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Have You Ever Had A Crazy Job Interview?

By Mrs. Julien | Comment Diversions | March 23, 2013 | Comments ()


mad men.png

koko temur dropped this gem on last week's Eloquent Eloquence:

God damn, make a comment diversion about job interviews so i could tell the story of getting a call from mossads' human recources department!

I hear and obey!

I can't top Moussad's HR department, and I can't talk about my current HR situation out of a highly-refined sense of self preservation, but let me see if I can think of something...

If you interview with a collection agency, part of the process includes mock collection calls. I was good at the reinactments, I was hired. I stayed for two loathsome summers during university.

During an interview for a summer job at an engineering firm, I asked them if they understood how Arts majors (which I was at the time) felt about engineers. Talk about transparent self-sabotage! I didn't get a call back on that one.

That's all I've got for job interviews. I generally interview well; mercifully, it's been a while.

I was told the following while conducting a job interview, "I don't want to be hated because of my personality." Only in my head did I reply, "What would you like to be hated for?" I deserve a cookie.


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • misslucyjane

    One of my first interviews after college graduation. I just wanted something to pay for me to save for graduate school, so I apply as a receptionist at a ... insurance firm, maybe? I don't remember. Anyway, it was something I'd done during the summers all through college. The interviewer ended up lecturing me on how to do an interview and we never quite got around to me actually, you know, being interviewed.

    This last year I was looking for a new QA job and got an interview at a place that really interested me: the company does good things in the medical field and the position was ideal to my background. There was the one-on-one interview, then they asked me to stay to meet the development team. So it was me, the QA lead, and six or so programmers who were more interested in what TV shows I watch than in my experience.

    I didn't get the job, but in the email telling me so the HR rep said, "If the person we hired doesn't work out, can we contact you?" Uh... sure, but if you liked me so much, why didn't you just hire me in the first place?

    I might be a bit bitter. Unemployment sucks.

  • Sydnea

    well it wasn't crazy... but when I interviewed at Blockbuster a few years ago (yes they still had them in 2010 and yes it was awesome bc I got to watch a zillion movies for free and yes I no longer work there because they closed my store in 2012 and yes... I have netflix) but when I first met the manager I could see he was a nerd so I made sure to dress kinda hot- and it worked, he seemed a bit flustered. He basically just asked if I played video games and what games I played then asked what kind of movies/ shows I watched and being a Joss Whedon freako fangirl I brought up Buffy/Angel/Firefly and we literally just sat there and talked Buffy for like 30 min. And I was hired immediately. I think he remained intimidated by me the whole time I worked there (seeing as I don't bullshit and am snarky as hell and the lesbian ASM and I did our own thing bc women are better leaders) but he was kind of a deuche. Not all Buffy fans are cool...

  • ZombieNurse

    I once had an interview to work in the art department of a DNA sequencing laboratory. (I'm not sure what a DNA sequencing lab needed with an art department, but that's not the point.)

    I was taken to the HR office and I was fine, sitting there answering questions, and for no reason I can think of, I started to freak the fuck out. It wasn't like I had an uneasy feeling or maybe even felt a little uncomfortable, I went from being 100% comfortable to genuinely feeling like I needed to run as fast as possible and get out of that building. Of course, I couldn't do that, because...well, that would have been crazy. I thought that maybe I was just nervous about the interview, so I managed to get a hold of myself. I took a couple of deep breaths and managed to relax, but a second later, I was literally vibrating in fear. I know that sounds insane, because the man I was talking to seemed perfectly nice, but something about being in that building terrified me. I was sitting at this table, talking to this guy with what I hope was a pleasant (and totally normal) look on my face, but every nerve in my body was telling me to get out of there. Of course I couldn't do that, so I -barely- made it through that part of the interview and on to the next guy.

    I know how this sounds, and I'm not exaggerating, I promise. It wasn't a panic attack. I've had panic attacks and this wasn't one of them. It wasn't even being nervous, I know nervous. It was pure fear, and fear for no reason I could understand.

    The next guy was also very nice, seemed very cool, and I had managed to calm down enough to begin my interview and that wave of fear came again. By that point I started visibly shaking. I couldn't quit. My skin was crawling and I just needed to get out of there. I managed to get through that part of the interview without screaming, but I know he noticed whatever was going on with me.

    By the time I was in the last interview, I had calmed down enough not to visibly shake, but by then I didn't care if I ever worked again, I just needed to get out of that building. I know that the last interview didn't go well, and I didn't care. I got the hell out as soon as I was done, and the second I drove off of the property I burst into tears. I called my mother and told her I couldn't go back there, it was wrong there and I couldn't go back. I never got called back, but I wouldn't have taken the job if they had offered it to me anyways.

    I'm not trying to sound mysterious or anything, this really happened. I wasn't nervous about the interview and I'd been perfectly fine up until whatever scared me started. I'd never had another experience like that before or since. I feel bad if I freaked those people out that day, but otherwise, I'm glad I never have to step back into that place again.

  • Addicct

    I applied to a pick-up-sticks resturant on acid once. Craziest. Interview. Ever. I got the job.

  • For the interview for the job I have right now it was a panel of three. I had to postpone the interview because I was terribly ill and had no voice. By the time the reschedule came around, I was still quite under the weather and came to the interview with tissues and cough drops. So, I was feeling self conscious to begin with.

    And then the weirdness started. Because of the reschedule the manager I would actually be working for was out, and another manager was sitting in. I came to find out later that this day was his last day in the office before he quit/was fired. All the questions he asked fell into the strange "What kind of tree would you be?" type that only really exist in interviews. Then he looked at my resume closely (we're at the 90 minute mark) and realizes I previously lived in a mid sized town several states away where an ex-girlfriend of his also lived. So he proceeded to ask me if I knew her. In a city of 55,000 people, I had no idea who this person was, but worded my answer carefully.

