10 of the worst kinds of interviews

I’m back in Thailand. It was a great experience being in Malaysia for a week that I shall never forget. However, now I’m in a hotel not far from a lovely river and city scene looking forward to another hot day in the city. I’ll be on my travels again next week and will of course keep you all updated.

As you know at the beginning of the year I set up www.virtualdemon.com. This is a virtual assistant and administrative online business focusing on the recruitment sector in the UK. I am making this bigger and better.

I was thinking about interviews today. Everyone at some stage has had to do an interview. Most people have had both good and bad experiences, the experience changes depending on the interviewer, the questions they ask and even the setting that the interviews can take. I thought I would share some of my experiences with you for general amusement and for things to watch out for in the future.

                                                         Interview Nightmares

 Most of these are from my own experience. Some of these are from ex-colleagues that I have spoken too or things that I’ve heard of from other offices.

  1. The summer job interviews


We’ve all had these jobs. The kind of jobs that you get to earn some pocket money to buy that games console you wanted or save up to go on holiday with your mates. But sometimes they can be stupid things they make you do in them such as one retailer asked their candidates to build a tower out of toilet paper and then wrap the toilet paper around one of your team members from head to toe. How does that show any ability for you to do a job?

 2. You’ve graduated what next interviews


Usually you have done some menial jobs to get to this point. I know I did bar jobs, promotional jobs and worked in warehouses. After I graduated there was a gap in time where I had to go to a lot of interviews to get what most people would call a proper job (more about that in section 3). But you still had to live at this time and I was determined I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon. So I got a job in door to door sales. Thankfully my initial interview wasn’t too bad no one asked me to “Sell me this pen” like I know a lot of people have been asked. But they also were very mysterious about what the job was and what it actually entailed. I was very young and naive and thought it would be wonderful. Then on my second interview I got whisked away in a car to a suburban location to help sell door to door. I was very surprised but also it was fun and I could make a bit of money doing it.

 3. The graduate job interviews


The market is getting increasingly tough for graduates. In my opinion no one is guaranteed a job anymore. The graduate job interviews are hectic and quite cut throat as all the twenty somethings pile on top of each to get those one or two roles. An ex colleague of mine said that they went for an interview with a company that as usual had a kind of two-day marathon of tests/presentations/standard interviews/group presentations and group interviews. Then you get invited back for the second day. At the onset of this when they arrived they were greeted by a very professional looking chap that already new everyone by name and was already organising people into groups. My friend thought that this was obviously the organiser of the event and would be telling them the tasks they would be doing. It turned out that it was actually just another candidate.  

 4. The agency interview


A lot of these are done over the telephone these days but some will still insist on meeting you and making sure you look the part, have all the required identification and can stand up to a pre interview before you may be selected for an actual interview. Having worked in recruitment I’ve seen a lot of people turn up to these looking like they have just come in from a night out, stinking of alcohol and bleary eyed. I’ve seen people come in and say they have no Identification and just wanted to have a chat as they haven’t needed any before. But by far and the best one is coming to the recruiter who has jobs for you and saying they don’t believe in the process and they don’t want these jobs.

 5. The interview with internal candidates


At some point or another we have all been for an interview where you are up against one or two internal candidates that are already doing the job and for some ridiculous reason no one ever seems to mention this until your sitting either opposite them waiting to go into the interview or you’re in the interview and are told they have been interviewing internally. The excuse we are given is that they have to advertise the role externally as well. Well at least they could tell applicants upfront this is the case.

 6. The interview with a million tests


As per the graduate interviews above and with technical job interviews such as programmers there tends to be numerous tests that need to be completed. The technical roles I can understand it more. But I’ve never been a fan of psychometric and personality tests to help people determine if that candidate is a good fit for the role. Some of the tests can be so abstract that they take the candidates away from the focus of the role and interview. I can remember having to answer one which was. How would I build a utopian society? It was an essay question and at the time I was a straight forward thinking data analyst with numbers and excel spreadsheets in my head. Not surprisingly I don’t think I answered it very well.

 7. The very personal interview


Hopefully you have been lucky enough not to be asked rude or insulting questions in an interview. But some of us have been asked this. Or been subject to some inappropriate behaviour at some point in the interview. It’s not on and I don’t care if you own the business and you want to work with someone you can trust completely. An interview is not a time to delve into someone’s personal life and rip that person to shreds.

 8. The interview where all is not as it appears to be


As per number two. Sometimes an interview just isn’t what you think it was when you signed up for it. I have heard from too many candidates that have gone to an interview and then find out it is a sales job that they have been dreading when there was nothing in the job description, job advert, pre-screen telephone call or anything up to that point to suggest that it was a sales job. I also remember candidates that have gone into offices that have all been of one particular gender and found that really the interviewer and company is ideally looking for someone of that gender as well.

 9. The one where something always happens


Ever been in an interview where you’ve had to evacuate the building. I’ve seen this happen as I’ve been interviewing someone and also seen it happen to people going for an interview. Bad planning on the recruiter side if they know there is going to be a fire drill but if it’s a surprise what do you do. Sometimes these disturbances can work in the candidate’s favour. Other times it is just so off putting that they don’t really go through with the interview properly. I know someone that was left for nearly 45 minutes outside in a freezing cold corridor as the interviewer had not been told that they had arrived on time. They did get a cup of tea to bring them back to life.

 10. The one where you know the interviewer personally


Again this can be either a blessing or a curse depending on the relationship the candidate has/had with the interviewer. We have all heard the story of being interviewed by an ex-partner. This can be incredibly uncomfortable. But I know someone that was interviewed by someone they used to play football with and they just spoke about playing football and the teams they supported and playing fantasy sports games for half an hour and then they got the job so it can be a great advantage to know the interviewer personally.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.