A recent post on LinkedIn reminded me that I’ve had my share of memorable (as in not so great) interview experiences. Often, the emphasis on demonstrating professionalism, competence, and suitability is perceived as the burden of the interviewee. However, an interview is pretty much like a date. Both sides have to see something they like in order to progress to the next level. You have to show me that I should want to work for you. Romance me a little. Conduct the interview in a clean environment. Wear your shoes. Read my CV beforehand. Try to get to know me. I didn’t get dressed up for nothing.
Once upon a time an international company with a hugely recognizable name (just Googled them and the word “premier” appears in their description) invited me for an interview. I arrived at their premises about fifteen minutes early expecting to be ushered into a waiting area of some kind. I parked my car and thought it odd that the compound was strangely quiet. I approached the solitary figure hanging around the car park and asked if he could direct me to the name and department that I’d been given. He was very helpful as he was able to inform me that the entire department had gone to lunch. Together. (Insert huge red flag here). There I was, waiting outside a locked office, in the Caribbean heat, all dressed up in a suit. The giggling bunch returned to work after my scheduled interview time. I was in no mood for apologies but I smiled and got on with it. A couple days later, after lunch, said company called to gleefully inform me that I’d been selected for a second interview that evening. What second interview??? At no point during the first interview did they indicate that there would be a second interview and they wanted me to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on why I’d be the candidate for the job. Nothing about these people screamed “professional” to me. I declined their second interview.
Then there was the establishment that prides itself on being the best in its industry (the word “premier” appears in their description too). The self-proclaimed right-hand man interviewed me. We discussed the post at length and I was advised that my name and information would be put forward for a second interview (at least they got this part right) with the director. I can’t say that I was impressed with the depth of questioning at the second interview. I knew that I would not have been disappointed if I wasn’t ultimately chosen for the job because I got the distinct impression that “premier” was merely a word that they threw around. What ticked me off was the fact that not so much as a one-line email was sent notifying me that I wasn’t selected. If somebody takes the time to turn up to TWO interviews it is basic manners to communicate with them afterward. You don’t need a PhD in human resources to know this.
And then there was the interview with the human resources manager whose office smelt like rum. Not rum that he’d probably drunk at lunch time or the night before but the kind of odour that indicated he’d been drinking in those very clothes since 1973. My nostrils were assaulted that day. While he talked, I gagged and simultaneously looked around his office for the hidden stash of bottles. This could not have been attributed to a flask a day. He had to have been drinking alcohol by the crate load. On the bright side, he was quite a pleasant drunk.
Although these interviews weren’t exactly funny at the time, they have added to the tapestry that is my life experience and I can laugh at them now. Do you have any hilarious-in-hindsight interview stories?