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5 Job Interview Disaster Stories

April 19, 2012

Everyone has work or job interview horror stories to tell.  One can prepare for an interview, but what happens when the Interviewer is the one who’s behaving badly? I recently participated in a mock interview workshop for MBA students from San Jose State University.  During this session, many students shared with me stories about their experiences of recent job interviews that had gone wrong. Here are a few that stood out:

Story #1 -“Eyes Wide Shut”: The hiring manager never looked at me during the interview.  He kept looking down and reading my resume.  There was no eye contact.  He picked my resume apart and drilled me from what I did in my past internships to my class work.  There was neither chemistry nor personal connection established.  At the end, he stood up and just walked out of the room.

Story #2 -“Who Me?”:  I was invited to come in for a job interview and the schedule had the wrong resume attached to it.  So after speaking to five different people, they all called me by the wrong name and they kept referring to someone else’s resume but they still interviewed me.  I felt like I was correcting everyone all day long.  I know it was an administrative error but it was embarrassing and I wanted to start over.

Story #3 – “Anybody Out There?”:  Once I sat in a conference room by myself for 15-20 minutes and nobody came in.  I actually I had to step out and find the staffing coordinator to remind her that I was still here.  She told me to go back in the conference room and wait while she looked for who was next on the interview schedule.  After a few more minutes of waiting, someone finally came in and started to ask me questions.  No explanation and no apology, as if it never happened.

Story #4 – “No Texting While Interviewing”:  During a job interview, the recruiter’s iPhone kept vibrating.  She finally picked it up and began to read the email that just came through.  While I was answering her questions, she began to text.  It seemed like she wasn’t listening or paying attention to a word I said.  She was more concerned about what he was reading than the interview.

Story #5 – “Mr. Chatterbox”:  I had one interviewer who talked the whole 45 minutes.   He was friendly and nice but he talked more than he asked questions.  I just sat there and smiled. When the next interviewer stepped into the conference room, he finally paused and asked me if I had any questions for him.  I don’t remember what I asked but I thought to myself, really!?!

I am sure there are many more stories similar to the ones I just shared.  Disastrous job interviews happen to even the best candidates.  As a rule of thumb, there’s no perfect job interview and one should always expect the unexpected.   Before you panic, relax and focus on what is being asked.  Don’t get off track on things you can’t control.  Practice, Practice and Practice. Preparing yourself against these potential interview disasters, gets you one step closer to landing the job of your dreams. Remember sometimes it really is the little things that make the difference as you remain calm and confident.

Did you have any job interview stories gone wrong?  We’d love to hear them, please share.  Like us and join the conversation.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

Special thanks to Rick Partridge for inviting me to participate at his MBA Mock Interview Workshop.  Rick is a Career Consultant for the Lucas Graduate School of Business and an Adjunct Professor for the Department of Organization & Management at San Jose State University.


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