Friday, June 19, 2009

Your Turn

Earlier this week I got this Your Turn suggestion from a reader named Susan, and then as luck would have it someone told me a great story about the very topic. What is the topic you say? Job interviews. In this economy there are lots of people out looking for work and I am sure have some great job interview stories. If you don't have one of those, then how about a great story about something that happened at work. Everyone has a work story.

35 comments:

Christine said...

Great interview story: On hte phone (across country) while I was in school, the potential boss started off the interview with "So I've never heard of you and I don't know anything about your school - tell me something." (Didn't get the job)

Great work story - a kindness. I was pregnant, and ended up having my son 7 weeks early. He had a lot of medical issues we didn't know about. My 9 week leave (that was paid with saved up vacation) turned into 17 weeks. My coworkers - without me even asking or suggesting or talking about it -donated their own paid vacation time to me so that I could stay home with my baby and be there during his surgeries. Obviously, I'm never leaving this job.

silenttype said...

I had to interview the wife of a co-worker for a job. Sweetest little Chinese lady in the world and absolutely no skills for this job. I throw her softball after softball and she keeps missing. Suddenly she starts crying and saying how I am not going to hire her. Only time I moved my chair next to another and gave them kleenexes and telling them it would be all right. I told company to take a pass and did not share why. Of course they hired her anyhow.

Dijea said...

I wish I could tell the whole story, but as my real name is on here I can't. But to make a point. I basically made a woman who was trying to make herself look superior to me that she was dumb and didn't know what she was talking about. It worked too - totally embarassed her. She's my boss now.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

Years ago, I was subjected to a team interview where I was questioned by three people for a job in the publications department of an engineering company. One woman made political wisecracks throughout the interview and another guy wore a Mickey Mouse tie. Didn't get the job, didn't want it...

Nutty_Flavor said...

I absolutely loathe - loathe my current boss. I'm a single mom and we're in the middle of a recession, but I hate her so much I'm thinking about looking for something else.

Lisa (original) said...

Awww Christine, you made me tear up! That was so sweet of them!

My story: I was working as a lab tech making prescription eyewear. From this lab you could see the entire sales floor. I'm watching my boss working with a customer trying on frames. This customer was a veeeeery large lady with a butt that stuck out so far that she would need to watch out turning around. My boss comes into the lab, stands next to me and is tinting some lenses, I say to her " WOW, that lady your helping has an ass you could set a tea tray on!" Without missing a beat, my boss says "Um, yeah, that's my mom." Once I collected my jaw from the floor, I felt thissmall. Boss lady was totally cool about it though, and tried to make me quit apologizing profusely by laughing it off and saying "It's okay, our family always tells her she's got the butt of a horse!" I felt so much shame all day regardless. Lesson learned!

Jennifer said...

Funny work story... When I worked in corporate America a friend of mine changed my auto-correct on MS Word. So every time I wrote my companie's name - it was replaced with "bukake".

I submitted a document to my boss with "bukake" written all over it. Luckily she just laughed (she didn't know what it meant).

Moral of the story: ALWAYS lock your computer when you leave.

Jasmine said...

well, seeing as how i'm about to be unemployed soon (getting laid off in a few weeks), hopefully i will have some good interview stories coming up.
other interview stories i have from past jobs: i literally started to choke from a dry throat because the office we were in had a broken air-conditioner and no windows in the middle of summer. the manager who was interviewing me kindly suggested we take our interview to a nearby coffee shop to finish it and it ended up turning into a discussion of random topics. got the job actually.
other one: went 4 interviews in, all with different people. thought i had closed the deal. 2 weeks after the final interview, still heard NOTHING. finally had to call and track down the recruiter and left a message with her. got a call back during lunch at an El pollo loco and nearly choked on my burrito when she said "oh, we decided to go with another candidate". b*tch. i knew the other candidate too and my experience far outweighed hers too...recall seeing that same person in tears the day of her 2nd interview because she thought she messed it up so badly. still don't know the real reason why i didn't get the job.

Jennifer said...

whoops. "company's" name.

diatribes and dish said...

I just got done telling my bosses that I'm pregnant. I'm not too sure how they took my request for maternity leave; I guess time will tell. Not a great story, just a timely one.

d said...