    Later, once I had the job and this person was no longer working there my co-workers who had been on the panel apologized for my having such a crazy interview, and apparently had done worse to the person before me. I like to think of it as a growing experience. Since then I've sat on a few of these panels and am always surprised at how many people don't come in prepared to interview for the position as stated, but are consistently looking for a better position. Or, how many people come in and name drop and don't field any questions about the job responsibilities.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    oh, and my favorite Intern story; Chief of Staff interviewing prospective intern:

    Intern: I'm only here to do substantive work.
    CoS: But my dear, you know nothing of substance!

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I've yelled at a prospective hire recently.

    I know this is old man "get off my lawn" but a shocking number of the younger candidates that have come our way have been just absurd. First; I get the "i'm here to do substantive work" and some variation of "I see myself running XYZ in 5 years" crap.

    The second is a total lack of understanding of what it means to do in-depth work.

    So back to the yelling story:

    We were hiring a new research person to replace the pretty awesome German Yale and LSE grad we had - very quiet, very focused and always looking to avoid conflict.

    The candidate on that fateful day was a cocky 20 something Argentinian born, Yale graduating, Fulbright scholar; and he made sure we had all those bit of information in the first 5 minutes.

    Starts off pretty normal, but we get to some obvious questions:

    Question"So what kind of research tools do you use, and how do you use them"?

    Answer: "oh, I pretty much just Google".

    Redirect: "Sorry, I mean for more in-depth research, what other tools do you find valuable, and what would you expect for us to make sure you had here; for example, talk about a complex research project where you generated some original findings."

    Answer: " Really, Google is all I need"

    Switch: OK, well, what kind of things did you discover about us before coming to this interview? What are the perceptions you found, questions that might have been raised that you would like to have answered?

    Answer: "Oh, I have to admit I didn't really look too much up about you, I figured I didn't need to".

    At this point I pretty much lost my shit. I was polite, but in a raised voice I basically told him that he was wasting my time and that Fulbright or no, he was going to find the real world expected a least some passing amount of effort.

    But here was the kicker, our very quiet, careful researcher just ripped into him. Just went to town on how she was embarrassed by his answers that she would let other fellow Yale grads know what a jackass she was. I'd never seen her angry, much less heated.

    Moral of the story - come prepped or don't come at all.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I wish I had a real job interview once in a while. I'm out of work for over a year now, and it's depressing.

  • Enrique del Castillo

    My craziest experience was from the side of the interviewer. Once, we had to interview a girl that actually referred to a fictional person that would be very proud of her, then she danced in the chair and said that we would be great friends.

  • I once went to an interview at about age 22 while still a bit intoxicated from my late night before (which went well into the wee hours of the morning of). Of course now I know that I should not have driven myself to that interview (from southwest Houston to north Houston, which is quite a long haul on freeways) but at the time I didn't even realize I was still tipsy until I was at the interview. I thought I was just hung over. But then at the interview I felt rather loopy and silly. I was interviewing for some sort of admin job at a Christian singles website (true story). It was the kind of Christian company that would frown upon alcohol use, so the whole time I wondered if they knew I was a bit drunk. The only question I remember clearly is them asking me for 10 adjectives to describe myself, and I could not come up with 10 words for the life of me, but all the ones I did come up with started with the letter "i" so that I got stuck on thinking of more "i" words: intelligent, insightful, intuitive.... I think I used "intelligent" twice but did manage not to say, "inebriated," though it ran through my head. Needless to say, I did not got a call back on that job.

  • Kay Gervais

    Summer I was 17, I was asked to be the replacement secretary for the "legitimate" business of a connected, yes, that kind of connected, family while the former daughter-in-law/secretary was on maternity leave. I was to handle payroll, dispatch, product ordering, answer the phones, get paid under the table. And, most importantly, if any phone call or, god forbid, this rarely happens, but if it does, someone shows up at the office (in a building behind the main house) that was not related to the "legit" business, I was not to engage in conversation, but direct person to the main house immediately. Did I fully understand this? Yes. What are you going to do if someone you don't know asks for Mr. Dad of Family? Call main house. And on and on in 12 different ways. The how to do payroll portion of the interview was maybe 2 minutes. The can we trust you to keep your head down went on forever.

  • ZombieMrsSmith

    I've been out of work now for over 18 months, so mostly the weirdness has been that I haven't gotten another job yet. I've had jobs since I was 16 and it frankly amazes me how insane and counterproductive the interview process has become.

    I guess the weirdest interview I had was for a grant-funded position on a three-year project with a very large New York City (and other cities) museum. It sounded like my dream job, though I applied mostly on a whim, because I thought I will never get a call. I assumed there would be scads of qualified candidates already in NYC.

    I ended up having four, hour-long phone interviews with various people in the department, all of whom insisted that they were looking for someone who would fulfill the three year assignment, then be interested in staying with the museum since everyone who works there loves it so much they never leave. Sounded totally awesome to me. The pay wasn't high for the area, but it was better than I was making locally and since we'd lived in NYC before, I was pretty sure we could make it work financially.

    After about six weeks, I was asked if I would come up for an in-person interview. They could offer me $150 reimbursement for my expenses. This was now early December, so fares were through the roof, but they didn't want to wait till after the holidays. I ended up buying my own ticket at more than twice the reimbursement and bunked in with a friend out in Brooklyn so I didn't have to get a hotel room.

    I spent 10+ hours interviewing the next day. One interview was via speaker phone as the person I was talking to was actually on-site at the museum that day. My cell phone had died early on as my charger had died the night before (ugh!). I bought a new charger on my way in to the interview and during lunch (which was on my own, no one offered to take me out), I cadged an outlet at the Pret across the street from the offices but only managed to get about 10% charge.

