How to screw up an interview. Royally.

Following is an account of a hell portal that I uncovered during the excruciating process of landing a decent internship. This can happen to you if you are –

1. Socially awkward. We are talking Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura impersonations at weddings to camouflage your nervousness.

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2. A devout worshipper of Chandler Bing from F.R.I.E.N.D.S. with an all-consuming love for witticisms and comebacks.

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3. The possessor of a smile that is a cross between a snigger and a grunt.

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Be scared. Be VERY scared. I lived to tell the tale, you might not.

So after getting an unexpected interview call for a major publishing house, I landed in its office located at the Siberian end of West Delhi. Exceptional ambience, tasteful teakwood flooring and a citrus scent emanating from an unknown source. So far, so good.

The interviewer calls me in. I enter and prop myself heavily on a chair. The room is stuffy and humid. The AC groans from neglect. But the interviewer has a pleasant face. He eyes me quizzically. Guess he isn’t well acquainted with potato faces. “Are you okay? Would you like something?” he asks, cocking his rather small head to a side.
I’m okay, that’s just my face. Could I have a box of glazed donuts and some self-esteem? I think it won’t be an appropriate reply. I go with the standard “Yes I’m fine. Thank you.”

“So I have noticed your CV is rather brief… ”
That’s because this is my first internship and I’m freshly out of high school. I couldn’t obviously add things like ‘Can write badly punctuated poetry’ or ‘Can drive a bike for 100 metres without crashing in a tree or a human’ to my achievements.

“Yes. I realise that. Umm.. Uhh…”  *garbled speech*
“Never mind. How much of a team player are you?”
Oh well. I’m very argumentative and unrelenting at times. Also, I have serious homicidal tendencies that I may need to get checked.
“I get along easily with people. I believe in joint efforts that stem from mutual understanding and respect. So yes, I do think of myself as a team player”

By this time I can’t believe the word vomit gushing out of my mouth. He looks unconvinced, thanks to the creepy smile I flash every nanosecond.

“Look, I’ll cut straight to the chase. Give me a reason as to why we should hire you.”
Because my pesky relatives will hound me as soon as I enter my home. Because I need a relevant line in my CV that is just downright tragic.

“Well.. Umm… I am really passionate about things…” yada yada. Uninspired grammatically incorrect soliloquy.
“That will be all. Thank you for your time.”

Its over. But there’s a sense of freedom as I make my way out of the office. The air seems fresh. There will always be another interview, I suppose.

Until next time.

– A

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31 thoughts on “How to screw up an interview. Royally.

  1. So know what you are talking about, the feeling like you could just slide under the table and out the door in the middle of an intervioew, when you reallise, something is going horribly wrong with everything you prcatised. Sometimes – just occasionally, an evil Jim Carey side of things takes over and just keep going – watch myself doing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Is it screwing up when you were being totally honest? Sounds to me like you just had a typical interview! Next time you will be a little more prepared because of this experience. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and don’t give up…I mean who wants to work somewhere that doesn’t appreciate the genius that is Chandler Bing anyway!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Nicky,
      I feel you on a spiritual level because of the last line. Really, I do. And i completely agree that this could have gone way worse – I could have been legitimately thrown out. So, that didn’t happen. xD
      But to be honest at that time this experience pocked holes in my morale and I was down for weeks. Later I realised this was actually hilarious and I should probably write about it. Thankfully it proved therapeutic and now I’m here grinning ear to ear. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
      Thank you for the support. This was definitely an experience I can take notes from. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very honest, I like that. I understand very well the relief of leaving the interview room; always feels like you are being let out of a cage somehow. The thing is it is all about experience; the more you do the better you become at them. Unfortunately I can’t say it will get better though, or that you’ll end up listing them as one of your favourite pastime events. Next interview; think of a pertinent question to make the interviewer squirm (keep it free from expletives of course) – puts the power back in your hands and reminds you that you are in control. Thanks for posting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I somehow hate the fact that we are constantly aware of power dynamics everywhere we go. An interview chamber (I use chamber because room won’t capture it’s essence) is just an example of that.
      Having said that, disturbing these long established dynamics can’t have good outcomes no matter how much we wish so. Interviewers tend to be uptight professionals with an inherent sense of dominance and if we attempt to meddle with these equations, we’ll not only end up chucked out of the chamber – we won’t have successful interactions in the near future.
      Just a thought. Power structures no matter how convoluted and unfair, need to be recognised and dealt with sensitivity and care.
      Thank you for reading! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, and I know about this subject all too well; I have been both interviewer, interviewee, plus I have prepped people for the dreaded task for many years. Never harms to ask questions, and especially those you need answering such as; about their training, support, inductions, progression, their audits and company reviews. Demonstrates knowledge and interest, and it is something other candidates may fail to do. You do have a right to ask questions, and of course not to feel as though you are being brow beaten. Key to remember is that most interviewers are not experts either at that particular role. Also finding a rapport with them can help; although it is true most interview decisions are made within the first few seconds. They are people are consequently judgemental; they either like you or not (nothing necessarily personal either, it is just how it is).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember screwing my first interview as well. I was trying to maintain a smile while at the same time fighting the urge to puke on my panel and running out of the room.
    Not an experience I’d recommend, either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See that’s the problem. I try to eat nothing before an interview to avoid that pukish feeling, but then my stomach grumbles like a dying whale in the Trans-Atlantic belt.
      To eat or not to eat, that is the question. xD

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Depends on the interviewers. One set of mine were bent upon annhilating me, the second ones were pretty chill.
        So it was puke or take out for ice cream, really!

        Liked by 1 person

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