Education Career Services

January 8, 2009

OOOPS, Did This Really Happen? An Interview Blunder

While a college professor and later as a Dean of Academic Affairs, I heard many stories from students about how their career interview was going along well until…yes, that pause and the rest spoils the moment and potential offer.  With this, I would share actual events with my classes in the hopes they would learn what not to do.  Being a company owner, I am privileged to experience blunders first hand…this one comes to mind:


Just before the holiday break I was holding interviews for administrative support.  I typically interview and hire students ready to graduate and this was no exception.  After placing an ad for the position, received the typical 250 responses; filtered those down quickly to a top 10 list.  Definitely liked one of the applicants and felt she was perfect for the job.  Had a great informational interview and successful face-to-face interview; within the next few days she was to come in for a final interview and offer…so far, so good.


She arrived in the appropriate time but seemed a bit distracted.  Two supervisors escorted the applicant behind closed doors to discuss final terms – again, so far, so good.  Five minutes later, a young gentleman (about 23 years old and we will name him Mark) wearing short pants, a torn shirt, slides on his feet, and a cigarette tucked behind his ear raced in the building and began yelling for “Mary.”  Mark strolled all aisles and several minutes later I was able to catch up to investigate.  He kindly used words not gentle to the ears and proceeded to yell for Mary.  I was able to gather something about children and alcohol through the chaos.  Mary popped her head out and yelled back to Mark, “not again.”  Within seconds, both left the office.


The next day Mary called and asked if we could simply forget what happened the day before and start again.  She offered no explanation other than her boyfriend gets wired once in a while and goes off.  Needless to say, Mary did not receive the job offer.


Students beware: not only are you being evaluated, but your situation is also being considered.  If you need a ride to work, make sure the driver remains out of sight and sound.


Your turn: as an employer, how would you react to this situation?  As a job candidate, how would you desensitize the situation?


Interviewing can be stressful and cause many to act in ways not typical to their character.  Becoming aware of mistakes via other applicants true events can be eye-opening.  And if you think this was a tad peculiar, the next applicant who came into my office has it beat…can you guess what happened?


For those wanting to share interview experiences for all to benefit from, be sure and send them to me.  If nothing else, they are great for class discussion.




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