How To Survive a Disastrous Interview
Dropping to your knees and crawling out is always an option
Job interviews can be enlightening growth experiences that lead to exciting opportunities. And they can also be nightmares.
I once arrived for an interview where I quickly learned that I was being considered for a job still occupied by someone else — who didn’t know she was about to be replaced. The entire office was abuzz moments after I told the receptionist I was there to interview for the marketing manager job in response to her question. I could visibly watch the news travel like wildfire as I sat in the waiting area — stupefied — seeing people’s reactions and knowing I’d lit the match.
And then I saw a woman rise from her desk, red faced, and march to the bathroom. The marketing manager, I presume?
The ensuing interview was awkward, to say the least. The hiring manager apologized for the hullaballoo and mildly scolded me for disclosing the reason for my visit. (I was never told it was a secret, mind you.)
The longer the interview continued, the more annoyed I became. If that’s how they treated people, this was not a place I’d want to work. In fact, I kinda wanted to go find the incumbent and buy her a drink. As the conversation concluded, instead of asking about their selection process, I wished the manager well and told him I didn’t think the job would be a good fit for me. Stunned at my candor, he thanked me and turned to deal with the fallout that awaited him.
Interviews can be revealing.
Coming out at work
Sometimes the embarrassment in a job interview works the other way.
Early in my career, I worked in an insurance claims office — a big, open room where all desks faced the same direction in neat rows. At the front of the room was a door to the stairwell, and, next to it, a door to a closet.
We were on the second floor. When people came to interview, they’d come up the stairs and into the main room, accompanied by the interviewing manager. They’d head together to a conference room for an hour or so, then come out alone.