I have been on a lot of interviews. A lot. This statement might lead you to believe I’m a job hopper, but that’s a topic for another day. Today, I will share with you a few of my most interesting interview experiences ever. Or, if you prefer to hear it in my Sandlot voice, EV-ERRR.
My best interview experience was for a job that lasted four months. After having a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager at an ad agency, I had a conference call with two team members who worked in other cities. I loved that call. Talking with Dan from Des Moines and Liz from St. Louis was fun; I really connected with these people! If only I’d gotten to work with them every day instead of the drones in my local office. And if only I’d had even a passing interest in agriculture, the agency’s bread and butter.
My worst interview experience was last year after being laid off. I’d applied and interviewed for a job at the headquarters of a service fraternity. I wasn’t what the manager was looking for, but he liked me. So he referred me to his colleague at another fraternity headquarters based here in town. After a few e-mails back and forth with this guy’s assistant, we finally scheduled an interview. For the day of a snow and ice storm. In the middle of a terrible sinus infection.
I went anyway – after all, I couldn’t afford to pass up any opportunity for a job. Somehow I made it to the office in time (difficult with the snow and ice), but the interview had a rocky start when I declined to shake the director’s hand for fear of passing along germs. He didn’t like that so much. (Believe me, he would’ve liked the infection even less, but try telling him that.) For the next 45 minutes, this man pored over my resume, grilling me about every move and decision I’d made since my junior year of high school.
And then the best part, he asked me about every single job, “Why did you leave this job? Why did you take this job? Do you regret it?”
And then! Then he asked me, regarding leaving one job, “Were they surprised you were leaving? Did they care? Did you even do a good job?”
Seriously. I mean, questions are great. And honestly, reflection on my crazy career path is healthy for me and understandable for a potential employer. But you should have heard him. He was MEAN about it. It’s like he was digging for DIRT, or just an excuse not to hire me.
I couldn’t even leave after he was finished wringing me out. I had to take three tests, proving that I could write a letter, design a newsletter (in a version of Quark I was not familiar with) and talk about my hero.
I have never been so relieved to be finished with an interview. And never so shocked (SHOCKED!) to receive a job offer. After all that, that man offered me a job. I was so thankful to have gotten another job offer, so I could say without hesitation, “Thanks, but no.”
I don’t want to leave you on a bad note, so I’ll tell you about another good interview. After writing about fertilizer and vaccines for two months, I realized I could not stay at the second ad agency, no matter how much I loved our PR department. Fortunately, a friend and former volunteer from the non-profit I worked for after college hooked me up with an interview at another charity. Sitting in that room, with the executive director and hiring manager, I felt so at home, at ease. Because for the first time in my career, I truly knew what I was talking about. Thanks to my time at a non-profit, combined with a couple years in advertising, I was so completely qualified for the position they needed to fill. And it was just so great to talk non-profit after being in the materialistic world of advertising. I loved that interview. And in so many ways, I loved that job.
Here’s a question for you: have you ever had an exit interview? Did it go well? Was it a disaster? Spill it!