    After lunch, they put me in an empty office and asked me to fill out an application, which included a lot of information that is not actually on my resume and I couldn't remember right off the top of my head, like street addresses and phone numbers of companies I had worked for twenty years ago. I had an iPad with me, but no wifi access. Total stress test.

    I finished the day with the HR lead, who asked me lots of odd questions and we were interrupted by the senior department director, who came in to "steal" some candy from HR lady's desk. It was the only time I saw him that day. I was informed of next steps in the hiring process and that they would be extending an offer to one of the candidates after New Year's. Everyone was very positive and encouraging. When I got home, I sent thank you emails to about 14 people. The Communications director then sent me an additional list of questions (some of which were probing about my husband's company, which I sometimes do work for) that I spent probably another 3 or 4 hours thoughtfully answering.

    I never heard from them again. I emailed HR three weeks after New Year's but got no response. They reposted the position about six weeks later. I still have no idea what happened.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Well, frankly, that is awful. Hugs to you.

  • Pcatt

    Several years ago I was the manager of a veterinary hospital. When interviewing a guy for "kennel assistant" (which can be a very physically demanding job), we were discussing the job requirements. The male candidate, who was about 30 years old, began to tell me all about the shoulder and back injuries he had sustained at his last job and then proceeded to take his shirt off to show me the scars!

  • Melissa

    My craziest interview isn't nearly as interesting as these ones, but it did end in "The only reason we asked you to interview was because you are a girl."

    That man is lucky he didn't end up with my fist in his face.

    It was a terrible interview anyway, I made some rookie mistakes, the guy was a bit of a jerk, and so I didn't get the job, but when it ended on that line, I wasn't sad, not one bit.

    The best part about it, though? I'm an accountant. The place I know work at now hasn't seen a male in the department since 2007, though not for lack of trying.

  • K1i1

    I'm sorry to hear that your experience at the hands of unfair sexism has turned you into a sexist.

  • notmark

    Interviewed at a branding company; their website talked about using linguistics & our Latinate language heritage to create compelling names for products. I took four semesters of Latin in college & love linguistics, so I think this is my perfect job.

    When I arrive at around 1:30, they tell me it will be a long interview. I took the rest of the day off of work, so I dive in.

    Task one!: Recreate a PowerPoint based on a printout of said PowerPoint! Of course, it was originally created in some other program. It was about 15 slides, and it took me upwards of an hour to make it look as similar as possible to the original. During this entire ordeal, I'm sitting at a computer in the middle of the office, so people are walking by asking me who I am & what I'm doing there almost the entire time. I am told that I did the best job anyone's ever done recreating the PowerPoint.

    Task two!: Take a typing test online! Why do I have to take a typing test? Who cares! Just take one, dammit. I score 88 words per minute with 1 error. For some reason, this is incredibly impressive to the owner of the company, and it makes me an extremely valuable candidate.

    Task three!: Talk to some people! I am told to go and visit with each employee individually (there are about 5), talk to them about their job, and try to figure out if I'd like the job. The thing is, the employees are quite awkward people, and they're very busy, so I'm basically interrupting their daily workflow. Nobody is all that interested in talking to me about their job while they're trying to do their job.

    By this time, it is 3:30 in the afternoon. I have been there for two hours. This company is not Google. It has 5 employees.

    Task four!: Interview! Here is where things start to turn from the actual interview being bad, to the interviewee (me) being awful. The boss asks me, "What would other employees at your current job say about you." I have a very difficult time talking myself up, even though I've excelled at every job I've ever had, which means I reply to him by saying, "Basically, they'd say I'm a goof off. A goofy guy." I like to sabotage myself.

    Task five!: Bring in another employee! I ask the employee about work. He hems & haws and then tells me about getting calls at 7 AM on a Saturday to come in to work. I am currently barely scraping by on my salary, so, like any good interviewee, I pointedly ask him about how much money he makes. This does not go over well. He refuses to even give me an idea of whether the starting salary would be comparable to my current wage.

    Task six!: More interview! The boss comes back & says that I care too much about money. He thinks it's about getting a flatscreen TV, but he doesn't know my wife has a bun in the oven & won't be able to work. So, we chat about how I am, in his words, the worst interviewee he's ever seen. It's now 6:30 in the evening, and he wants to walk me out of the building. I have been there for five hours.

    Task seven!: Walk out together! After telling me I'm the worst interviewee ever, he tells me to come in the next day for ANOTHER INTERVIEW!

    Task eight!: The next day - Meet the wife/business partner! I go in for my second interview and talk to the co-owner/wife. I read a few articles about interviewing during the intervening evening, so I have questions ready. First question: In a high pressure job like this, how do you deal with work/life balance? She responds: I don't have one. She was a sad lady.

    I did not get the job.

  • CB

    What a pathetic hot mess. So much effort to hide your lack of talent. Can you tell us all again why you need to watch SNL because it has been around since you were born? Junk. Thoughtless junk. STFU.

  • koko temur

    is that the internet version of a crazy old guy talking to himself on the subway?

  • kushiro -

    Now THAT'S a crazy thing to say in an interview!

  • Skyler Durden

    Wut

  • Ami

    Funny thing, I actually have a job interview coming up on Monday. It will be 7.5 hours long. I am interviewing with a grand total of 14 people. I have to teach a 45 min lesson on author's intent to third graders. I am dying to get this job (an elementary librarian position) but I am a bit freaked by the intensity of this interview day.

  • koko temur

    Ami - how did it go? Hope you kicked ass!

  • Bodhi

    Thats awesome, good luck! I want to go back & get my MLIS, but the addition of 2 more kids in August is making me push that back a little.

  • koko temur

    i did many, many of those. Your best course of action - quiet and calm confidence. Let the crazy competetive people cancel each other out in the group.
    Good luck!!!

  • Wow, that sounds thoroughly intense! Good luck!

