My Six Worst Interviews

In my working life, I have gone on what I consider a lot of interviews. Probably around 50 or so. Some good, some decent, some bad, some awful. I thought it would be fun to recount the few that were awful…

Round and round we go

The first of my interviews that comes to mind was for a management position at a pretty prestigious organization. It started with a typical phone screen that went well. Then, I came in for a onsite interview which consisted of an hour-long interview with 6 other IT personnel, a one-on-one with the hiring manager and then an hour-long intelligence exam. The exam was not something I was told I would be doing beforehand, and frankly I was pissed that I had to do it. I was already exhausted from talking to strangers for a few hours. I had no interest in doing some exam as well. The last third of the exam I didn’t even try to just circled answers.

I was then called back for a final interview with the hiring manager and their manager. That went fairly well I thought. After a few days of not hearing back I reached out to the hiring manager for a status. That is when things got weird.

In my email, I simply asked for when they would make a decision. One sentence. What I got back was cryptic and non-sensical.

Hi Dan….

Thanks for touching base.  I know that you have some questions following our last meeting.  It would be helpful to have a discussion.  Are you available to meet for breakfast one morning?  Perhaps Monday or Wednesday next week or coffee at the end of the day. 

Thanks very much, have a great evening. 

Uhh what? I just want to know when a decision will be made and I had no other questions. How much more time do I need to spend with you? I decided that the only logical explanation was this person was making a pass at me, and it totally weirded me out. I politely declined breakfast and stated I would be happy to meet for breakfast but I didn’t really have any further questions outside of the final decision.

Didn’t hear back at all for like a week and did not get an offer.

The D-nozzle CEO

I interviewed for another low-level management position years ago. The first interview went well and then the final interview was with the CEO and CFO (it was a small place). They asked me to come with ideas about what I would do as a manager, which I did. The CFO was nerd and the CEO was an eccentric asshole to be honest. I could tell he was full of himself. Lets be clear, this was not Apple or some fancy startup, It was a very small company in a very small town. During my explanation the CEO, stopped me mid-sentence and said something like “You know I don’t care about this. Give me an idea that separates you from the other candidates”. I forget what I gave as an idea but I guess he liked it enough.

They offered me the job that night but the pay was lower than I thought I deserved. They wouldn’t budge and I declined.

Crying hiring manager

One of my favorite interview stories involves crying. Not the sad type though.

I interviewed to be a sysadmin at a hospital years ago. The place was stuck in like 1997 (this was around 2012) and were barely doing virtualization. The hiring manager was really nice on the phone so I came for a onsite interview. He showed me around to look at their servers and talked about their critical systems. One of their critical systems relied on a Microsoft Access database, which made me almost vom.

We went back to his office to talk and that’s when things got weird. It was May, and things were blooming. Hard time for people with allergies. As we sat down I realized this guy was suffering, big time. His eyes were literally tearing non-stop and he could barely open them. It was really distracting to try to talk to someone for an interview and watch them pat their eyes every 10 seconds while they look like they are seconds away from falling asleep in front of you.

They ended up offering but the pay was too low for me.

Closet full of nerds

This interview was at a very big and powerful company many years ago. I was very happy to get the interview because I didn’t think I was quite qualified to be honest. Upon arriving, the hiring manager kept going on and on about how this was a job that requires you to go down a lot of rabbit holes and they always want root cause analysis on problems. No “fixing stuff” and moving on. Then the manager showed me where I would be working.

She opened the door to what I thought was a small closet and I peered in to see like six dudes with headsets on, all in a row talking on the phone. I knew then there was no way I was taking the job.

They offered a low ball salary and I declined.

Let me the F out of this room

Before I took my current position, I interviewed at a very high-profile organization. The on site interview consisted of a presentation I had to give. Keep in mind, this was not a management position. To me, this is a stupid way to try to see if someone would be a good technical worker. What the hell does doing a presentation on a project have to do with being an IT professional? Nothing.

Anyway, after the presentation, I had non-stop interviews with every person they could possibly send in to see me. I am pretty sure they sent in a receptionist at one point. After hours of this, I was totally done and I just wanted to get the hell out of there. It was the most grueling interview I have had yet.

They didn’t offer.

I would like the last hour of my life back please

This last interview was at a research organization. What they were doing was super cool and it was a small company, like 100 people. What they were looking for seemed right up my alley.

The first person I interviewed with had only been there for two weeks. Hmm, okay. He literally had nothing to say and no questions really. Which basically meant they needed a body for an interview slot. It lasted five minutes.

The next person was an executive and had been there for 10 years. Amazingly, she had no real questions either. After like five minutes she started asking personal questions. This went on for like a half hour. She was a nice enough woman, but I couldn’t believe this was how she chose to spend time.

The last guy was the hiring manager. It went fairly well, we got along great and I thought for sure I would get an offer. I didn’t. Even after emailing a few times never got an answer. Thanks.


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