Worst Job Interview You Were the Inteviewer On

I’ve noticed that veterans, specifically those who recently left the military, tend to give very terse answers. From what I’ve gathered, this is how they’re accustomed to answer questions from the promotion board.

If you write the correct incantation on the whiteboard it summons the demons! Just like on Indiana Jones.

Well the good news is you’re already used to the “working until midnight” part. :slight_smile: That’s pretty typical in waay too many businesses no matter when the workday starts. At least in IT.

I came to find that while the official start of the work day was 8 AM, the facility didn’t really start to “wake up” until 9-10, with many engineers spending most of their evenings at work…

In fact, this led to one of my favorite incidents (or non-incidents). In the course of the usual reorganization that overtakes large companies every couple of years, our little division got folded into a bigger division. The VP came down to get acquainted, and at the end of the week held an all-hands. He said that he was disappointed that when he arrived at the start of the day (8 AM) the parking lot was so empty and he didn’t want to have to impose any new rules, but the work day starts at 8 AM. The next week he was in a meeting with the manager of our facility and he was told that many engineers had let our boss know that if they were required to start work at 8 AM, they would also feel obligated to leave work at exactly 5 PM!

We never heard another word out of the big boss about working hours and our boss told us informally to just keep working the hours that got the job done.

Oooohhh. So close to a r/maliciouscompliance post.

Given the usual turnover in on-air radio personnel, lasting several months was a pretty good achievement.

This was not an interview I did but one my boss did. This was probably 25+ years ago. The office was set up as 3 separate rooms. My office was in the middle and my boss’ was to the right of mine with a doorway between us.

A nicely dressed man came in for his interview for what I think was some kind of managerial position. He sat down with my boss and the interview began. My boss left his door open. I was going about my business at my desk when suddenly a horrific odor snaked its way into my office. It smelled like rotted teeth bad breath. After a few minutes, it was as strong as ever. I got up and went to the file cabinet where I could see into my boss’ office. My boss was sitting at his desk with his hand cupped over his nose and mouth trying to talk to this guy and trying not to vomit, I’m sure. My boss and I made eye contact - his eyes were huge and they slightly rolled back. I thought he might pass out.

The guy wasn’t hired. I don’t know how we would have been able to have him in the office. We felt bad for him, but we talked and laughed about that interview for many years.

Not an interview, but one of my commanders in the military had the most incredibly putrid sulphurous body odor I’d ever smelled from a human being. I stink pretty good myself, but this guy was in a league of his own. First thing in the cool morning, wearing shiny new clothes he smelled incredibly bad. By end of day it was eye watering.

Fast forward a year or so. Suddenly he doesn’t smell any more or differently than anyone else. Eventually the story got around that he’d had some weird allergy / inability to digest something / skin infection that he’d finally gotten definitive treatment for. I’m sure he was much happier with the change; we certainly all were.

Ref your story …
In college we did have one prof in the department who had snaggly teeth with big hunks of permanent green stuff stuck between them. Fortunately I only had a mongo lecture hall class with him & sat well back. But his breath was the stuff of legend. Again a couple years later one day he shows up with no green stuff and no unusual stink. When I graduated a couple years later his teeth were still clean.

I don’t know how much his dental team charged to fix that, but I do know it wasn’t nearly enough.

Moderating: There was a thread for interviewee and this is not that thread. Please don’t turn this around. No warning issued.

That reminds me of a friend of mine who applied for job as a part-time librarian. It was a panel interview, where he sat facing three managers. He is a very sociable guy and very literate and it seemed to be going quite well with lots of agreeable nods at his answers to their questions. But his confidence got the better of him. A lady on the panel asked:

‘So, how do you feel about working with an almost entirely female staff?’

Quick as a flash he arched his eyebrow and smiled as he replied.

‘I don’t suppose social intercourse would be too much of a problem!’

Suddenly there was a nervous shuffling of papers and the face of the lady who asked the question turned red, crossed her legs and looked away. He clearly had not got the job.

He was puzzled by this reaction, but later realised his witty reply had misfired very badly…because he forgot to say ‘social’.

I was not the interviewer, but a colleague was. When I left my first job, I had built up a small but very competent research group of half a dozen people. Once I arrived at my new job (managing research projects in a group of about 50 researchers), I started pulling people from my old group in. The first one, a great problem solving engineer, went swimmingly, so I contacted my “super tech” from my old group and told him to apply and I’d make sure everyone knew about his qualities and potential.

This may have been a mistake, as it might have made him a bit too confident at the interview. According to my friend/colleague, who was the hiring manager, the interview went pretty well, but as it was wrapping up and they were chatting about the town and what it was like, he suddenly mentioned that once he got settled he intended to dip back into the dating pool and asked my friend if she “had any sisters”. That was the end of his prospects with my new research group. As my colleague put it, there’s friendly and there’s too friendly.

Eons ago I did the hiring and often the firing for an assisted living facility. We did the drug tests in-house, and to do so we had this little kit that an applicant would take to the WC, pee in a cup, bring it back to us, and we’d use a dip strip to test for all the usual suspects.

This was back when paper applications were still normal. Each application had a cover sheet that explained the overall process: First, an application was submitted. If the company chose to interview, the applicant would get an interview with a panel. If they made it to round two, they would get an interview with me, and subsequent to that any offer of employment would be based on the successful completion of a background check and a drug test, which would be conducted on the day that the employment offer was made. The bolded part was bolded on the cover sheet as well. Applicants also had to sign a statement that they understood the application and interview procedure as outlined on the cover sheet. All applicants who interviewed would be read the process as well during the first few minutes of the panel interview, and then I would repeat it for any candidates I would interview in round 2.