  • PDamian

    I've been a college professor for many years at several different universities, and as such, have been on many, MANY selection and hiring committees. Most of the applicants I've met were reasonably sane, but some of them were too weird for words. I know academia attracts quite a few people who don't fit anywhere else in the world, but still. So far, I've met (all on different searches):

    - a woman who scratched her way through an interview with the committee (everywhere -- arms, legs, neck, torso), shedding big flakes of skin all the way. I was torn between amusement, pity and horror;
    - a man who came in with a big wad of chaw tucked in his cheek and dribbled a bit when he answered questions;
    - a man who shook hands with the male members of the selection committee while refusing to shake the women's hands -- although he did leer at a couple of us -- and told an associate VP, also a woman, to "fetch him a nice cuppa, there's a love," in an obviously fake British accent, and told us all about his "raging Anglophilia" and how he was sure he had been TS Eliot in a previous life (guy was from Missouri); and
    - a woman who seemed like a good fit, and we might have hired her -- until we asked her if she had a preference of cuisine for lunch, and treated the committee to a 20-minute rant on her veganism, and how we mustn't go anywhere they served "flesh" because the souls of the dead animals would cry out to her, and meat is murder, and if we ate flesh, we were murderers ... I forget the rest, but talk about talking yourself out of a job.

    I'm also astonished by the number of people who apply for jobs for which they're clearly not qualified. If the advert asks for a PhD, then don't bother applying if you don't have one. And don't lie and say you do, then express surprise when we insist on seeing a transcript. "Don't you trust me?" is not an appropriate response, what's more. You'd be amazed how often this happens.

  • Mitchell Hundred

    One of my professors told us a story once about when she applied for a job at a Baptist University. University brass had recently passed a resolution that would allow dancing on campus. The selection committee was quite proud of this, and so she tried to feign interest in dancing so that they'd like her more. This ruse kind of fell through when one of the people on the committee offered to dance the minuet (or gavotte or something) with her.

  • kushiro -

    Ugh, the chaw thing. One of my friends had this good ol' boy prof from Texas on his committee, and during his Ph.D. defense, this guy just spit into a can nonstop for about an hour-and-a-half. It was nauseating.

  • Stina

    Wow, I would have failed that defense for sure. Gross. I grew up in a small town where the high school cowboys would spit into clear plastic pop bottles on the bus. It's the most disgusting habit I've ever seen.

  • MyySharona

    I was interviewing for some medical billing job and walked in to an office to be interviewed by five people. Surprise! I was living in a smaller town at the time and one of them said "I notice you have a college degree." Another one muttered, "That's surprising, seeing as you live in [name of town]."
    Bitch.
    Then they said I was probably not going to be hired because my degree meant I probably had too much ambition. That happened a lot, actually, so instead of saying "no, I swear I want nothing more than to work at this shit job forever" I took my hard-earned degree off my résumé and got hired as an in-home caretaker. Which had its own weird interview.
    The last interview I had was for proofreading through a temp agency. I was talking about my years of editing experience and was interrupted by "but you know how to use a mouse, right?" Uhhh, yeah. "I mean you can right-click and stuff?" Uh. Yeah. I can do that.
    I eventually got hired at that place and the first thing I did was to put in more stringent qualifications for proofreaders to avoid hiring dumbasses like the ones I had to work with that could, you know, right-click a mouse and stuff.

  • kushiro -

    Imagine how complicated it would be if they had a mouse with a clickable scroll wheel and those forward/backward buttons.

  • mswas

    Or, GASP, a trackball!

  • kushiro -

    Another long-ish one, from 1999:

    I have a Master's degree in Biology and spent three years setting up a lab and doing genetic paternity analysis, and teaching Human Physiology at a local college. The lab work fell apart for reasons too fucked up to describe, and the college didn't renew my contract.

    Three months pass and I'm getting desperate. Lots of applications, no takers. Staples is opening a new location, so I bite down and apply.

    The first thing Pete, the interviewer, does is look at my resume, look up at me, and say,"So tell me about you: what is kushiro's five year plan?" So, 1) third person question; and 2) he is 17. I'm 29. I can't even.

    I've already realized this will not work out well. So I tell him, to be honest, my five-year-plan is to step back, reassess and adapt to get my career back on track, preferably in my field. I need work; I need to pay the bills. He tells me that's no reason to work. I say that for most people that's the primary reason to work. He says the reason you want a job is to advance your career in the company. I say in an ideal world he's right, but there are times when circumstances require steady income. He says that nobody should ever take a job just for a paycheck. I say, "Pete, let's not get into a debate about the various reasons why people have to work in exchange for money that they need to stay alive and support themselves and their families."

    Another look at the resume: "You have no retail experience". I say, "yes, I do" (I worked in a duty free store for a couple of summers). Pete: "That was 9 years ago." Me: "I doubt that the basic principles of retail sales have changed all that much since then. Plus, I can learn how things are done here."

    Next: "how do I know you won't just find a job in your field and leave." I say I understand the concern, it hasn't happened yet, and is unlikely, and here I am, you need good people, and I'm available. I tell him I've worked with computers for years, I know their products, I can sell. He thanks me and gives me a half-hearted "we're letting people know on Monday." I mutter on the way out that I won't hold my breath. The girl at the counter who pre-interviewed me gives me a "thumbs-up" questioning look. I shake my head and leave.

    The next day I opened the newspaper and applied to teach English in Japan. Three months later I was eating ramen at a roadside stand, buzzing on Kirin Ichiban beer.

  • koko temur

    holy crap, we are like twinsies of bad interviews. I just want to give you a hug.

