wost. interview. ever.

i thought it might be fun/cathartic to share some bad/horrible interview experiences. i know i’ve seen some examples floating around these forums but usually in random threads.

anyway, here’s mine. it was doomed before it started . . .
i’d set up an interview in a city that’s 5 hours away by bus from my own. the interviewer keeps changing the meeting time on me, but we finally settle on a time and date. i get in the city a day early and stay at a friend’s house so i’ll have plenty of time to prepare myself and won’t feel rushed about getting to the interview.

the morning of the meeting, i have to transfer from the subway to a bus to another bus. and on one of the bus transfers i take the bus going the wrong way. i end up an hour late, so i figure i’m pretty fscked, and by that time i just want to go home and forget about the whole thing. but then when i finally get there, i find out that my interviewer had left to another country for a business trip, hadn’t scheduled a replacement for himself, and hadn’t told anyone i was coming.

bad day dude.

My worst was my second ever. I was coming down off my first which went awesome, so I was coming in a bit hot, maybe even cockey. The company flew me out to the west coast, picked me up at the airport and brought me in. The design director had a glass office in the middle of the studio, and they told me to sit outside. He sat in his office for about 20min, looked like he was surfing the web from what I could tell. Finally invites me in and tells me to have a seat at the little round table in his office, I’m dressed for an interview he’s in ripped jeans and a steelers jersey, and then he leaves without a word, another 20minutes go by and he comesback with the entire design team, about 20 people, and he says, “so what do you got”. So for me what is a pretty crucial moment is 30 minutes when this team doesn’t have to work. Side conversations are going on, jokes, lauphing (maybe it was my shirt) and the whole time the director is silent. Afterwards he says,’ hey thanks for coming in" and I’m like," could I get a ride to my hotel or something (that they are paying for) and he tells someone to take me to lunch and bring me to my hotel and give me a tour on our way out. What I expected to be some kind of magic carpet ride, was a 30 minute bother to this guy.

I didn’t get the job, or any real feedback, but what I did get was a healthy dose of reality and a good measure of paranoia that makes me prepare for almost any situation in an interview or presentation. Though it was painful, it helped me out a lot.

This promises to be a thread filled with frustrating stories of being treated with zero respect. Here’s one very minor one from 10 years ago that has stuck with me.

I had a phone interview that never happened. When I emailed them to ask what was up, they told me that they had already filled the position and decided not to proceed with the rest of the interviews. Why no one bothered to tell me is beyond me. I let them know that I wouldn’t be interested in working at a company that showed so little consideration for others. Of course, that had no impact, but when you are interviewing you are basically always in a subservient position and it was probably good for my mental health at that point to assert myself, regardless of the change it would effect on the other end.

not necessarily bad, but funny…
i had an interview for an internship. walked in with a shirt and tie outfit and my portfolio, had a chat over my portfolio for about half an hour w/ the director, then he goes straight to the point… “can you start… now?” So the shirt and tie come off and i’m making models an hour after walking in through the doors. of course, i’d soon find out this was pretty much how all the projects were managed, or more precisely, not managed.

How about denial of your project?

Last year’s portfolio review, my school invited some designers from various companies to come and did a 1 to 1 interview with us and our portfolio. I was still a sophmore, so had little to offer. Anyways, I was going through my portfolio and explaining this portable induction cooker. No fire hazard, compact, clean blah blah blah… then it runs off a rechargable battery.

The guy was thinking that batteries are heavy, and since induction cooker runs off pretty large amount of energy, he totally dismissed my project just because I havn’t found a perfect exact power supply for my unit yet.

Well, that kinda hurt, but it wasn’t for job opportunity, so it wasn’t so bad. That did teach me a lesson though, that I have to do what ever it takes to prove my concept, and the best way is through a working model is it’s mechanical.

how about a down right rude and condescending interviewer?

Years ago after graduating, I interviewed at several EGD firms in California. Then there was this guy I interviewed with near SF. I don’t remember what his exact words were at the time, but he basically told me that I sucked. I was like what?!?!?!

No, I didn’t second guess my work or talent; I have been working at succesful/renown EGD places since.

Just was bewilidered at what kind of a social ape he was.

I was set up for an interview at this communications company just outside downtown Chicago by this woman recruiter who used to work at a creative staffing firm. Her client was looking for a Multimedia Designer. I interviewed with her first, and she loved my work, and then she sent me to her client.

The minute I got there, the first thing the guy (Art director) asked me was “So, you ready to blow us away?” I said yes, then he made me wait for another 15 minutes. When I finally got the chance to sit down and talk to him, he barely looked me in the eyes, and just rested his chin on the desk, scanning through my resume like a bored teenage daughter being lectured by her parents. Checked his emails, etc.

Talk about rude! Granted, I didn’t have laser quality printouts(I come from a motion graphics/multimedia background), but I could have helped their company in SOME way. Next, he started playing parlor games by asking me completely irrelevant technical questions like “Do you know how to embed an animated GIF into your Lotus Notes signature?”, and “Do you know how to use Truetype fonts on the Mac?” Finally, I met with his actual multimedia guys, and they were cool as hell. Of course, they don’t get the final say.

