I know this headline sounds bad. I promise, I did not bore anyone to sleep. However, in light of the upcoming April Fool’s Day (which is my Birthday, FYI), I thought it might be fun to revisit some of my most awkward and outlandish interview experiences.
My hope in writing this is that you will realize that interviews can be unpredictable and weird. And that no matter what happens, you will get through it.
To make sure this educational, as well as entertaining, I’m going to formulate the stories as I recommend you formulate your interview answers, using the CAR method; context, action, result.
1. A Fly on the Wall
Context: I was interviewing for a graduate assistant position in a university’s civic engagement office and I was being interviewed by two young men immediately after eating a big lunch.
Action: About 15 minutes into the interview, one of my interviewer’s attention was drawn away from me by a fly buzzing harmlessly around the corner of the room. He watched the fly intently for several minutes, seeming to entirely forget I was there.
After a couple minutes watching the fly, he stood up and started following it around the room. At this point I stopped talking and just watched. Then, in a flash, the man picked up a file folder and swatted the fly to death. He then apologized and we resumed the interview.
Result: I took a graduate assistantship in a different office at that same university, and the fly swatter later became my gym buddy. He never swatted me once.
2. Breakfast Anyone?
Context: I was interviewing for a full-time position as Student Activities Coordinator at a small university in Miami. I had a full day of interviews on their campus, starting with a group breakfast. Normally, these breakfasts are light-hearted conversations over a shared meal to warm everyone up before the interview; however…
Action: The “breakfast” they presented was a cafeteria tray of cold hash browns, bacon and some fruit, assumedly leftover from breakfast served to students, hours earlier. I filled my plate with as little as I could without being rude. Then, as I sat down with my interviewers, I realized that I was the only one with any food. They had “already ate”.
So as they sat watching me struggle to peel a grapefruit with my bare hands, the interviewers pulled out notepads and started asking me full-on interview questions! I understand that multitasking is important; however, but I had never felt so awkward in my life.
Result: They must have admired my grit for dealing with the situation, because they did offer me the job. However, due to the breakfast incident, along with item number four on this list, I had to decline the offer.
3. With Arms Wide Open
Context: I was at an interview conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, interviewing with 10 different universities, looking for potential graduate assistantships. My second interview was with two lovely people from the Residence Life office at the University of Kansas.
Action: One of the interviewers was sitting with her legs crossed throughout the interview. Little did she know, by the end of the interview, one of those legs had fallen asleep. The interview was in a small room with no desk between the interviewers and myself, so as this women stood to shake my hand, she immediately toppled forward into my outstretched arms. Luckily, I was able to catch her and no one was injured in the process.
Result: My act of heroism was not enough to overcome my lack of Residence Life experience, and I did not advance with the University of Kansas.
4. Wakey, Wakey!
Context: We’re back in Miami. Only an hour or so after the breakfast incident. I’m sitting down to interview with a panel of 10 of my "would-be" peers. I know what you’re thinking, “10 people is too many for an interview panel,” apparently one man on the panel agreed…
Action: I swear the other 9 people on the panel were deeply enthralled with my interview. But one guy just wasn’t feeling it.
He was wearing jeans and a hoodie… and he was wearing the hood… over his head. He was sitting less than 5 feet away from me. He wasn’t at the other side of the room, he was more-or-less right next to me. And about 20 minutes in, I just notice his head start nodding, and his eyes start drooping.
I kept it as professional as possible, answering questions, and smiling, but I couldn’t stop watching as this guy peacefully drifted into dreamland before my eyes. He would occasionally wake up and start smiling and nodding as if I couldn’t see his chin repeatedly fall down to his chest and his eyes fall shut.
Result: I got through the interview, thrilled to have this story to tell, and as I mentioned in story two, I did not accept when they offered me the job.
I have lots more of these ridiculous interview stories, including a time a guy was running during a phone interview, and a potential supervisor who bragged about his “bull-in-a-china-shop” management style. I will save those, for another time.
Good luck with your interviews out there people!