The Worst Job Interview I Ever Had Taught Me A Lot

Bad experiences can be good

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I don’t like going to interviews. Does anyone? They are uncomfortable necessary ordeals. I don’t think interviews are a great way to hire people. I don’t think it is a true test of someone's abilities. And yet the only way to get the job is to go for the interview. So they must be done.

I once had a bad interview. Here it is.

The Worst Interview I Ever Had

The first thing the interviewer said to me when walking into the room, I’m sure he said hello but I don’t remember, was “tell me what's wrong with your CV.” He proceeded to slam my CV on the desk in front of me.

I was a little shocked. If my CV was so bad then why did he call me in the first place for an interview? It couldn’t have been that bad? I stammered and squirmed, “ it may be a little bare, ” I tentatively offered.

“It is very terse.”

He said this in a tone dripping with disappointment and criticism.

He proceeded to take me through what was wrong with my CV. It did not have my interests; this was his main complaint. Otherwise, it had all the standards: work experience, education, and references. I can’t remember what else was wrong but I do remember there was a lot more than just my lack of an interest section.

Throughout the whole interview, his tone was attacking and critical. He barely let me talk. All he did was tell me what was wrong with me. About halfway through the interview, he told me, “you are too quiet and very reserved.” I did not say so at the time but I could hardly get a word in edgeways through all the criticism. I felt like I was back at University in a lecture hall.

He also mentioned that he had looked me up on Facebook and discovered we had a common acquaintance. He seemed shocked that I had not looked him up on Facebook. “How do you know…,” he asked me accusingly. I told him and then asked how he knew the acquaintance in an attempt at friendly conversation. He merely smirked and refused to answer. I don’t know why but perhaps to make me feel uncomfortable. He had no trouble doing that already.

I left the interview feeling like I had been attacked somehow. I hated every minute of it. It felt like a one hour dressing down by Simon Cowl and not a professional job interview.

My first thought on leaving his office, “ I never want to work for him.” I did not expect to hear back form him.

The next day he called me to my shock and horror and offered me the job.

What the hell?!

He was rude and unpleasant during the entire interview and his interest in me extended only to criticizing me. Why on earth would he offer me the job? I needed the job but not that desperately. I politely declined and said I had another offer elsewhere, to which he took great offense. I think I dodged a bullet. If the interview was bad then working for him would have been horrendous.

At least it taught me a thing or two about job interviews.

The Interview Works Both Ways

When you go for a job interview you are also interviewing the workplace. You have to want to work there too. If you walk into an interview and the Director of the company is horrible and you get a bad vibe then you know its not for you. And if they offer you a job you can decline. If they don’t offer you the job then you can breathe a sigh of relief.

The person interviewing the candidate must not forget to make the workplace attractive to prospective employees. If you are horrible to new employees then attracting them will be harder. If you want to attract the best the brightest then being shit to them in the interview will not help your cause.

Your CV Is Important But Not That Important

He criticized my CV a lot and looking back, he was right. I am glad he gave me some feedback on my CV but I wish he had done it more tactfully. Like, “your CV is a little bare, what are your interests? Perhaps think of including more information on your CV next time.” I should have added a bit more colour to my CV and since then have amended my CV.

My CV was clearly enough for him to interview me and clearly enough for him to offer me the job. So is your CV that important? I went to a good university and I had good work experience. I think those are the most important things when it comes to your CV. The rest of it is a little bit of colour and excitement. Does it really matter what your interests are and should your employer be concerned with that? Ok, you might be a boring person but if you are a hard worker should your employer care what you do on the weekends.

I don’t think your interests are that important and only to the extent that they show a part of your personality.

Personality is more important than your CV. Will you fit in with the company? Will the company like you? If the company is young and active they might like that you enjoy running and climbing mountains. Your interests are important but only if they fit in with the company.

After going for countless job interviews and facing rejections, I have realized that your CV is important but if you don’t fit in with the Company it does not matter how fancy your CV is.

A Good Interviewer Will Make The Interviewee Comfortable

The best way to determine whether someone fits in with your company is to try and get to know them a little before you hire them. This is hard to do in 45 minutes or 1-hour that's why I think interviews are not the best way to hire. They are the most popular.

A good interviewer will make the person they are interviewing comfortable. They will not ask them tricky questions. They will put you at the ease and even throw in a joke or two. They will smile and laugh and use relaxing body language. They will ask questions that are not too open-ended like, “tell me about yourself?”. Those sorts of questions can lead to a lot of waffling and stammering as you try and work out what parts of yourself you should expose.

I think the best interviews are the ones that are a friendly chat. A casual conversation about yourself and the company. They should not be too formal.

You will not get the best from the person sitting in front of you if you are unkind and rude. Or if you try and see whether they crack under the pressure. Being in an interview and being under pressure at work are two different things and attempting to recreate a work scenario will not produce the same results.

In the end…

Interviews can be horrible. I have no doubt everyone has an interview horror story: where they fumbled and couldn’t answer the question. Or where someone made them feel small and insignificant. Interviews are stressful. If you want the job you will feel nervous. I enjoyed the interviews that were friendly chats. Those are best where you walk away feeling like you may have made a friend.

Interviews should be friendly. You have to work with these people if you get the job, shouldn’t you also get along with them?

I am a Lawyer, Writer, Reader and Traveller. From Johannesburg, South Africa. I am writing to find my voice. Fortune favours the brave.

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