I called the recruiter right after and told her that the guy was kind of rude. She said they have been a client for 10 years and the guy was having a bad week because of an upcoming business pitch. Whatever the cause, there was no need for such an extreme level of verbal abuse. God only knows what else he told her, because she stopped answering my phone calls after that. So thru no fault of my own, my bridge with this recruiter was burned. Talk about social apes.

Not to stereotype, but that’s what happens when you have a mean gay guy interviewing you. That interview left me scarred, but having worked in the ad agency environment for 4 years, sat thru many a company meeting, I have observed them to be very temperamental, rude and downright condescending most of the time. Combine that with a position of power, such as Art Director (aka the Creative Hiring Manager), and you’re SOL because what you get is someone who is only looking to hire people of the same demographic, and/or people whom they see as “subservient.” In other words, they want people to kiss their ass.

I’m just being real. To those of you in advertising, you already know the verdict.

Yeah, I’ve got a few a well.

My best story is how I was mailing out resumes and coverletters in multiples when I had just graduated from school. I accidentally mixed up the cover letters to competing firms and still landed interviews. Total blunder but reassuring. I ended up cancelling them both an took a job at a firm that hired me on the spot.

Untimately. I’ll never get stuck licking stamps or doing promo mailers.

That should say “luckily” got a job. Could have been the other way around too where I would have had to do some explaining of why I’m such a goofball.

My favorite was last summer. I had just graduated from grad school, and I had a girlfriend living on the west coast. I was trying to relocate there, so I got in touch with this company, said I was going to be in the area, and asked them if they were thinking of adding any people anytime in the future. The owner looked at my online portfolio/resume, said it looked interesting, and said they might be looking to add people soon. We agreed on a time and day to meet.

I spent the money for a ticket to the west coast, rental car, etc. It took me over an hour to get to the interview from where I was staying with the girl. I might add that I had no source of income at the time and the entire trip was financed by my meagar savings and credit cards. I finally fight my way through traffic all the way to this guy’s office. I get there and he seems totally detached, uninterested, and a bit rude. He takes one look at my resume, which he had told me on the phone looked good, looks at me, and says, “We really need someone with more experience.”

I’m panicking a bit at this point considering all the effort I had gone to just to see this guy, so I ask him if I can go over my portfolio with him. He says “Make it fast. I only have about 15 minutes.” Which was pretty rude if you ask me, considering I had traveled 3000 miles just to talk to this guy. So I show all my portfolio stuff, which he has SAID he had liked when we talked on the phone, and says basically it was alright but he wasn’t interested.

So I’m trying to end this on a good note, thank him for his time, etc., and on the way out he says, “by the way, if you are going to be a success in this field, you HAVE to have some 3D CAD pieces”

This just about made my blood boil, considering I had PLENTY of 3D work in my portfolio. It just proved to me that the guy wasn’t paying attention at all. Nice guy, huh?

The cherry on top of it all was when the girl I was dating broke up with me because our “relationship was going nowhere” because I couldn’t find a job on the west coast.

I was interviewing at a prepress dept in a print shop in Berkeley years ago. No design needed just production. I had the skills and experience needed, perhaps too much for the position or so I thought. So after about a 20min review of my work they give me a tour, tell me how brilliant they are, then ask me to take an IQ test. Ok I say, then it turns into two tests lasting longer than the review. I finish the first, then begin the second while he grades my test, all the while, making nonverbal gestures. Anyway, I never heard from them and ended up getting a job at one of the largest ad agencies on the west coast making 3x+ what the preress shop paid. I learned that if a company does not show respect in an interview its probably not for me. Do these tests help companies? I don’t know? As soon as I started the test I knew I didnt want to work there, I wish I would have walked out on the test. Lesson learned.

Funny but the 2 worst interviews I have had in my entire career were in CA where I had to fly in. (1 in LA area the other in S.F.)

Not sure if this means anything but I think there are a lot of phonies out there. Not all of them (I have had some good interviews out there too although I was living there at the time.) Just seems like you are treated in a very rude manner, lots of false promises to get you out there when they really weren’t interested in the first place.

Maybe CA folks only like to hire other CA folks.

i don’t have a bad interview story, but i have one which i attended as a potential employer.

the candidate walked us through the entire protfolio, which was sharp and very ‘electronic’. we take the candidate to dinner, to feel out the personality. we sleep on it and continue the interview the next day.

prior to the candidates arrival we agree to give a sketch ‘test’ , just to see if this person can think quickly and put it down on paper.

the candidate failed miserably, saying that sketching was not part of the rrequired in previous positions.

later we find out the portfolio was mostly plagerized.

Whoa some of your stories are pretty bad.

Mine really isn’t a bad interview one, but a example of disrespect and frustration.

sorry for the long rant. :angry:

During a very dry spell (looking for work for ten months straight) I had been unsuccessfully trying to contact a local toy company (Spinmaster Toys). I eventually heard that they were holding an onsite 'career fair’and posted a few positions for Industrial designers. So I put on my best suit, put together an impressive portfolio and made my way to their location.