The point, of course, was to prevent people who knew they would not pass the drug screen from wasting everyone’s time.

Anyway, (I’m sure you can see where this is going), a woman applied for a caregiver position. She had a Oregon CNA license, valid with no complaints lodged against it, and many years of experience. She had good prior references. She made it through the first round of interviews, and the panel gave her a glowing recommendation. I interviewed her and thought she was great. After the interview I asked her to wait in the lobby while I “checked references” (really I was filling out the job offer paperwork). I called her back in, told her she had the job, and explained the drug test procedure. She was excited, and started asking about her first day’s schedule, what uniform policy was, and other fairly standard questions. We talked about the paperwork that she’d need to fill out, and she said she could do it that very day. She appeared quite eager to start, and we scheduled her orientation for the next day. She had more questions, and I thought she would make a great employee. I gave her the test kit, directed her to the bathrooms, and told her she had X minutes to return the sample. I was mentally patting myself on the back for finding such an experienced caregiver who by all appearances, was interested in the job and doing it well.

Naturally, it wasn’t to be. She left my office, walked out of the building, tossed the test kit in the garbage by the side entrance, and left. One of the employees who was on break brought the kit back to my office, covered in cigarette ash from the trash can, and told me the woman had simply driven away.

She never came back and I never heard from her again.

That was easily 15 years ago and I’m still annoyed with her and how much time she wasted for everyone involved, fully knowing she wouldn’t be able to pass the drug screen.

I always advise people to be on their best behavior on an interview even if they’re internal candidates. Dress properly even if it’s casual Friday and you’d normally wear your jeans. And while you can certainly be yourself, just be your best self. I certainly joke around with my coworkers but the things I’d say to them wouldn’t ever pass my lips during an interview.

Possibly, but he seemed extremely nervous. It wasn’t so much as terse, as he didn’t have anything else to say or didn’t know what to say. In retrospect, I suspect that his resume may have somewhat exaggerated his qualifications.

Also, I’d like to add that this was for a position with a Washington State government agency (which is the agency I work for). Three out of the four people on the panel (including myself) were IT staff who did pretty much the same duties as the position we were trying to fill (though at a higher level), the only person on the panel not in IT was there because she was an experienced interviewer who helped facilitate the flow of questions and time management. Even she was somewhat technically inclined as well. Earlier in this thread someone mentioned that California State government jobs only have bureaucrats doing interviews, and if that’s true it’s a pretty large difference from how my own state does it.

(To be fair, if California was a nation it would have the 5th largest economy in the world, so I would understand if things are done differently by necessity.)

I didn’t mean to give you the impression I was second guessing you. You were there not me. But your description made me think of the veterans I’ve interviewed. It’s not all of them that give terse answers but it’s a good number of them.

No I understand, and it’s a very interesting observation. Thank you for sharing it. :slight_smile:

Never been in the military, so I post from a position of even greater ignorance than usual, but is it not true that you quickly learn to keep your mouth shut whenever possible to avoid getting in trouble? I wonder if that deeply ingrained behaviour could be manifesting itself here?

Former USAF officer …

Only misfits are thinking about getting into/avoiding “trouble”. But interactions with folks farther up the food chain are much more formalized in the service. And the bigger the distance between folks on the food chain compared to yourself the more that’s true. Having a chit-chat with your great grandboss was very unlikely to ever happen.

In the service you can instantly tell the relative position of you and anyone else; it’s sewed to their sleeve or pinned to their collar. And to yours. In fact you can know their paycheck to within a few percent just by looking at them from across the room. (imagine the disruption that publicly publishing everyone’s paycheck every 2 weeks would cause at your employer!)

Those social landmarks are very obvious. Once used to that milieu, the ambiguity inherent in looking at a panel of folks with no real clue as to who “outranks” who is disorienting. What the heck does “Director of …” mean?

So better to play extra safe. Which is exactly what @Odesio suggested when talking about interview chit-chat: be yourself, but be your “best” self.

I mentioned above that I was a crappy civilian interviewer. I did interview a few veterans for what amounted to a SME sales support role. The plan was that we’d teach them our product, but they’d have the social / cultural context to easily fit in selling or supporting sales to government agencies like police, fire, and state emergency services. All veteran-heavy quasi-military agencies.

The ones who claimed tech credentials usually weren’t lying exactly, but they’d been given very narrow procedural monkey-see-monkey-do training and had operated in a very locked-down environment where what they saw always matched their training. The DoD is also famous for having their own set of terminology for everything.

So the chaos of civilian IT was a new experience for them. And often they did know how to do something you expected, but not by the name you called it. As such teasing out the differences between the resume and the person was often work.

I don’t know about other people but what really aggravates me here in Australia is people who advertise an entry level position for months with several agencies and probably collect hundreds of resumes.
Why? My best guess is they just continually ‘hire and fire’ people to avoid government regulations regarding superannuation, obligations of making people ‘permanent’ employees after three month period etc.

So he was an engineer?

My guess is that she was one of the younger generation of narcissicists.
I guess I’m getting old. But it would simply never occur to me to treat people the way some (but not all fortunately), younger people treat people of all ages. Heaven help you if you have a grey hair showing.