Jennifer - thanks for the workplace prank tip, I'll be sure to use it on someone :)

Unbalanced said...

Oh this is a good topic, I'm in for the comments for sure!

Cheryl said...

happy ending: Headmistress of a fancy private school called me for an interview. Problem is I was on a post-graduation trip to Europe. My dad gives me the phone number the second I get home 3 weeks later. I called and eventually got the job. She said that my dad convinced her to hold the job open for me and not make any decisions until she talked to me.

Bad ending: I had an interview at a school for court stenographers. The job was head of admissions. I answered every question with lots of details and specifics. After a while the interviewer started yelling at me and calling me a liar. She said that no one is that smart and called me a phony. She then sat and stared at me for a good five minutes until I finally got up and left. WEIRD!

Kim said...

I had moved back home after living on the other side of the country and needed a job. Applied for one I was totally qualified for at a big accounting firm. Didn't get it. Got a call a month or so later from the accounting firm's HR person asking me to come in and interview for a job I was not even remotely qualified for. Despite my better judgement I went and was asked if I was pregnant or had any plans to get pregnant as their last two hires had gotten knocked up shortly after they started and weren't interested in coming back. In Canada you can't legally ask these questions during a job interview and I was shocked that they did. Smartass that I am (plus I didn't want the job) I told them that as I was not currently in a relationship and it was unlikely I'd be chosen to be the mother of the next Messiah. Needless to say I didn't make it to the next round.

Johnny said...

Over the years, I've had a lot of job interviews, but several years ago, I had one like nothing I had ever experienced. I was interviewing with the VP of Marketing for a Marketing Manager position with a national telecom --before the big telecom bust. First, he was an hour late to the interview....Those 3 martini lunches can be a killer. Once he made it in, the interview started off normal enough with him asking me to tell him a little about myself. Then he started asking me questions, such as on a scale of 1 to 10 how would I rate him at empathizing with his employees; what kind of car did he drive;what did his house look like, what part of the metro area did he live. The questions went on and on. For the next hour or so he proceeded to talk about himself and spoke very little about the job. Apparently, I gave the right answers though because I got the job. He only lasted a couple of years and the last I heard he was teaching GED classes to high school drop outs.

AnonMom said...

Christine - you are a very lucky, lady!

Ok, here goes - worst job interview EVER. EVAH!

It's 2000, in the SF Bay Area, the tech bubble has just burst, and I am working at a business radio station that is about to go out of business. I'm looking for jobs like crazy, and stumble upon what seems like a fabulous marketing job.

I'm called for an interview, call in sick with a stomach ache, get all kinds of dolled up in my best business attire, and go to a shady looking office building where apparently there are about 1000 other applicants. There's club music booming, I sit through a 5 minute interview, and then am told that I was selected to go out into the "field" with another associate.

They wouldn't tell me where the "field" was, but I so stupidly get into the car with the associate and it's only until we're about 30 minutes away she tells me it's basically a door-to-door salesperson kind of gig.

I really, really shouldn't have gotten into the car in the first place, but at that point, I tell her ... you know what, this isn't what I thought it was, leave me here, and I'll find my way back home.

Here was in the boonies, unfortunately, and it took me 3 bus rides, two BART rides, and taxi, and hours upon hours to get home.

Dumb, dumb, DUMB!

nichole said...

I don't have a great interview story, but I have a great job story. I used to work in student housing and one of my jobs was at an urban institution in a major city. One of my residents had set up a lovely little business dealing drugs out of his first floor window. This wasn't a little pot here and there to college kids, this was a full on cocaine selling deal. We eventually set up a sting operation with the local police and he was arrested (not to mention dismissed from housing).

c said...

I work in a building very, very close to the Clinton Library that has attached parking. The day the library was to be dedicated by all the dignitaries was also the first day of hunting season in our fair state. Soooo, everyone who worked in building got an email reminding them NOT to bring their guns to work in hopes of leaving them in their cars or trucks and take off after work for hunting. There were to be NO guns within the secured area including our building. Still had some people who tried to do it any how!

Green Wave Gal said...

