By J.T. O’Donnell
I saw this video a while back and couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t know if it’s the kid doing the interview, the one over-the-top guy that connects with him about a monkey mug, or how crazy the interview questions are, but I guarantee anyone that’s ever interviewed for jobs has felt the way these interviewees felt at least once. It takes everything in our power not to want to get up and leave an interview that is going wrong, and yet, we stay in hopes of getting the offer. Why do we want the job so bad? Shouldn’t red flags be waving wildly through our heads that we should chalk it up to a bad fit and move on? Nope. Instead, something inside us says, “I just got to get this job offer.” Well, I say, if it felt wrong in the interview, it’s going to feel wrong on-the-job too.
I should know, it happened to me….
Many years ago, I was living at home after college. I graduated in the last recession and the job market was horrible for new grads – just like it is now. I was miserable in my hometown and desperately trying to find a job back in Boston where I went to college. I finally got the call from a small company I had applied to that specialized in translating documents. I had spent a year abroad and spoke French, I also had a degree in Engineering – it was these two points that got me the interview. I should have known the moment I got there that something wasn’t right. The first person to interview me was the CFO and he asked me questions like, “How well do you take criticism? Do you have a high tolerance for being yelled at?” He proceeded to explain the owner of the agency was a bit challenging to work with. He defended him by saying he was a very intelligent guy (went to MIT, etc.), but his people skills left something to be desired. I, eager to get out of my hometown, squelched the desire to leave the interview and simply said, “Oh, no problem. I’ve got really thick skin.” I was asked similar questions by the other two managers who interviewed me, but again, instead of being honest, I gave them the answer they wanted to hear.
Finally, I was then ushered in to meet the owner. He was disheveled-looking in clothes that made me wonder if he slept in them. He began asking the most random questions I have ever heard. I was stuck in his office for over an hour while he went on-and-on about with random stories about translation that had no relevance as far as I could tell to the job I would be doing. Once again I should have known, as I finally escaped the interview two hours later, this job was not for me. But, I was young and naive.
The next day they offered me a job – the VERY next day. (C’mon now, who does that?) Yet, I swallowed my concerns and said ‘yes,’ thinking I could at least stand the job long enough to get settled in Boston and start looking for a new one. What a critical error on my part. The job was a nightmare. The office dynamics I experienced make the ones on the show “The Office” look ideal. There was screaming and crying almost daily. I was so drained leaving there every day, it left me with no energy to look for a new position. My husband was my boyfriend at the time. He felt helpless watching me become depressed. I gained 20 pounds as I tried to eat my problems away.
And then I snapped…
On my year anniversary, I anxiously awaited my paycheck, which was supposed to include my raise. I had been told it was significant and my hard work would be rewarded. I was proud of the fact I had dealt with the male version of Miranda from “The Devil Wears Prada” for 52 weeks. I was sure I would see big $$$. I was making $28,000/year. I opened the check, calculated the increase, and realized I had only gotten a $1000 raise. I imploded. I walked into the CFO’s office and resigned. He chased me down the hall, begging me to go home and think about it. He said, “Please! You are the longest person we’ve ever had in this role!” I returned the next day and said I would stay on, but that was the first day of my last days there. I went on a mission to find a new job. It took four months to find one. When I resigned, the owner wouldn’t speak to me and asked me to leave immediately. The employees wouldn’t look at me either. I think they just hated the idea I was free.
Taking that job changed the way I looked at interviews for ever. So tell me….what was your worst interview like? Did you accept the job when it got offered to you? How’d it go? Can you relate to what I experienced?