Bad Interviews: We’ve All Had One

28 Apr

As I was gearing up for a phone interview this morning,  I took a moment to reflect on my past interview mistakes.  When you’re applying to a competitive job, employers can afford to be choosy, and one wrong question or a couple too many “ummms” can rule you out as a prime candidate.  These missteps have definitely cost me at least a second round interview, if not a job offer.

  • I have the weirdest nervous twitch. I like to rip things into a million tiny symmetrical squares, and then play with the confetti I just made, like I’m in my own little birthday party.  I have enough sense to know that I can’t tear up my interviewer’s office, but this twitch morphs into me playing incessantly with my pen. I’ll doodle, I’ll click, I may tap the manic rhythm of Everytime We Touch.  All these things help hone my focus, but I’m fairly certain it makes my interviewer want to commit a gruesome, bloody homicide.
  • I can’t shut up.  I’ll get asked a question, and my mouth goes like a runaway train.  My brain, through its anxious side commentary, tries to temper my response, but it rarely works.  “You’ve said that already.  You can probably shut up now, I think you answered the question, although I don’t think you know what it is anymore.  Oh look, rhinos just went extinct.  I think that’s a sign you can stop.”
  • I’ve never understood that you’re supposed to ask questions too. It shows that you’re genuinely interested in the job as a career choice, and not as something to do for eight hours a day.  My interviewers were constantly asking me if I had any questions, and I thought it was impressive that I understood everything they just explained the first time.  One time though, I was interviewed by an alum, and she kept pressing it, probably because she had my best interests at heart.  So I asked about the one thing I really I wanted answered: salary and benefits.  During the first screening interview.  Facepalm.

I have a couple more, but with every blog post, I seem to lose a couple shreds of precious dignity.  Please, let me be a cautionary tale, so I at least know I’m not sharing my failures for nothing.

I do take solace in the fact that at one time or another, everyone has committed some kind of interview faux-pax.  For example, I’m sure someone has gone to an interview wearing only underpants.  Find yours at The Oatmeal’s 10 Types of Crappy Interviewees.

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