Earlier this week, I caught up with an old friend over some Sauvignon blanc at a cosy, inner city pub. After a while our conversation turned to careers and then job interviews. Unfortunately, my friend Natalie had attended a horrible interview the week before. I’ve sought her permission to share with you her story.
Natalie is very organised and as usual she didn’t leave anything to chance with her interview preparation. In fact she set up a schedule of what she needed to do to prepare for her job interview in a city high-rise last Wednesday. On interview day she was well groomed and wearing her smartest suit. She even packed a small umbrella even though the forecast was for sunny with light winds and not a chance of rain.
When the interviewer greeted Natalie in the wood paneled foyer on Wednesday morning, she wasn’t as warm as Natalie expected her to be. In fact the interviewer was a little cool in her demeanor. My friend had met the interviewer before so this behaviour was a surprise.
Unfortunately, the interviewer got down to business by asking Natalie silly questions that were completely irrelevant to the role. She was very kind in advising Natalie that she’d had many people apply for the role and that she could take her pick as to who she selected. Poor Natalie began to think that the interviewer had a already made her decision and was perplexed – why was she was being interviewed if there was no intention of hiring?
The interviewer took her kindness to the next level and also mentioned that others had more experience than Natalie even though she had double the experience that was a stated requirement on the role position description.
Rhetorical questions were asked quite a lot in that interview.
Even though she had thoroughly prepared for the interview, it was a horrible experience. Natalie felt disrespected. She left feeling upset and as if she was somehow to blame. It wasn’t her fault.
So what are you to do when an interview goes wrong?
Sometimes interview outcomes are out of your control. You prepare for days, research, practice your pitch and are ready to articulate what you’ve achieved and why you should be hired.
But then you meet you meet the cow that interviews you. Everything is twisted, nothing flows and you are left feeling disappointed, pissed off and angry.
How do you deal with this?
What you can learn? Natalie learnt that referrals don’t guarantee respect. Most of Natalie’s interview experiences have been positive. Through this experience she learnt that just because two friends recommend and rave about someone, it doesn’t guarantee respect during interview or that the interviewer will be a great manager.
Would you get along with this person as a boss? If you witness disrespectful behaviour in an interview you don’t want to work for that person. In Natalie’s situation, the company she was considering working for made a pretty large error prior to interview and tried to pretend that they’d followed process. Natalie questioned this respectfully. Rather than apologising for the error the company supported Natalie being interviewed by a silly interviewer that had no intention of hiring her.
Can you see this experience as a gift? It’s interesting how people put on their best behaviour and how quickly it can change. When this happens it’s a gift for you! You have dodged making a bad decision! Isn’t it great that you were able to witness this bad behaviour and be saved working for someone that wouldn’t be the right leader for you.
Be grateful for the insight you received in an interview that went wrong. Sure it didn’t feel nice but do you want to work for people that don’t respect you and lack integrity? I certainly don’t.
What bad interview experiences have you had? Please share in the comments below.