  • Oh dear lord...I worked at a Best Buy for 6 LOOOOONG years and my co-workers who acted like that dipshit are the WORST! Always trying to kiss the ass of any manager that's available and always spying on every other employee so they can tattle. The only good part from working with assholes like that is the slow but sure disillusioning that they go through. At first they are complete team players and will do anything they are told. We're talking about people with absolutely no self respect or shame. But they think that by being a puppet for some shitty retail chain that they'll be rewarded and be able to work up the chain and eventually be in management and actually make decent money. But most of the time they just end up getting screwed left and right. The company is downsized and managers and supervisors are forced out so then there is no possible way to move up. Then they finally come to the realization that they're working the same shit job as their colleagues and are not special in any way. Even worse because all their coworkers hate their fucking guts and avoid them at all costs.
    Wow....working retail has made me so very bitter but I promise it wasn't all bad! It's just that 6 years of 6am meetings on the weekends and being lectured about the same stupid fucking thing really take a lot out of you.

  • kushiro -

    Yeah, it's weird how involved the true believers get. I worked in maintenance at Guinness World Record Museum in high school. There was a night guy who did security and maintenance, and one night he pulled me aside and pointed out I had neglected inventory on plexiglass cleaner. His big threat was to ask me if I wanted to keep my job. I just laughed. Like who the fuck cares anyway?

  • You forgot the plexiglass cleaner?! How dare you!! lol Most of those people are the ones who never went to college so it literally is their shot for a career and they usually struggle to hide their contempt for all of us who only saw it as a job and nothing more.

  • BWeaves

    It's not the interview that was crazy, but how I got the interview.

    In my previous job, I walked out to the parking lot to get in my car and leave for the day. My boss intercepted me in the parking lot and handed me a post-it note with the phone number of a different company on it. He said, "I'm jumping ship. You have an interview with this other company tomorrow." We're both still at the new company 13 years later.

  • When I lived in VA, I occasionally hung out at this strip club that a friend of a friend's uncle owned. One night a bat got in somehow and freaked all the girls out. I was the only one willing or able to get rid of it and once I had, the owner offered me a job. The entire interview consisted of three questions: 'You need a job?' 'Can you throw a punch?' and 'Do you know how to make a boilermaker?' The answer to all three questions was 'Yes' and I ended up working there for about eight months as a bartender/bouncer/general handyman.

  • BiblioGlow

    Please write a noir-ish graphic novel series based on your life.

  • jeremiah

    Never had a flat-out crazy interview, but I had one for an entry-level publishing marketing job that I (in retrospect) was in no way qualified for or interested in. But, fresh out of college and needing cash, I arrived early with a crisp, empty resume, and proceeded with the interview process.

    It was one of those interviews where you have to talk with about a million different people. Two women began the interview, and it went great. We all clicked, had a pleasant twenty-minute conversation, and spirits were high. Next up was one guy, same thing; then a guy and a woman. After three hours and however many people, everything's gone great, and I am on top of the world.

    Then in came the Hammer, who saw through all my bullshit in about thirty seconds flat.

    Worse, there was another group of people after that, who I still clicked with, even though I knew I had absolutely no shot at the job. The whole thing took four and a half hours. Brutal.

  • elsie

    I once interviewed with a company that manufactured heavy duty plastic packaging material. I was applying for a position in the Environmental Compliance department. Now, the parent company to this company was the same one from that John Travolta lawyer/environmental disaster movie from many years back. The interview was grueling and took about 5 hours. I spent time with everyone from a Floor Supervisor right up to the company president. The president asked me what I thought was a situational type question - how would I handle the EPA in this particular situation. I spent a couple of minutes BS'ing my way through what I thought was the politically correct answer when the president cut me off. It turns out that what they were really looking for, he explained, was someone who could help them skirt the EPA regs because they were wanting to fill in some nearby wetlands so they could expand there operations. I was not offered the position.

  • kirbyjay

    Beatrice Chemicals, Woburn, MA?

  • elsie

    It was a subsidiary of WR Grace (the other company besides Beatrice that was involved in the movie case), located in Wichita Falls, TX.

  • kushiro -

    Jesus. What's the right answer, explain how toxic chemicals are good for the community? "Hey, turns out uncontaminated ducks are bad for the environment."

  • elsie

    I have no idea what the right answer should have been. I was in my mid-twenties and I had already been there for four hours at this point, and that doesn't count the two hours of driving I had to do to get there. I was really tired and frankly wanted to tell the company president to shove it and walk out. I just didn't have the balls to do it.

  • koko temur

    well, it sounds much cooler than it was. if anything, the whole experience was awesome in how mundane it actually was. but i do love to tell the story, specially because since it creeps people out, i dont tell it too often.

    so, to make the back story as short as possible, i was born in russia and my family immigrated to israel immidiatly when soviet union imploded on itself. my parents made a special effort to raise me bilingual. Israel has a mandatory draft, but somewhere through my mandatory service i was approached to become an officer. i served a couple of extra years voluntarily doing intelligence work for the air force. after a few years i got enough cash to backpack for a year in south east asia and to live pretty comfortably while in university, so i didnt extend my contract.

    well, just like receiving an Emmy nomination, apparently the surest way to become a member of intelligence community is to already be a part of it. or something. 4 years after i left the airforce, traveled, did my BA (international relations with a minor in chineese, that later turned to korean on account that chinese is too fucking hard. just in case someone out there interested in spy work, languages really do help) and went through hell of getting my first post college job, i got a phone call from a blocked number.

    the lady said she is calling from "national security" or some sort of equally false sounding neutral euphemism. i stared for awhile blankly. then i collected my jaw from the floor and said "but... but.. i didnt applied for you". and then, then, she said the single greatest sentence i ever heard: "oh, i know. we just have you on file already". how fantastically, awesomely creepy is that?! and at the same time, also a perfect marketing tool, isn't? i mean, i would be very dissapointed if one of the best spying agencies in the world didnt had a database of potential candidates.

