My Top 5 Most Embarrassing Job Interviews

My Top 5 Most Embarrassing Job Interviews
When my grandpa was interviewing for his first job, he had just graduated from high school. He aced the interview, went to work for a big company, and worked for that company until the day he retired. Nowadays, we switch jobs or even careers every few years. Sure, I like the excitement and the diversity as much as the next chronic job-seeker, but one thing I could do without is the recurring stress of an embarrassing job interview. Here, in chronological order, are my top five most embarrassing job interviews:

Dress to Impress

My first ever job was at McDonalds, during my senior year of high school. My mom drilled it into me that I was supposed to dress professionally for interviews, so I wore a black suit, a pressed white shirt high heels. It turned out to be a group interview, and everyone else was dressed casually in jeans and t-shirts. I felt like a real schmuck, and since every single person who applied was hired, my nickname from the first day was Eager Beaver.

Be on Time

Two years later, I showed up to an interview for an office assistant position feeling confident that I was dressed correctly this time. I made sure to be ten minutes early, as my college career counselor had advised me. Unfortunately, I was ten minutes early one week too late. Needless to say, the position had already been filled. The new office assistant felt so sorry for me that she offered me a glass of coke, so at least I got a free drink out of it.

Make an Entrance

Fast-forward three years. I’ve graduated from college, and I’m striding into a chemistry lab to interview for a researcher position. Scratch that…I’m striding into a glass door, which shatters. Not only did I have to be rushed to the hospital, but the lab sent me a bill for the door. However, this one has a happy ending: the employer rescheduled the interview and I got a job offer, which more than covered the cost of the door.

Do Your Research

By some miracle of efficiency on the part of my recruiter, I was asked to interview with three companies on the same day. Fearing that I would confuse the companies with each other, I jotted down relevant details on index cards, which I took with me. At the last interview, I apparently left my index cards in the waiting room. The HR manager called me later to explain that since I thought their company was “stuffy and conservative,” they would not be extending an offer.

Be Yourself

My toddler’s ear infection had kept me up all night. The next morning, the group interview with an educational travel agency started off with a slide-show. The last I remembered was the lights dimming: then, I jerked awake as I heard an acerbic, “Not boring you, are we?” The slide show was long over, everyone was looking at me, and the string of saliva hanging from my lip made my utter humiliation complete. At that moment, I resolved to find a way to work from home.

My grandpa may have had some tedious days at work, but at least he didn’t have to suffer the mortification of a job interview gone wrong. Frequent career moves provide abundant opportunities for embarrassment…and since there are so many different things that can go wrong, each interview is a new disaster in the making.

Comments (1)

Beautiful stories, and so well written!

I was always extremely lucky in job interviews, and basically got every job I ever really wanted, except one. I think a good part of that luck was based on the idea that I was well prepared (or appeared to be) for those jobs that seemed so important.

But one experience really blew my mind. This wasn't technically a job interview, but an interview for a company to use my new company's graphics services. I was interviewing with the owner in his unusually well appointed executive office (giant parqueted wood desk, oriental rugs, real oil paintings and sculptures, bar, etc.), and after about 20 minutes of telling me all his company's needs (which I could easily fill) he turned his head, cleared his throat, and spit a big nasty loogie right onto the beautiful oriental rug! There wasn't a trash can near, it was just inexplicably right in the middle of the freakin' rug. An intentional spit, not an accident or sudden uncontrollable medial event. And there was no way to ignore the event, the sounds, or the resulting mess on the floor!

I didn't know how to react!?! Ask if he was OK? Walk out? Pretend I didn't notice? Act oblivious to the disgusting circumstance and say "Nice shot!"? But it wasn't a miss at anything - it was just a plop in the middle of open rug! He looked at me, almost daring me to say something - which I'm just full enough of myself that I would say something, but what? I quickly realized he must be some weirdo idiot who has done this just to shock me, like an old Monty Python skit. And I was shocked, but more than anything I was mystified as to how to handle this bizarre act!?

After what seemed like 5 minutes of the most awkward silent tension, I knew I didn't want to work with such a moron, even though I could really use their cash flow into my life. So I stood up and proclaimed, "Well then, I guess we're done!", and turned and walked out. And yet my eyes couldn't help taking one last desperate quick peek back at the festering globule on the beautiful oriental rug, as my mind raced through the events of the last few minutes in search of a trace of reality or meaning or understanding. As he softly chuckled at my exit, I looked back one last time with the best sly smile I could muster to let him know, "I understand you're just trying to shock me, but it didn't work!". When in reality, he blew my mind and disgusted me in ways I wasn't even aware were possible!

I never saw any type of interview situation the same again.
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