Work Story: My first real job (I was 23 right after my first trip to grad school) was as a coordinator for a PhD program in a medical school. My first day on the job, my phone rings and it's a (seemingly) elderly man telling me that he and his wife want to donate their bodies to science. I ask him politely to hold on and I internally FREAK OUT. I run to my manager and ask her for help and she says very nonchalantly..."oh yeah, your phone number used to belong to the Willed Body Program which is now next door. Tell him to call Henry, etc...". So I give the man the number and transfer his call. I hang up and wonder what the hell have I gotten myself into!?! It turns out that Henry wound up as one of the ringleaders in a black market body parts scheme and is now in prison. The Willed Body Program was shut down for awhile.

Same job: One of the Graduate Deans was on our faculty and he taught Gross Anatomy to Medical and Dental students. People from the Dean's Office would call me a lot to try to find him when he was in the gross anatomy lab. Well one day they called and they needed him immediately. I walked down like 2-3 doors where the lab was and the doors were closed (of course) and I didn't want to go in! So I knocked and nothing...knocked again louder. One of the students came out and there was another student holding open the internal set of doors, so I got my first (& only) glimpse of a cadaver! YUCK!

Last one, Same job: One day, I walked out of the office to go to the restroom and there's an AWFUL smell in the hallway. I gagged and went right back into the office. A little while later, we get an e-mail telling us all to go home immediately. Apparently, the fans/exhaust in the aforementiond Gross Anatomy lab malfunctioned and were blowing that air into the main hallways! As I was leaving I saw Henry again (before his life of crime) and he said (rather gleefully) "you know what that smell is, it's rotting flesh".

It was a crazy job!

Syko said...

Not really an interview story, but I had a two week temp job coming and the current person on the job wanted me to spend an afternoon with her and learn the routine - it was a sole practitioner lawyer with one assistant and she wrote the checks, kept the books, etc. So I dressed in a nice pantsuit. I'd lost a lot of weight and didn't even have to unzip the pants, just pulled them on.

So I am sitting there trying to act intelligent and gung-ho, and laid my hand on my knee and sort of rubbed it down the side of the pants and realized I had a huge seam sticking up all the way down both sides of the pants, I'd put them on inside out.

They never seemed to notice, it was a very pleasant two week assignment with a nice lawyer, with the holidays falling in the middle of it, and he even gave me a $100 Christmas bonus.

Pookie said...
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Pookie said...
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Marisa said...

When I first got to NYC, I had an interview with an editor at People Magazine. One of the editors is related to my in-laws and she did the bare minimum of doing me a favor.

When I got there, I was kept waiting for over an hour. Once I finally got to sit down with the editor, she looked at my resume and said "what are you doing here? you need at least 3-5 years experience in magazines to be an editorial assistant here." I did my best to explain I'd spit-shine their shoes for the next 3 years, but she was a total asshole, much like the in-laws. I made it to the lobby before I called my mom crying. Fuck People.

ali said...

We have a game for interviews - whenever we're interviewing administrative assistants at work, we give the interviewer a word or phrase that they're required to find a way to work into the interview. I think the hardest one was Lake Titicaca. How you can use that in an interview for a job in a financial services company, I have no idea.....

Harriet Hellfire said...

Three words: STAR Interviewiing Technique. Look it up. I'd like to add that they use this at my current workplace, and I interviewed three times for my current position.

califblondy said...

I had a crazy and hilarious attorney for a boss and I adored loved him. My gift for Christmas was a pet rat with a card attached saying "Merry F*cking Christmas." How sweet was that? He loved to work late hours and back then he would write out briefs in long-hand and then I would type 'em up. We went along like that page by page and of course most of the time I'd just be sitting at my desk waiting for the next page. We were on the second floor and had the windows open late one night when I smelled something coming from my boss's office. One of the other attorneys said to me "Do you smell marijuana?" I played dumb. My boss delivered the next page with red eyes and a big grin.

To this day he's still my all-time favorite boss.

jax said...

well in 2004 i was unemployed after working for a compnay being investigated by the DEA for drug trafficking and money laundering. the market sucked and i was desperate so i started to worry i'd never be employed again. my friends decided to surprise me with special brownies and a trip to the lake for the weekend.

that sounded like agreat idea until saturday on our way about 30mins out of town i get a call on my cell for an interview.
that day.

i showed up high as a freaking kite, charmed my way through several questions when the conversation turned personal.
i cracked a joke and we both laughed heartily to the point where i raised my hand and said
"High five on that!"

i fuckin high fived in an interview!

and on June 28 it will be my 5 year anniversary of working here.

