My worst interview was actually a callback. A light bulb manufacturing company wanted a professional writer to create their company catalog and newsletter and were looking to keep someone in-house. Not exactly the dream job of a writer, but it was a job. I wouldn’t say I hit a home run on the initial interview, but I hit a solid double, no need to slide into second.
The second interview was far less successful. Not to mix metaphors, but it was a gutterball.
Never Own a Dark Navy Suit
I pressed my clothes the night before and hung them up neatly in the closet. Just like a big boy. What I didn’t notice is that I had pressed a black jacket and navy trousers. Hard to see in dim lighting. It wasn’t normal navy but really dark navy. Since I dressed myself at five in the morning, before my first cup of coffee, I didn’t even notice the difference. In fact, I didn’t notice until the middle of the interview, when I looked down under the fluorescent lighting and saw the real color. By then it didn’t matter. I had already bombed the interview.
Being Interviewed by a Jerk
To this day, I am not sure he actually had any intention of hiring me. Maybe it was the suit? As soon as I sat down in the conference room across from the company’s owner, I knew it wasn’t going to go well. At the time it was a backhand to my professional ego. Now, I am pretty sure the guy was just a jerk.
The owner had my portfolio in his hairy little hand. He knew I could write. He knew I understood Adobe Pagemaker (that was before Adobe InDesign, for you young’uns) and could easily create a newsletter or catalog. He asked me how much I was looking to make and I said $30,000. That’s a pittance, but I didn’t know better. I was 25. To him, I should have looked ripe. Cheap and efficient.
“So how would you write an article?” he asked me. I remember that question very clearly. It’s like asking a cook “So how would you bake a cake?” What kind of cake? What’s it for? How quickly do you need it? What kind of cake do you prefer? His vague question dangled in the air for a couple beats as I tried to concoct a stellar example quickly. I didn’t.
Instead, seconds passed before I stammered out an example of a feature on an employee that might be having a child. A safe and, I thought, easy example. Nice fluff for a fluffy newsletter. Apparently my explanation wasn’t satisfactory. He narrowed his eyes and nodded his head slowly, not even bothering to hide disgust. He assessed me like a bug on a needle. I can’t remember exactly what I said because I only remember that look. A few minutes later and the interview was over.
The Bad Interview Was Mostly My Fault
I am an adult, so I know it was my fault. Mostly. I should have been better prepared with knowledge of the company. I should have drafted some sample product descriptions to share. I should have double-checked my suit (I now refuse to wear navy suits or socks). I should not have downed two cups of coffee before the interview. I should have, I should not have…
Honestly, what I really should have done was told the guy to kiss my butt (using slightly different wording) for wasting my time and gas driving to his hole-in-the-wall business. And then followed it up with a sugary-sweet thank you note. I am an adult so I didn’t do that. But I should have.