I had never felt more like cattle than that day. When I arrived I was given one of those tyvek hospital/concert bracelets and asked to wait in the cold and quickly growing line.

A guy came out trying to get the crowd to ‘cheer’ praises of the company. I know that there are some gung-ho people out there but it made a number of us feel cheap.(of course we didn’t voice this at the time, since we were all trying to look like keeners)

after waiting for about an hour I finally made it to the interview ‘processing room’ and waited to be seen by someone. The first ‘interviewer’ was very friendly but made it known that she was just a junior and was really just filling out a paper with info on why I was there and whether I had pertinent work experience. She had no idea what an industrial designer was and didn’t need to see my portfolio.She said “I’ll pass you onto Karen” (not her real name).
-So back to the processing room

I eventually was called to see Karen and soon found that she also had no idea what an Industrial Designer was (even though she a project/product line manager) I gave my best definition / description of my training and abilities and mentioned that “I have a good eye for design” she raised her eyebrow and gave me the sweeping toe to head glance and sneered a “what do you you mean by that?” I know I’m not all ‘queer eye’ but I also wasn’t wearing a Sears suit. So unphased, I proceeded to tell her that I had developed the ability to recognize good design and aesthetics but also more importantly I could bring to the company my years of product design experience, my understanding of mass production technologies and my positive team player attitude. I then offered to show her my portfolio and she said “no that’s ok, I’ll pass you onto Dave” (also not a real name)
This time instead of going back to the processing room Karen looked out the door and waved down some intern looking guy and told him to “take me to see Dave”

The intern Guy was casually friendly and talkative. He led me through what seemed to be the backrooms of the company and I thought to myself “Wow, I must be going to the design offices” He led me to this door and said “what position did you apply for, hmm that’s cool, you should hear from us by the end of the week” I though he was just informing me of how the process goes and that I was definitely ‘in’. Until…he opended the door, said “have a nice day” and ushered me outside!

WTF! #%#*@&!!!

there was some guy hanging around that I later found out was just as confused as I was (also applying for a designer position) He also thought he was heading off for a third interview.

I was already at a low point in my life design employment wise and this bit of humiliation really didn’t help.

It’s sad how the gatekeepers of design jobs often don’t have a clue what design is.

BTW I later heard that this company has a record of screwing over /leading on designers so I’m glad I missed the bullet. :unamused:

Hey Force,
This guy didn’t happen to be a Univ. of Cincinnati grad, did he?

nerdtronic…has your voice broke?

no, bob, i’m just stunned silent.

that spinmaster thing was especially sad to me. i’ve been wanting to try toy design but there don’t seem to be many companies in which to practice it in canada (the only other one i can think of is megabloks and apparently my two interviews there didn’t go so hot)

nah, not a cinciny grad.

during that same interview process we got this other dandidate who we flew in…but had to pay for a plane ticket for the 8y y.o. child too.

said child came to the interview, which we weren’t prepared for, and that kid was a BRAT. it was among one of most bizarre,interviews i think i’ve ever witnessed. now i can certainly understand the pressures and troubles of a single parent with a child, but to spring it on us at the interview that we should try to babysit while the parent interviewed was just strange.

ah, and the candidate took a cab 50 miles one way to the hotel from the airport because a credit card was necessary to complete the rental car reservation we supplied (and paid for). the candidate didn’t have one, but had the cabbie come in get the cab fare from our receptionist… classy.

When I graduated in 2001 I wet to an interview in a fairly well known ID firm here in finland.
The position was for a 3d- modeller.
In the first interview they checked out my portfolio, said that I need to use Solidworks in the job. I promised to learn SW for the second interview about a month from that. And I did.
In the second interview we agreed on details of the job, sallary, free accomodation in the owners house(which also is the office and its in the middle of the forest) and agreed on a starting date so I could arrange my relocation.
I was supposed to start work in wednesday, so on friday this guy calls me and says that “sorry but we hired someone else, I hope you´re not offended. The other guy has a degree from a different school than you”
This other guy had a degree from the same school than the owner, same level than I (BA)
So, what do we learn from this? Trust no-one. If its not in writing its not real.

well here’s my turn.
All my job interviews were good. Well the first one was ok, but that was because they never had an ID before and also it was my first interview for an ID position and I wasn’t out of school yet.
Bascialy the ‘weird’ part of that interview was that after showing the boss (who was really nice by the way) my student portfolio with technical drawings, he said: " Well we do need a 3D CAD modeler, I didnt see any in your portfolio", I went on to explain how our school pushes us to render hand sketches BUT how my Technical Drawings were all modeled before and then detailed (which would also save him time and money) instead of us doind TDs by hand. He said “Oh, ok then, you got the job.”

My second was during my last year at school, when we wee having mock interviews with a teacher. And he basicaly posted a job description on the door, that you read before going in… Well I did not like the job description, so ordinarily I would not apply for a job like that. That was kinda pointless, pretending to apply to a job that I didnt want. (basicaly a cad jockey job with some modelmaking to start with a promise of a ‘better future’). And when he asked me to describe my eductaion, I said it was ‘decent’ which he really didnt like. Although perhaps decent to him doesn’t mean the same as it does to me.