DNfromMN said...

I'd had 2 phone interviews with this company, and I get a call - "I've got bad news, and a little bit of good news. The bad news is, I can only bring 3 people in for in person interviews. The good news is, you are my 4th option so any of them aren't interested you're coming in." It felt good at the time, but it burned a little. It was one of those if you don't have experience you'll never be hired, but there's no way to get experience kinds of jobs.

mazemerizing said...
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mazemerizing said...

I've done this twice already but something was up with Blogger. If all three come up at some point, then I apologize. Anyway:

I once interviewed with this guy to be his assistant on an autobiographical movie he was making. Had to watch a 15 minute video about his Mafia past. In the interview he went over that again, his jail time, as well as his big claim to fame, his extra-large peen, which he pointed at and which looked like a rolled up sock in his pants. Movie was never made. He later got into a fight and lawsuit with Geraldo, dissed by the Mafia and indicted by the Feds on an insurance scam. He tried to be a nice guy in the interview, really, besides the sock thing and his complete self-absorption, but, you know, Hollywood.

mygeorgie said...

@ Ali, re "Lake Titicaca". If I'm understanding you correctly, you make the person being interviewed for already bullshit postions as admin assitant, work shit like THAT into the interview? You guys suck, big time. Power trip & ego much?

I've had 2 presidents of companies interview me over the years, both men. One as recent as 4 years ago. They both asked if I was married, followed up with, "Good. So you aren't the bread winner." (hello, shitty pay coming your way) That glass ceiling hits you in the ass right up front sometimes. Arrogant assholes.

sassafrass said...

I have 2 to share, both in my Hall of Bad Situations diary.

1. I went to an interview at a very high profile corporation. Very qualified for the position and well prepared for the interview like I always am for an interview. The first couple interviews went well, then my third guy walks in and chucks the standards packact of info to the side and says "these questions are bullshit, let me ask some real questions". He went on to talk shit about the company and how he had been wrong and it was a total waste to want to work there. I was red in the face not from embarrassment, but my studious preparation did not prepare me for this situation. I withdrew myself from candidacy because I would have reported to him. Fucker.

2. I got an interview with a preemo company that I was a total match for. I phoned interviewed and they flew my out for face to face interviews. The two I interviewed with were all for me and the in person was just a formality as I basically had the job.

I got there and was interviewing just fine then all of a suden, Big Bad Bertha walked in. She pushed away from the table to look at my shoes (which were very nice, conservative, and I was not fidgeting at all), then a knock on the door. She ordered lunch and had it delivered. Enough lunch for the three interviewers. She asked one question with a full mouth and the other two that invited me were blushing with embarrassment. I didn't get the job, but the guy that invited my out said he was ready to take the manager position after Bertha and he would offer me the position in the future.


Oh, Harriet. I am very familiar with STAR. Situation. Task. Action. Result. I actually keep that question packet around (I stole it from the pharma company I used to work for) to prepare for interviews because it does help to talk big shit. Most interviews I have been to use similar formats and questions.

Jax, that is very funny. Being stoned and high fiving during an interview is a dream for some folks.

shakey said...

The company I've worked for for 5 years now (grab a drink, it's long):

I get a phone call after sending in my cv about a month before. I had a temp job at the time, so my husband tells her I'm at work. I called from my work and she did a very short interview. I explained this was just a temp job and I could leave when I want. Twice she made arrangements to call me at home so I had to leave early. Sat and waited at appointed times. Nothing. Left messages. Both times she left early and completely forgot me. 6 months later, I see an ad for same company, send my cv in again. This time she arranges for proper interview. The place is off a highway and is a little tricky to get to. She gave me wrong directions.

I interview with her briefly, she brings me to someone else. He acts charming, asks pointed questions, then sends me off to sit with someone who explains what their dept does (that part was WONDERFUL - everyone was so nice and took time to talk to me even though they were busy). I go back to "Mr. Charm" who asks what I think, then about OT. I explained my husband did continental shift work, so some days I couldn't do OT because I had to pick up my son, but other days were no problem. He understood as he has a daughter (living in the States, I find out later) then casually asked if I was planning on having any more children. Real smooth. I answered honestly "that ship has sailed". After the interview I was FURIOUS with myself for not calling him out on it. (I've learned he has asked that of every single woman he's interviewed, regardless of age.)

