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Community Champion

Worst job interview

So, someone over on Twitter asked, "What's the worst job interview you've ever had?"

 

And SO many bad memories came flooding back.

 

There was the time I was sitting in the waiting area, and realized the people I could hear over the divider were the HR person and the superior to this position, trying to figure out what to ask because they had no idea how to hire for this position.

 

The "what do you want to be when you grow up" question has been very popular for a while.  (Usually worded "where do you want to be in 5/10/15 years.")  In one interview the HR person worded it very strangely so that it was sort of like "what do you want to have done before you die."  (I told her that I knew it was the wrong answer, but I'd already done it: wrote my first book.)

 

I've had a few "panel" interviews, one where I was facing 15 inquisitors.  The job was in teaching, and somewhat remote, and one of the interviewers, noting I had some first aid background, asked what I would do if one of the kids got a "bad burn."  So I started to ask him to define the situation more precisely, and laid out about a dozen factors you'd need to consider.  He sat in silence for a few seconds and finally said, "Well, I guess you know what you're talking about ..."

 

I've had numerous job interviews where I've seen, in the interviewer's eyes, the exact moment I lost the job, generally over a single word or phrase, usually not related to the job at all.

 

I had one interview for a systems analyst position, where they wanted me to take a written test.  It was a Lotus 1-2-3 trivia quiz photocopied out of a computer magazine.  (I took one looked and walked out.)

 

(All in all, though, they were great training for what not to do when I came time for me to do the hiring ...)


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22 Replies
Community Champion

Re: Worst job interview

There's a new obstacle to landing a job after college: Getting approved by AI. What worries me about AI is AI can't tell the heart of a person and the drive a person has.

Contributor III

Re: Worst job interview

Had a few bad interviews.

 

Nothing approaching what I read on the twitter thread (people being drunk etc).  Usually just people be rude/stupid, giving me the run around for a position, etc.

 

One with a tech firm, the "technical recruiter" asked me several stupid questions.  Then asked me if I knew firewalls.  I don't, I've never worked with them, hence why no mention on my resume.  He then rejects me for the position after we've spoken for at least a half hour because the position requires firewall knowledge per the hiring manager.

 

Then I spoke to the person who got the role.  Whom I know.  The position didn't require firewall knowledge, it was all about risk.  Which I know pretty well.  Not sure why this guy brought that up just to get rid of me.

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Michael Brown, CISSP, HCISPP, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, GSLC, GSTRT, ISSA Fellow
Reader I

Re: Worst job interview

The most difficult interviews are those where the interviewer seems hypercritical and is overtly looking for a reason to reject the applicant.  Every word, every answer seems suspicious. They make me feel like I am in a police investigation. 

 

I realize people lie in this process, but I believe the general atmosphere should be trust. Bad interviews are where the atmosphere is mistrust. 

Contributor III

Re: Worst job interview


@10sneONE wrote:

The most difficult interviews are those where the interviewer seems hypercritical and is overtly looking for a reason to reject the applicant.  Every word, every answer seems suspicious. They make me feel like I am in a police investigation. 

 

I realize people lie in this process, but I believe the general atmosphere should be trust. Bad interviews are where the atmosphere is mistrust. 


Hmmm.  Something I've seen which I don't like is this attitude with many hiring managers that the candidate MUST have done EVERYTHING in their long laundry list of items.  Recruiters have told me that if you've done 80% of what they want, you're a good candidate, but so many hiring managers take this attitude that you need to have 100%.  And they seem to more focus on you have done everything vs are you capable of doing it.  I've been fortunate to have had some interesting experiences, but there are areas I've not have the opportunity to do, but am capable.

I look back at my past career and I got moved to new responsibilities because management saw that I was capable of doing something.  Often times they'd move me to a new position, I'd say "I haven't done this before" and they'd give me training.  Which I got, did well in the job, and this would repeat.  This is how you advance and have a career.

Now companies only want people who have had all the experiences they want, no gaps.  And then wonder why they can't fill positions...

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Michael Brown, CISSP, HCISPP, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, GSLC, GSTRT, ISSA Fellow
Community Champion

Re: Worst job interview

So I got hired without an interview once for an IT position. After I got there I found this out:

The lady doing the hiring said "We were hiring two people. We knew we were going to hire you based off your resume but we had to interview for the other slot. The candidate they hired was asked this question: What is a server? The person that got the job replied "The person who brings you the water at a restaurant?". 

