10 More Ways to Bomb an Interview

Over at Employment Digest, there's a post called The top 10 ways to bomb a job interview, aimed at candidates. But hiring managers and HR folks can be just as likely to bomb an interview. Here are my favorite ways:

  1. Change your toddler's diaper while interviewing a candidate. Yes, this happened to me early in my career. The hiring manager changed the poopy diaper during our interview. I like casual workplaces, but that was too much for me. (No, I was not a parent yet.)
  2. Interview a candidate in the lobby. The lobby might have been ok, but the traffic level and the interruption level was quite high.
  3. Interview a candidate in the stairwell. Yes, I sat on concrete stairs in an unheated stairwell, wearing a nice suit when it was below freezing outside. I was shivering about 10 minutes into the interview. When I asked to move someplace inside, my interviewer said, “I can warm you up,” and proceeded to hug me from the side. Ooh ick. (I extracted myself and ended the interview shortly.)
  4. When the HR manager starts negotiating about salary and the candidate doesn't even know if he or she wants the job. One of my interviews started with the HR manager. The HR manager must have been under orders to keep salaries down. The first thing he said was, “You make too much money.” I said, “Not yet. I'm looking for a raise from you if I come to work here.” The conversation went downhill quickly. I left and called the hiring manager from reception, explaining I was leaving. He convinced me to wait 5 minutes, but it was hard to take anything seriously from those folks.
  5. Use a panel interview to interview an extrovert. I do love to speak, so when a group of 6 people tried to interview me in one hour, I took control of the interview. I had a blast. I don't think they learned anything, but I sure did. I interviewed them.
  6. Ask the candidate to sit in an uncomfortable or short chair. One hiring manager kept a short chair in his office, for other people to feel uncomfortable in, because they had to look up. I'm five feet tall; I look up at everyone. I complimented him on his choice of chairs and I thought he was going to have a stroke. (I actually meant it.) I've sat on lab chairs (good luck doing that in a skirt), and plenty of chairs that were too high.
  7. Take the candidate on a walk around the facility without warning that you'll be going through manufacturing areas. Back in the days I wore nice suits and shoes, one hiring manager decided to take me on a plant tour. I was not dressed for the tour, and requested we postpone it. “But we always take people on a plant tour the first interview.” “But I'm not wearing the right kind of shoes. I'll destroy my shoes if I walk in here.” “What's more important, the right job or your shoes?” “A manager who cares about my safety.” I left.
  8. Invite a candidate to interview from 9:30-2:30 and ignore lunch. At 1:15, I asked the current interviewer what the story was about lunch, and he said, “That's not my job.” I suggested we talk while I got a sandwich from the cafeteria. He looked worried. “Don't worry; I'll pay.” I did, but decided these folks were too flaky.
  9. Making a candidate wait for your staff to interview. I agreed to an 8am interview, because that's when the interviewers could start. I arrived at 7:50, and ended up waiting until 8:45, because no one came into work that early.
  10. Making a candidate wait in the hall until the receptionist arrives. Same interview as above, but not only weren't the interviewers in at work, neither was the receptionist.

Have any more good bombs to share?

Labels: interview

8 Replies to “10 More Ways to Bomb an Interview”

  1. My favorite was the one guy who said he had all these great ideas for how to build the business, but was going to sit on them until his divorce was finalized.
    Umm … yeah. You sure sound trustworthy.

  2. I once interviewed at a company where one of the team members had a pin-up from a men’s maazine on his wall…

  3. Once a manager asked me “What have you done last Saturday?”. I answered “I went to a cousin’s funeral”. Without any hesitation he asked “What about Sunday?”.
    I promptly left the interview left without answering.

  4. i once waited an hour standing beside the boss’s chair while he and all the other employees (it was a very small company) played a video game. i had an appointment for a specific time, but he didn’t seem to care about that. my price went up for every minute i waited. needless to say, after an hour, it was more than he was willing to pay.

  5. I was once asked whether I had children, and in the same breath informed that ‘A woman with kids could not possibly do this job’. I did not have kids, but decided that was too much chauvinism to deal with.

  6. I once interviewed with an analyst firm that asked me to come in 8 separate times to interview (once at 6:30 am) and when they offered me the job, the president refused to name a price, stating only that he would do the right thing by me. No thanks!

  7. I went to this interview today…after waiting for 30 mins, the receptionist told me if could come back the next day. As it turned out the interviewer was off-site. Should I attend the interview?

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