    she invited me to an interview. now, as i pointed out above, by then i just got my shit together and had no desire to go through another another long reqruitment process and then training....and then working for a goverment. but if mossad invites you, you better fucking come, no?

    so how do you think looks mossad HR department? they sit in the most boring office building in the suburbs. but not inconspicuously mundane, if you get me. not like, the place you could say "this is the last place they would put something important, so it must be important!". no, on like random floor of a tall office building between medium sized lawyer firms and expensive dentists and semi-trendy coffee shops below. and while you search for it between all those dentists and lawyers, the sign that leads to it, and on the door itself is just a very simple metal pluck with words "human resources". no name of the company, even fake one. if you look closely on the door though, you could notice that its blast proof. probably capable withstanding weapons not yet invented. it had also a small 360 degrees camera that kinda zoomed in on you when you ring the bell and a man with a stern voice asked you what you want. when you buzzed in , the inside is just so alike a dentist receptionists room you head starts spinning from the stark contrast. so you kinda take in the very cute receptionist girl, the slightly outdated beauty and lifestyle magazines, the kaminsky and dali reproductions (a staple in israeli dentest and health clinics for some reason), the cheap coffee. and then suddenly realize that you were buzzed by a stern voiced man, and there is no man there. those kind of small details. it was a very strange day, is what im saying, but the interview itself was so, soooooooo absolutely mundane. so mundane that while being one of the coolest things that ever happened to me, i still could not retain almost no details of it. it was just so standard. you know, with questions about your best qualities and worst qualities and such. the only two things i remember well from that day is how surprisingly good mossads sandwiches are, and how amazingly rude my interviewer was. the intervier thing hunts me to this day. i just couldnt and still cant figure out if she was trying to rattle me by purpose to see how i respond to pressure/authority/something else, or she was just an awful interviewer. i remember her being an hour late to our appointment and calling bullshit on some trivial part of my childhood on the account she was "a geography enthusiast". i mean, i was there, i think i remember it better. unless you are telling me i was brought up by the mossad. and in that case, dont beat around the bush.

  • kushiro -

    That was great. The thing about you being on file reminds me of Career Day on Buffy, when the software company tells Willow: "we've been tracking you for some time". But, y'know, except for the part where they know a zillion ways to kill someone.

  • Guest

    frankly, i'm much more scared of software companies. look at it this way - CIA, MOSSAD etc are all government funded after all. they maybe have some obvious issues with what we and the goverment itself knows about their activities, but you sure can limit their money. i live in korea now, samsung can buy israel and CIA wholesale several times over.

  • Maguita NYC

    I am so tempted to learn Korean and try out for a short-term job there! The history and pop culture alone must be worth the try (and those weirdly cute boy banders). I'm learning Japanese right now (Katakana and Hiragana then attempting Kanji), and have been wondering if I should just jump to Korean. which would make learning Chinese later on easier...

  • koko temur

    i posted link in another tread below about the program im curently in, learning korean. Its an awesome apportunity, but quite intense though, think if learning korean is ALL you want to do for the first year.
    Also, i dont want to disrespect you or anything, because you may be just a genious, but please dont ever try chinese. It will test your sanity in new and refreshing ways.

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    What's up with the hate for Chinese? It's certainly different from the romance languages, but grammatically it's the easiest language I've ever studied- no verb conjugations! Past and future pretty much don't exist! I studied for 2 years at college, then spent an immersion semester abroad in Beijing and I had no trouble at all speaking Mandarin.

  • Mariazinha

    But this really made it difficult for me to understand things... Conjugating verbs, and past and future are essential for comunicating..
    At least my Portuguese raised brain things this way. There are a billian things I couldn't figure out how to express without it..

  • koko temur

    Yes, they just add extra words for EVERYTHING. In almost every language you can say " i went to school" and you know from this sentece it was an action, and it was performed alone and in the past. In anguages they will add extra 1-3 words for every one of little these. And maybe another 6 or so to clarify what was the intention of the speaker and did he end up completing that action or not.

  • koko temur

    and also, while absence of verb conjugations sound like a dream to some, it doesnt necesarrily means "easier".... Korean has it, but have literaly 9 diffrent forms for saying you "maybe" do something as a stand in for future or a polite way of suggesting the soup is too salty...

  • koko temur

    Well, you maybe just that much smarter then most. Didnt you had trouble with the tones? With learning new characters by the hundreds? Well done!
    Ironically, hebrew is very modern, therefore very economical language. when i translated to chineese my sentences were 5 times longer as a rule. Drove me nuts! Out of curiosity, whats your native language? And is chinese your second one?

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    My first language is English, Spanish is my second (I suppose, although I'm not fluent), and Mandarin's my third (again, not fluent, but I'm working on it!). They each had their own ups and downs. Vocab was way easier in Spanish because the words were similar to English- it was the grammar that drove me up the wall. I could understand/read Spanish, but speaking and putting together my own sentences was such a challenge, especially conjugating verbs correctly! With Chinese, it was much easier to remember the grammar, but the vocab was harder because Mandarin sounds nothing like English or Spanish.

    For multiple words with slightly different meanings, I don't think Chinese is more or less complex than English in that way. English has a lot of words where the meaning is relatively similar, but each word has a slightly different implication and alters the meaning of your sentence.

    What's your first language? And how many do you speak?

  • koko temur

    im equally fluent in russian, hebrew and english, they all fighting for being my native language, causing much confusion. I studied chinese for a year in university and then a year of korean. i study now korean full time in korea. Of course we covered everything i earned in a year of university in exactly 3 weeks in korea... Did it happen to you in your semester in beijing too?

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    Wow, that's amazing! I've always wanted to learn Russian. I think it might be the next language I try to take on.

    Lol, I remember powering through two whole textbooks during my semester abroad! Two years at university got me halfway through the third textbook that we used. One semester in Beijing and my group is most of the way through book 5.