But wait, there's MORE.

I go back down to HR to the same woman and she starts talking salary. I told her what I made at my last job ($33k). She made a face. We were really strapped for cash at this point so I didn't want to blow anything. I said I could go down to $30k. Another face, with a dismayed grunt. I thought wtf is this, The Price Is Right? "Lower. Lower." I was led to believe I'd get the job for $28k. She gives me general directions to the medical place. Fucking nightmare to get there. Got lost the first time.

I get a phone call on a Friday to come in and sign the letter of employment. Get there, read it over then gasped. Salary was $24K. I told the receptionist something was wrong and asked to speak to the person who wrote the letter. She was experienced at this - with the right amount of empathy, she explained the person was not there that day and I had to sign the letter by the end of "this" week (i.e. now) or the offer would be taken away. She apologized. There was nothing she could do. I cried hard after I left.

Luckily, my salary has gone up quite a bit in 5 years (they realized we were paid too low - still are imo), and I no longer work for that scumbag (the guy's been charged with sexual harrassment 2x yet he still manages to fail up). There are so many stories about that guy.

Wipe-Out said...

#1 I applied for a job in the office park where I worked. Unfortunately, they had rented space in my building for their interviews. When I "went home sick" at noon, I actually took the elevator up a few floors to the interview. Halfway through the interview the fire alarm went off and we had to evacuate. As I ride down in the elevator with my potential new employers, we stop at various floors and pick up some of my current co-workers who want to know why I am still at work. As I wait outside until the building is cleared, I didn't know who to stand with, my co-workers or my interviewers. I had to lie to my co-workers in front of the interviewers, all the while terrified that I would either lose my current job or lose out on the new job. I didn't get the new job. The interviewers asked me later why I didn't just tell my employer that I was interviewing. They didn't understand that I would've lost my job if I had. Which brings me to #2.

#2 While working at another company, I interviewed at a local college. Although I asked them not to contact my current employer for a reference until after they had offered me a job and I accepted it, they contacted them the very next day. A few days later my position was down-sized. I wonder why. When I called the college to say that I was immediately available, they told me they had hired someone else. There were no apologies for causing me to lose my job.

#3 I once applied for a job at a prison. I wore a nice dress to the interview and was escorted through the prison by a trustee (prisoner in good standing). I had to climb a ladder in my dress to reach the loft area of the office where I would be working. During the interview I was told that I would need to be able to walk through the prison unescorted, once hired, and that I wouldn't be able to wear dresses to work as it would only take a few minutes for a prisoner to pull up my dress and rape me and that wasn't long enough for help to reach me in time. They also told me that every prisoner would know my name, address, and phone number within one week of starting as that is how the grapvine worked. Needless to say I was terrified to climb back down that ladder in my dress and walk out of there with the trustee. I did not take the job.

bionic bunny! said...

no good interview stories (and i tried to post before but had problems, too), but...
worst:
DD has had terrible asthma (exercise, allergy AND stress induced) all her life, so for awhile i tried working for a temp. agency. turned out the woman in charge was a total bitch, and one day, i was in a stressful, but decent job that was due to turn into a permanent position, when she had to be admitted to the hospital 60 miles away (HMO). i was upset, even the patients commented on it, but when i called the bitch, she told me i'd lose my position if i asked to leave. finally in tears, i went to the office manager and explained the situation.
she'd already heard about it and said "i was only waiting for you to ask".
silliest:
first job ever- six flags over georgia- i was a real go-getter, well liked, given a lot of responsibility was TOLD i did a lot of stuff a first seasoner never got to do (circa. 1976). one day one of the other kids came in and said the supe was out back and was really pissed and needed to talk to me NOW. i freaked and headed out back. i didn't see her as i hit the back door, but i got past the ice box and i was hit with a giant bucket of ice water by my manager who was crouching on top of the box! this was the six flags way of announcing one's promotion! oh, and then i was told to make something up when i went back to wardrobe, because they frowned on such pranks. i loved six flags.