That person was the most qualified of the rest of the candidates. Not joking.

She turned out to be a good worker, just had only done primarily data entry and not worked with actual IT servers.

 

I once sat on an interview panel. The interview lasted 8 minutes. There were FIVE questions asked. EIGHT minutes!!!! Needless to say the person did not get the job.

 

 

 

Newcomer I

Re: Worst job interview

I have been the hiring manager on a few bad interviews. One of the worst, was my fault.

 

I brought a young tech System Matter Expert in to help with the technology questions.  What i didn't know was that the SME was a very insecure jerk.  Every question he asked was way to detailed and was using the questions as a platform to show he was the smartest person in the room.  I felt bad of the interviewee, i tried to steer back to a general dialog, but my SME kept it in the weeds.  At the end of the interview, the candidate thanked me and let me know She was no longer interested in the position. 

 

The best interviews I have ever had, didn't feel like interviews at all.  They were a few people having an interesting conversation.  Those are the candidates I want to hire, and interviews I look forward to.

 

BTW:  the SME never came in an interview with me again. I learned enough about the tech to handle it myself. 

Contributor III

Re: Worst job interview


@cJAY wrote:

I have been the hiring manager on a few bad interviews. One of the worst, was my fault.

 

I brought a young tech System Matter Expert in to help with the technology questions.  What i didn't know was that the SME was a very insecure jerk.  Every question he asked was way to detailed and was using the questions as a platform to show he was the smartest person in the room.  I felt bad of the interviewee, i tried to steer back to a general dialog, but my SME kept it in the weeds.  At the end of the interview, the candidate thanked me and let me know She was no longer interested in the position. 

 

The best interviews I have ever had, didn't feel like interviews at all.  They were a few people having an interesting conversation.  Those are the candidates I want to hire, and interviews I look forward to.

 


I hate the interviews where they seem to want to focus on grilling me on my technical knowledge.  Especially on topics that I made clear I haven't worked on or with for several years.  I used to be a Unix admin early on my in career.  Like over a decade ago and haven't done anything with Unix since.  Why are you asking me Unix questions?  Especially when I'm NOT interviewing to be a Unix admin but an infosec manager.

I would prefer the conversational interviews when its more an open discussion on ideas and concepts.  Sadly, many of those I've had where at the end I thought things went well that am disappointed when I'm told they aren't moving me forward, they have better candidates, yada yada yada.  I start wondering if I somehow said the wrong things (or didn't say the right things) in the conversation and just didn't know.


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Michael Brown, CISSP, HCISPP, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, GSLC, GSTRT, ISSA Fellow
Newcomer II

Re: Worst job interview

This was not part of an interview but a discussion regarding hiring people for cyber security positions with someone who was in a position to hire staff.

 

The quote in the discussion that stuck out was "I won't hire anyone unless they've changed jobs every couple of years, they don't have enough exposure"

 

I've been at my place of employment for about 22 years, in two positions (three titles due to a job title change) with many job duties going well beyond what the job requires.

 

So I would never be employed by them because I didn't change jobs enough, even though the knowledge I have would far surpass most candidates.

Contributor III

Re: Worst job interview


@GerryS wrote:

This was not part of an interview but a discussion regarding hiring people for cyber security positions with someone who was in a position to hire staff.

 

The quote in the discussion that stuck out was "I won't hire anyone unless they've changed jobs every couple of years, they don't have enough exposure"

 

I've been at my place of employment for about 22 years, in two positions (three titles due to a job title change) with many job duties going well beyond what the job requires.

 

So I would never be employed by them because I didn't change jobs enough, even though the knowledge I have would far surpass most candidates.


Similar for me.

 

I was 17 years at the same employer.  Got 3 official titles due to promotions to higher pay grades, BUT have held different duties usually about every 3 years or so that increased my responsibilities.  I started out as a local sysadmin helping one group at the site I was at to, at the end, being a global security architect working for the CISO.

I actually put on my resume these many roles, as it shows my growth and development.

 

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Michael Brown, CISSP, HCISPP, CISA, CISM, CGEIT, CRISC, GSLC, GSTRT, ISSA Fellow