separate from them right in the middle of his forehead. I spent far too long looking at it and wondering if it was a hairy bindi, some kind of piercing or if he was just unfortunate enough to have been born with three eyebrows. I didn’t do well on the questions and then I got a letter the very next day telling me thanks but no thanks. I don’t blame them, to be honest.
Don’t leave your handbag open
My last long-term job was at a firm of solicitors. At my interview I somehow left my handbag open, dropped it and out popped my feminine hygiene products, in full view of everyone in the very busy reception area. The male junior turned around, looked and then looked away. He probably doesn’t even remember that but I’m still cringing so hard.
Don’t put up with too many personal questions
I used to work at an office that won the prestigious Law Firm Of The Year Award. So you would think it’s a great place to work, right? Wrong! During my interview at that delightful office, I was asked way too many personal questions. Do I smoke? Because he doesn’t employ smokers. Do I live with my parents? I did at that point. Good, he liked that. Do I have any ambitions? Because he doesn’t hire people who aren’t ambitious. Do I have a boyfriend? I did. What does he do for a living? What do my parents do for a living? What do my siblings do for a living? STOP! That should have been a red flag right there and I ignored it. If people do this at your interview, they will continue to do it while you’re working there and unless you like people watching your every damn move, it’s not going to go well. I left four years down the line because when I had a UTI, he started making a note of how many times I visited the toilet and for how long and criticised my mannerisms when I eat, amongst other things. Don’t be afraid to walk out of an interview if this happens.
Don’t get honesty tourettes
While it’s never a good idea to lie during an interview, there is such a thing as too much truth. I have this strange condition which I like to call Honesty Tourettes. Sometimes I say something thinking it’ll be acceptable and only realise when I see the look of horror on someone else’s face that I thought wrong. Like the time that I went to a law firm for an interview and the woman asked me about my hobbies. I proceeded to tell her all about my creative writing and how I used to staple little sheets of paper together with Care Bear stationery when I was 7. I then went on to tell her about a minor car accident that had been my wake up call and I had to start dedicating my life to writing. I might as well have told her my dog sings Bohemian Rhapsody because she looked at me like I was that weird. Nobody else would have this problem because they’d just say they like cake decorating or something like that.
Don’t turn up to someone else’s interview
This sounds like a pretty basic thing but seriously, I think I may have done it. I was at an interview in an estate agency firm back in 2007. There was something amiss from the start but I couldn’t put my finger on it. There were two interviewers, one male and one female and the female initially called me Carol-Ann. I stumbled my way through correcting her (I think I may even have apologised for her mistake?) and then she nodded, checked her notes and started the interview. She didn’t seem to know any of my work history, despite having my CV in front of her and calling me in for a meeting. Half way through, the male interviewer came in and shook my hand.
“Nice to meet you Carol-Ann,” he said.
“It’s Sharon, actually.”
“Sorry! Sharon-Ann,” he said.
“No, it’s just Sharon.”
“Well Carol, this job was actually for a junior position and you look a bit older but for the right person, who knows!”
It was then I started to think there may have been a mistake somewhere down the line and I had been called for someone else’s interview but I just carried on and when they were finished I thanked them for their time and got the hell out of there. I sometimes think about Carol-Ann and wonder if she got the job. And what her first day was like.
Do you have any disastrous job interview stories? Share them below!
My worst red flag was when I asked the guy interviewing me what potential of growth there was, and he just mock laughed and scoffed. Then he checked himself and said they were a small company so there isn’t much and their business model doesn’t look at that. It all went down hill and I told them no myself.
That’s always a bad sign! Sounds like it was a dead end job.
It was very weird. In a way it was very similar to the job I was looking to leave, small start up growing up. Clearly they needed to have a good hard think about themselves. Funnily I kept calls from various other agents who wanted me to go for that company again. They mustn’t have had much luck hiring.