  • koko temur

    Knew it! We power through two textbooks, 200 pages each, every 10 weeks. plus you have to have some sort of additional grammar books to help you out. After 8 months here, im running out of place to live in in my room!

  • Kailan_Sunshine

    Are you getting paid to talk up the program? Because that's the third time I've noticed you mention it. I have zero interest in Korean, so no.

  • Arrlo

    is there so many scolarships where you live, that universities have to hire anonymous promoters on the internet? to sneakily "talk up" free education? Lucky you.

  • koko temur

    no of course not.... I just, i dunno, think its really cool to get payed to study something in this day and age, and if people sound remotely interested in studying, im happy to recomend it. i also maybe just hope to get more native english speakers to hang out with.

    Look, im sorry if i sounded agressive, but no reason to get rude about it. That would be a very strange and longabout way of doing promotion - through mossad stories. And one i myself introduced a week in advance, no less! Scratch that, i surely did that, we, the jews, are notoriously crafty.

  • kushiro -

    This one is long, so I don't blame anyone for skipping it. I, of course, find it fascinating.

    In 2003, I applied for a job as a medical editor for a huge scientific publishing company in Amsterdam: application plus a mock edit of a journal article. I figure it's unlikely, since I don't really have a lot of experience, but the manager of the Editorial Department wants me to fly out for an interview the following week. Of course it's Thursday before Easter, so I scramble and get a flight for the following Wednesday. They put me up in the Victoria Hotel, which is awesome. I have a full day to prep and do some looking around.

    Next day is the interview. I take the train out of town to Almere, which is on a big parcel of land reclaimed from the sea, and kind of drab looking. Interview starts off with the manager who recruited me. He's all gung-ho about working with me. I'm going to start out as an editor and then move to project manager. I'll have 6 months in an apartment in Dam Square free of charge, then they'll help me find a place. Then I have an editing test. It's really tense but I do a decent job. He's pleased. Then he suddenly starts tearing into my original mailed-in mock edit, just demolishes it. But he assures me I'm his guy, he likes that I have great raw talent and can improve. Would I be willing to fly to London or Rome or Berlin to take some courses and go to seminars and workshops? Duh.

    Next is 45 minutes with a writer and a project manager. I show my writing samples, talk about some other stuff I've worked on. Pretty positive, though the editor expresses some puzzlement at my presence there, as both of them have loads of experience in New York and London. But there must be something to have the manager on my side, so...

    After lunch, a couple of harmless sessions with production and services and the manager of medical and communications. This is where I find out the work is In-House publications. Basically PR work for pharmaceuticals and medical instruments. Dude can tell I have a few doubts, but that's normal and what other projects would I be interested in on the side? I mention some ideas about educational projects directed toward schools, general public, etc. That will work out for them just fine.

    Second-to-last is where it starts to get uncomfortable. I meet with the Account Manager. We discuss salary, benefits, etc. Then he pulls out my CV and asks about my writing/editing. I pull out the samples and he gives them a look.

    Him: what about these journal articles you've proofread and edited? Me: those were in grad school. Him: surely you can cite the articles. Me: these were early edits; proofreads done for professors I worked with/under. Him: show me the acknowledgements. Me: profs don't always acknowledge that stuff, unless it's the final edit or review; plus when you're a grad student, don't expect a lot of credit. Him: "Why should I believe you?" (Remember, this is the account manager).

    Finally, HR manager. No-nonsense woman, strong Irish accent, red-hair tied-tight into a ponytail. She asks me to tell her about myself. I just get started and she cuts me off. She doesn't care about my personality, if I'm a good guy or a jerk, nor my interests or hobbies, nor if I have a family or friends. Just who am I? I try to recover and start to talk about accomplishments, goals, ideas related to their projects.

    Then she goes on this long speech: things get tense so I should expect to be criticized and yelled at; she has no problems telling people just what she thinks about them; there's no room for sensitivity; no punches pulled, no wallflowers. On and on. I say I am fine with criticism of my work, but I won't accept personal attacks or cheap shots. She's a bit taken aback, but recovers with: "I don't know why [manager's name] brought you here. What makes you think you should work here? Why should I hire you??" I honestly don't remember what I said.

    That's over. I take the train back to Amsterdam, get super duper high and watch Dutch TV while smoking and drinking Grolsch. Next day I go to some awesome museums, wander around the Vondelpark, and have some fantastic Ethiopian food. In the evening I happen upon a strip club featuring an air sex show hosted by Ron Jeremy(!). The next morning I fly home, give up the fantasy of life in Amsterdam, and two days later I am feverish and weak, suffering from the chicken pox I probably picked up on the flight.

    That was my last "real" interview.

  • koko temur

    academic editing is one of my dream jobs, the whole thing was fascinating . thanks for sharing!

  • koko temur

    omg, i had few of those, when someone brought me in and was super excited and then the rest of the food chain just demolished me. im sorry to hear that. but on the small, tiny bright side, i can say that you dodged a bullet there. its usually not the problem with you per se, but a power struggle between the partners and such. i ended up getting in in one of those situations, and the guys who didnt wanted me hired made my life a living hell, just to punish the first guy. it was my first job out of college and i cried almost every day for 8 months.

    did you end up working in editing after all?

  • kushiro -

    No. I did a few contracts here and there. I edited a biography, wrote a guide to NZ citizenship (though I'm Canadian), and a few other things, but I haven't really had any kind of meaningful job (of any kind) since 2002.

    By the way, you mentioned in the other thread you are in Korea. In your intended field, or something else?

    I had the best job of my entire life in Seoul. I was an actor in an English language-teaching web-TV program. Should have stayed there, I guess.

  • koko temur

    i'm in this international program, if you miss korea,and have nothing to tie you in canada, you can come! and they pay you too !(very little)

    got the info for you, its a hard, but very cool program:
    http://www.niied.go.kr/eng/con...

