Interview Preparation Horror Stories

Last night was Halloween, so it's only appropriate that we talk about scary things in this blog post.

As a college senior nearing your last set of Fall semester finals, what's the scariest thing that you can think of happening this school year? Maybe you're thinking "what if I fail a class?" which is short-term scary, but I can do you one better: What if you can't find a job? What happens then?

Last month, Barbara Sucoff shared with us her 4 step interview prep process and in each post she explains why that particular step is just as critical as the others. Skipping a step can cause you to lose the job.

Read on for real-life scary stories where one interview prep step was skipped, and thus so was the candidate. The silver lining in reading these examples is that you can prevent them from happening to you. BE PREPARED!

Pre-Interview Steps 1 and 2: Get Ready and Set - or else

Remember: "It's the foundation.  You can have a great interview, but if I look at your resume and it's filled with typos, formatting errors, etc. game over."

Two years ago I was managing a customer support team which meant screening candidates and hiring was all on me. For one open position I received more than ten resumes per day, and on top of that I had a team of eleven to attend to so the time allotted to these resume screens was minimal.

There were a number of resumes I passed over due to a qualification mismatch, but one resume in particular still stands out in my memory and not in a good way: it was a four page resume typed in script font, and riddled with formatting errors. By simply browsing it I saw different bullet styles, different font sizes, the fact that it was in script font was a deterrent in itself; I didn't even read it.

I have no idea if that person had the most relevant experience because I couldn't justify spending my time on a resume that showed carelessness. Don't be that resume.

Feeling a little scared? Review Step 1: Get Ready and Review Step 2: Get Set


Day-of Step 3: Go! - or else

Remember: Your interview starts the second you pull into the building. 

This story takes place at a hotel. The hiring company had satellite offices and would use local hotel conference rooms for interviews to make it more convenient for the candidates.

The candidate arrived to the hotel - most likely was nervous, perhaps tense from having been in traffic, neither of which are excuses - and approached the front desk.

Instead of a smile and greeting; he was rude to those at the front desk, acted superior and proceeded to interrupt the concierge who was on the phone with a customer.

Little did he know, the company had a great relationship with the hotel from using the conference rooms so frequently. Even though the concierge was not an employee at the company he interviewed for, he felt comfortable expressing to the hiring manager how the candidate had treated the front desk employees upon his arrival for the interview.

And guess what? That behavior reflects on how the candidate would have treated co-workers and potentially customers. The candidate did not get hired. 

Feeling concerned that this could be you? Review Step 3: Go!


The Aftermath Step 4: Follow up - or else

Remember: How you conduct yourself in this process is sharing a tremendous amount of info with the interviewer about how you're going to conduct yourself in business.

Julie managed the content marketing team for a food product company. Her hiring process involved a phone screen and an in-person interview. The in-person interview included a series of meetings with 2-3 existing members of the team, and then her, the hiring manager.

There was one candidate who stood out from the beginning: stellar resume, articulate and friendly on the phone, personable, thoughtful, and put together during the in-person interview. The other three members of the team felt the same; get her hired!

The next day Julie saw a thank you email enter her inbox from the candidate. She smiled because it confirmed what she expected of this candidate.  She was ready to start the paperwork and extend an offer when she opened the email:

The dark purple text read, "Good morning, Cameron"

… Damn. Talk about disappointment. Cameron is another member of Julie's team who also met with the candidate the day prior. Instead of sending personalized thank you notes, the candidate had copy/pasted the text from Cameron's email. Including Cameron's name.

Content marketing requires significant attention to nuance and detail. No way could Julie justify hiring someone who couldn't take an extra 3 minutes to write a personalized email and double check her writing.

Candidate, denied.

Nervous about your next steps? Review Step 4: Follow up

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