My Worst Job Interviews Ever

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash


Let me start off by saying when you are not a natural public speaker and you struggle with self-esteem, interviews can be a killer. I have watched more outgoing and less qualified people talk their way into jobs that those who knew them knew they were NEVER going to keep, while I was getting turned down by Waffle House and KFC. It was so frustrating!

So without further ado here goes:

1. Kentucky Fried Screw-Up- It was November of my junior year and my mom was pushing me to get a job. Now, I was about the shyest thing since baby Bambi, so it was pretty traumatic. "Just say you are looking for holiday work. Everyone needs to hire more people for the holidays," my much more outgoing mom told me. Embarrassed I dressed up (because Mom) and headed into nearby fastfood restaurants to apply.
I filled out the application at Kentucky Fried Chicken and the manager behind the counter asked what I was looking for. "Um, holiday work?" saying what my mom had told me. The assistant manager chuckled and said, "We don't hire for that." Meanwhile a boy from my year at school was working and I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

2. Waffle House. I had waitressing experience and yet somehow I could not get hired at the Waffle House. I don't really remember the details other than the north side one interviewed me and suggested I try the one a few miles away. The south side one stuck her nose in the air and made it clear I wasn't what they were looking for. Too old? I was 27. Too young? I don't know. Too fat? I was about 145. Not chatty enough? Most likely.

3. Division of Family Services-Senior division. I was sitting on a psychology degree, not really relishing the idea of getting a masters. I had been in a few master's programs because the ultimate goal for anyone who loved college was to become a professor, right?, but nothing was really calling out to me enough to put that much work into it, and whenever I tried science (the Master's of Geosciences was calling to me), my self-esteem issues got in the way.  I decided to try being a social service worker. I went into the interview so nervous. I was literally sweating all over the place. My hands sweating were a given, this was prior to learning how to stop the hand sweat. However, I had sweat dripping down my back, across my upper lip-it was awful. They actually told me to just relax. I didn't get the job shockingly. They were super nice, though.

4. Another social servicy job. This was at the food stamp office. I had some doubts about the interview time, as I was excited and nervous when they called, but I was too embarrassed to call back so I thought it through and thought I had it right. I went to the interview and they called me up. They asked me questions and talked about what a responsible, organized, and punctual person was, how I kept track of records by writing things down, and juggling appointment times would be not trouble. Then one lady cocked her head to the side and asked,  Why then, had I been ten minutes late to the interview? I was mortified.
They didn't hire me and I am glad. I would have been good at it and trapped in it forever most likely.

5. A teaching job.  I had been working at Greenfield which, while I loved the little kids, wasn't quite what I wanted long term.  It was literally an hour's drive each way.
I was interviewing for a school district which was only 30 minutes away. It was a science position and I felt reasonably confident in by ability to handle middle school science. In the middle of the interview, the principal looked me in the eye and said, "Define loyalty." She was so hostile about it I knew I was trapped. She wanted someone who would stick out the position for several years, I think. Fair enough. But her hostility had me tongue-tied. Clearly I was interviewing for this position from another school (and people do this all the time. People change jobs and look for something closer to their calling ALL THE TIME. IT IS OKAY). The other interviewers looked embarrassed and looked down at the table. And I knew, I sure as heck did NOT want to work at that school. The position was open again the next year, by the way.



Those were my worst interviews. I am sure there are other moments I may have forgotten, like the time I interviewed for a seventh grade social studies job that I REALLLLLLLY wanted and said, "Y'all" when when answering a question.

Or the time when an assistant principal called me to set up a phone interview for a time I had had tickets for over a month to see a movie with my daughters. I didn't handle it well, and then mortified called her back and left a message to go ahead and do it. I sat in the summer-hot car in a parking garage outside the theatre with the windows rolled up in fear of getting robbed. I was definitely sweating. I did get the job, but I don't think I was their first choice.

Well...they say it is good to get uncomfortable and step outside your comfort zone. Noone can argue I haven't done that, right? And I think all these embarrassing moments and all these mistakes are just an indicator to not give up. Go on your interviews, answer their questions thoughtfully, and then adjust your answers accordingly at the next interview. At first this may seem dishonest, but it really isn't. Just as I was unwilling to promise I would stay at a school a certain amount of time (beyond the contract), I also found the the act of changing my answers also changed how I viewed the job and approached the question. For example, if I said I was perfectly comfortable calling parents, well, then I was making phone calls to parents without complaint. If I said the office was a last resort, then I was promising the office would be a last resort. Changing your answers to fit the interview isn't really a lie. It is a learning experience about what the job expectations were and your willingess to meet those expectations.


Man, if I didn't believe in growth mindset before, I sure do now!

Enjoy learning!

Jillian






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2 comments

  1. I once told a interviewer I have a disease. He asked is it contagious I said no I am bibolar.

    ReplyDelete

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