11 Apr The Worst Job Interview of My Entire Life
Let me tell you about one of the most embarrassing job interviews I have ever done.
It’s been more than 10 years at this stage. I think I’m finally ready to share.
I was in my early 20s and out of college a couple of years. I had grand plans for a startup company that failed miserably. My ego was bruised and I was broke. It was time to start applying for actual jobs so I could feed myself and move on with my life.
So I asked a few mates if they knew of any jobs going. I had done some interviews for a door to door salesman job and had even done some promo work. One such event where I was caught at an Ireland match standing atop a small box, wearing a bright yellow jacket and beanie and using a traffic cone as a loudspeaker.
Not the career highlight I had planned.
Thankfully, a mate of mine knew of a few jobs going in his place. It was a city centre financial company. Entry level job going and he put a good work in for me and lined up an interview.
I donned my nicest grey suit, printed off some copies of my CV and headed into town for the interview.
The great thing about having friends in these places is that they can help you out when you’re in a bit of a rut. The only downside, there is huge pressure. Not only are you representing yourself, but you are representing your friend too. His reputation is on the line just as much as yours.
I got into their office nice and early, keen to make a good first impression. The receptionist directed me to wait in the boardroom where the interview was set to take place.
I sat there quietly. Then I noticed on the small table to the side, that there was a jug of water and some glasses. I had a brainwave. I thought to myself, “If I was a relaxed and confident person, who felt comfortable being in here, I’d simply pour myself a glass of water, sit back and sip it until the founders of the company arrived.”.
That’s all I needed to do. Pour myself a glass of water. Genius.
Now to be clear, the jug wasn’t a glass jug. It was a fancy, stainless steel, corporate jug. One with a lid on the top of it that needed to be pressed slightly to release the water. Modern. Fancy. Elegant.
A relatively simple task you would think.
I solved this water pouring problem after several failed attempts and now my glass was full. Excellent work Cormac. The only issue was that I had pressed down a bit too hard on the lid and now there was about 1 litre of water covering the entire boardroom table.
My attempt to appear cool, calm and collected had been completely turned on its head.
Unfortunately there was no tissues in the room. I couldn’t go out and ask the receptionist for some either. They’d never hire someone whose first minute showcased how he can’t even pour himself a glass of water.
I had to improvise.
I tried using my hands to whisk the water off the table, but it wasn’t working. Those shiney boardroom tables have magical properties where all the water seems to pool back together.
It reminded me of the scene from Terminator 2 Judgment Day, where the T1000 has been frozen solid thanks to some liquid nitrogen, then smashed into a million pieces in a steel mill.
And, just when Sarah and John Connor think they have defeated it, the heat from a nearby vat of molten steel thaws the T1000 and it begins to reform.
I was losing my battle with the Terminator 2 water. It was shapeshifting back together in front of my eyes and I was minutes away from the start of the interview.
I grabbed a copy of my CV and used that as a paper towel. A slightly better result, but now the copy of the CV I had was soaked. The ink was running and it was morphing into more of a rorschach test than a CV.
Finally, I made one last ditch attempt to dry the table before the interview started. What was the most absorbent item of clothing I was wearing? Well, turns out it was my tie.
I used my tie to mop away the water off the side of the table. I did this while it was still attached to my neck. There was no time to take it off. If you can imagine how that looked, I had to lean down, inches from the table and wipe the water away. My entire upper body was making aggressive left to right swoops in this office as the directors were making their way down the hall.
The office walls were glass in the middle of an open plan seating arrangement,. If anyone looked over while I was doing this it would have appeared like I was snorting copious amounts of cocaine before the questions started.
Thankfully it worked. Sort of.
Flustered, I gather myself together just as the 2 directors entered the room. Of course after introductions were done with a soaked right hand, they asked for a copy of my CV.
I handed them over a soggy copy. Was this guy so stressed and nervous that his sweat has soaked his CV?. We get the ball rolling.
First question: “Tell us about a time when you were under pressure and how you handled it?”. Well, if only they fucking knew.
The interview continued and I thought I had pulled it out of the bag. About 40 minutes later it was done. I had come through one of the most gruelling experiences of my life, but left with some bit of hope that maybe, just maybe I might have landed this job.
I stood up, reached out to shake their hands and then the sudden shocked look on their faces let me know, that no, I was not going to be getting this job.
Remember: my tie was soaked. It was resting upon the crotch area of my grey pants. For almost an hour.
This is not the most ideal look you want to present when ending an interview.