  • Rochelle

    I have interviewed the same person for two different jobs at two different companies 8 years apart. Both times she gave long rambling answers that in no way addressed the question and volunteered wildly inappropriate personal information. In the first interview she broke down crying. I was grateful she didn't recognize me during the second interview. I argued against hiring her both times.

  • Maguita NYC

    I used to be an HR Manager for a while in retail and interviewed so many odd cookies, I still cannot believe how much people reveal about themselves! From sex to dysfunctional family drama, I've heard it all. My office was a confessional.

    The scariest was a guy enraged that we took weeks to call him for an interview. When he entered my office, he sat down and said "please don't ask me stupid questions about myself, I'm a professional and deserve better." What he considered stupid: Tell me about your last job, what do you know about our brand, and how do you think you'd fit in the fashion industry. He got scarier and scarier, I had to promise him a callback before he finally left my office.

    Had a security guard walk by my office from time-to-time after that one.

    The funniest was a young guy applying for a part-time salesperson position. He came in full Britney Spears regalia dressed in a nude get-up (short cropped tight top and low pants), make-up, and intensely stared at my boobs during the whole interview... Which were covered in a properly buttoned-up shirt.

    Tried to have him look me in the eyes, to no avail. Still don't know if it was shyness, pervy-ness, or he was simply cross-eyed and my boobs were in the way.

  • Rochelle

    Maybe he was scoping your boobs out for himself. My cousin spent 2 years trying to decide what boobs she wanted before her gender reassignment surgery. It led to some awkward encounters.

    The other one sounds scary and in no way funny.

  • koko temur

    How innappropriate? And how did she fit it in the conversation? Did you asked about her last job and she said she has daddy issues?

  • Rochelle

    Pretty much. I don't remember most of the particulars, but in the second interview I asked why she wanted the job and she talked about her brother's suicide. It was a job with a gourmet food store - cheese department. The first interview was equally weird and random.

  • idgiepug

    My strangest job interview was at a fairly small, rural high school and was conducted by the principal and the head of the English department, both male. They invited me to sit on a couch in the principal's office, and I did so assuming that the principal would return to his desk chair and the dept. head would sit in the other nice office chair. But no, somehow they both ended up on the couch, one on either side of me. It's quite possible that this was an innocent move or something they did in all interviews, but it was damn strange and uncomfortable for me. The logistics alone - trying to answer questions and make eye contact with people who were both to my right and left - made it difficult. I didn't get the job, but by the time the whole ordeal was over I had decided I wouldn't take it even if they did offer, so I wasn't especially disappointed. If this happened today, I would have the guts to say something or leave, but my twenty-something-desperate-to-get-out-of-my-parents'-house self was not so strong.

  • Mr. Exsquire

    I had two interviews with a mid-sized Dallas law firm while I was in my second year of law school. The first interview was pretty straight forward. Lots of discussion about transcripts, classes, why you want to live in Dallas, etc. The second interview involved all of the potential job applicants who made the first cut being flown to Dallas to the actual office where we would go around to all the members of the firm for individual interviews and would later be taken out to lunch before getting put on a plane back home. Within five minutes of arriving I knew there was no way in hell I was getting that gig. There were 10 of us for one job. One nerdy Asian dude, myself, and 8 smokin' hotties who just walked out of a "Girls Gone Wild: Law School!" video shoot. There was definitely a hiring criteria that I did not meet. And I was pretty well ignored the entire day. I could not get home fast enough.

  • Vince

    That's what you get for not being a nerdy Asian dude.

  • Robert

    Let's see. I guess the craziest is when I broke off from a group interview at a movie theater to a one on one interview. The manager asked the regular questions you'd expect, then whispered at me "Are you a fag?" I was startled and had no idea how to respond. Then she said "We don't need any more fags around here," asked one more question, then ended the interview. I don't know why she assumed I was gay (I'm not) and I really don't know why she would put her job on the line to ask illegal hiring questions to keep the gays away.

    I waited a week to hear back from the theater to see if I got the job or not and took the silence as a blessing in disguise. I wrote corporate and they immediately contacted (wait for it) the manager who asked the question she wasn't allowed to ask. Long story short, I had to threaten a restraining order to get the manager to hang up and leave me alone.

    I'd say that's a pretty crazy interview.

  • maureenc

    Do not join a law firm where one of the managing partners asks you your Zodiac sign. I should have seen that as a warning.

  • Mhs.Sally

    I had an interview with a bookstore I ended up working at for a long time. I had a typical interview with the manager, and then one with the owner. We met in an office the size of a small closet. He had been a psychoanalyst for his whole adult life and it was a weirdly inappropriate interview which was essentially a therapy session. Maybe it was a strategy to feel out the crazy people or the unreliable, but it was pretty bizarre, especially for a small bookstore. I remember talking about my grandmother and her recent death, my mother, and my childhood. I think I was 19.

  • Milly

    I've never applied for a crazy job, so I've not had the opportunity of an interview for one.

    Ba dum tish.

  • Milly

    Upon reflection. No to the ba dum tish. No to attempted humour that is not humorous.

  • Take it from someone who tells a lot of bad jokes. If you're going to tell a bad joke, don't back away from it afterwards. Fuckin' own it and revel in every last bit of it.

  • This was weird only in context (and not nearly as interesting as a call from the Mossad): while interviewing for a job as a youth director at a church in a conservative Southern town, I was asked if I was okay with social drinking. I replied that while that was not a personal choice of mine, I had no problems if other people chose to and they were of age. THAT was why I was hired, not because of any particular competence of mine, but because they interpreted that to mean I was okay with the chaperoning adults having drinking parties on trips after the kids were in for the night. Um, no. Sorry. If you're helping me wrangle 25-30 teenagers on a trip away from home, I need you sober and not hungover.

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