You all seemed to really enjoy the first time I did this, with my blog post: Why a Many Once Fell Asleep While Interviewing... And 3 other Outlandish Interview Experience, so here I am sharing four more bizarre interview experiences with you.
As you're reading these, just remember the moral of the story. I survived, they survived, and no matter how ridiculous or uncomfortable an interview gets, everything's going to be alright.
*Once again, to make this educational and not simply embarrassing, I’m going to formulate the stories as I recommend you formulate your interview answers, using the CAR method; context, action, result.
1. CNN MARATHON
Context: So you may remember from the previous installment, that two of my stories took place during an interview day at a university in North Miami. If you didn't read the last blog, that was the day where they all watched me peal a grapefruit with my bare hands, and also the day of the infamous, interview-panelist-falls-asleep mid-interview situation.
Guess what... there's more stories from that day. Including this gem.
Action: I arrived 15 minutes early for my interview (standard practice) and was instructed to have a seat on the couch in the lobby while they prepared for me. The lobby had a TV playing CNN (what is this, a dentist's office?) and I waited there for about 30 minutes, watching it until someone came and got me. After the first interview, they told me to wait on the couch until a tour guide arrived to show me around campus... which happened 45 minutes later. CNN count is now up to 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Result: I won't regale you with each account, but throughout the day, this happened several more times and within a total of 6 hours and 15 minutes on campus, I spent over 2 hours and 15 minutes sitting on that couch, watching CNN.
The next day, they offered me the job. I graciously declined.
2. WTH ARE GRITS?
Context: I flew to Ashville, North Carolina for a 2.5 day interview gauntlet with a lovely liberal arts university in the Appalachian Mountains. On the first night I was there, I was taken out to dinner by some very nice university staff to a local restaurant.
Action: We were all chatting and getting to know each other at the restaurant. It was nice. I think they liked me. At some point, I asked what they all liked at this restaurant and they started raving about the grits. Now, I'm not your average Canadian boy, I know a thing or two about "the South", but I had no idea what the hell grits were. However, wanting to show my willingness to trust in others, I ordered my meal with a side of "the grits".
Result: I quickly found out that grits are basically soggy corn mush. Imagine oatmeal (which I hate) but corn. It looked like grey sludge in a bowl. It tasted like oatmeal (again... gross), but damn it, if I didn't *grit/8 my teeth and slurp down the whole bowl. They were impressed, but in the end, I lost out on that job due to visa complications.
3. A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP
Context: I'm so sorry to do this... I'm sorry... We're going back to MIAMI!!! Same freakin' day as the CNN marathon, as the breakfast-for-one debacle, and of course, the man-falling-asleep-in-my-interview day.
This time, it's the end of the interview day and I'm meeting with my would-be supervisor to have the standard heart-to-heart, where they tell you all about their management style, the office culture, and basically give you a final pitch as to why you should work with them.
Action: The director I'm meeting with is a bit of a mess. He's a big reason that many of the events from earlier in the day have happened. He mentioned 3 times that he enjoys drinking at his students' events and now he's describing his management style. I'm going to "transcribe" what he said as best as I can remember (which is fairly well because I've told this story so many times).
"My management style... well, I'm like a bull in a china shop. I'll walk down the hall on a rampage. I'll poke my head in your door, tell you everything you're doing wrong and then just leave before you have a chance to react.
"If we're in a meeting, and you screwed up, I'll call you out in front of everyone. I won't mention you by name, but I'll describe everything you did and you'll know I'm talking about you. Later, you'll come to me a say, 'that stuff in the meeting was about me, right?' and I'll be like, 'you know it!'"
Result: The crazy part about this rant was that he really seemed to think these were major selling points and that people would be excited to work in this kind of environment. Here's the thing though... I was not.
4. READY, SET, GO!
Context: I don't normally like to poke fun in situations in which I am the interviewer, mostly because when you're in a position of authority, it just doesn't feel right. This one; for some reason, feels okay.
I was fulfilling my phone screening responsibilities as a member of the graduate assistant recruitment committee during grad school and I was about two dozen phone interviews deep when this lovely situation occurred.
Action: I was speaking to a young man about his undergraduate experience when I noticed him breathing irregularly. I assumed this was just nerves (totally natural) and didn't acknowledge it. Then, the breathing got heavier and his answers started getting shorter and less coherent... then the phone cut out.
Result: The guy called me back and I had to ask him what was going on. He apolgized and told me that he lost me when he ran through a building that had bad reception. I asked what he meant by running and he told me he had been running around his campus trying to find a quiet place to do the interview.
This man did not advance past the phone screen phase. Find a quiet place to do your phone interviews before they begin, people!