What’s the worst interview experience you’ve ever had?
I was having a conversation with a friend at work about the worst experiences we had during job interviews.
I’ve had hundreds of interviews with dozens of organizations in three different states over the past fifteen years, so I’ve experienced everything across the spectrum. I’ve had a group of people interview me at once and I’ve had four people cycle through while I sat in the same chair for over two hours. I’ve had to take the interviewer through my entire resume and I’ve had interviews were I was not asked a single question. I’ve gotten some of those weird, critical thinking questions – “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and placed in a blender, how would you get out?” – and I’ve been asked why I’m applying for a job that I clearly didn’t want (I thought it was clear I did want it). I’ve been given a laptop and asked to perform a short project and I’ve had a person bring me in just to tell me how bad of a candidate I was.
I’ve experienced it all. And that’s not even including recruiters who rarely know exactly what they’re doing, telling you to change your resume, and take the first opening they have just to get it off their desk. I once had a recruiter tell me that I’d never get a job beyond the one I had right out of college. I’d love nothing more than to attach my resume to his forehead with a staple gun.
The best interviews, of course, are the ones that are more like a casual conversation rather than a well-dressed interrogation. The worst is when you just know you’re not making a connection with the other person or, even worse, the job is yours if you don’t fuck up and you go in there and fuck up. You know it’s going bad and you want to stop in the middle and say, “Can we start over?” By then, it’s too late.
My absolute worst was in early 2013 when I was hoping to get a job before moving. I drove over two hours, paid over $20 in tolls, and wound up at a shitty little office off a maintenance road where I was given a laptop and 20 minutes to do a project, after which my work was scrutinized with a magnifying glass while I was grilled by a panel of five who were both ruthless and relentless. I didn’t get the job and I’m grateful I didn’t. Another, better one, came along shortly after. As usually happens.
That’s mine. What’s your worst interview experience?
Here’s what I wrote this week:
- My Five Favorite Hip-Hop Documentaries [The Musical Outcast]
Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.