Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What are the worst interview mistakes you’ve seen as recruiter? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
I love working at tech companies. You see some of the most ridiculously awesome things that would never fly in say higher education or investment banking. I cannot ever imagine working outside of tech. It is the best and I feel like a better and more well rounded person for what I’ve witnessed. Here are a few of my most favorite instances I’ve witnessed first hand. You can’t make this stuff up and it makes for one awesome work day when it happens.
1. Drunken/Hungover Candidates
Interviewing is like flying in an airplane for some people. It’s an anxiety-inducing, pressure cooker type scenario for a lot of people. Sometimes bad choices are made to alleviate such pressure. Interviewing while drunk happens a lot more than one might think. And no matter how prepared you are mentally for this, there is nothing quite like living it live and in color. You feel like any minute Ashton Kutcher’s going to jump out of a bush because you’re being Punk’d.
One story I can think of from very early in my career was when a VP-level candidate went a little too aggressive with the hotel minibar, got hungover and missed the entire four-hour interview the next morning. I gave him a call inquiring of his whereabouts, and he said he had some “bad Fiesta Chicken” the night before at the hotel we put him up in. I totally played along and was super empathetic. I IM’d my lead at the time and tipped her to my suspicion that dude was totally hungover, but ever the professional, we didn’t loop in the hiring manager at the time. We even sent that the candidate a gift basket as a nice gesture because we “felt bad” he had to miss his interview and we rescheduled it for another day and extended his trip. I still can’t believe we did that. But whatever. It’s the Nordstrom customer service blood in me. There’s a really fascinating moral/end to that story, but I won’t share it here. Maybe one day in a book. When I can further obscure the details to protect the guilty.
2. Jet-Lag Is a Beast
Candidates who have to travel a long distance to interview, but don’t leave themselves time to adjust to the time change have a tough time. I once had a receptionist IM me to say that my candidate was asleep, snoring on the couch in the lobby. Thankfully we woke him before the first interviewer came to grab him. That wasn’t the first impression we wanted him to make. Also, here is where I plug the importance of good recruiters and why they are your friend and advocate. Friends don’t let friends fall asleep in the lobby prior to an interview.
3. Recreational Drug Use
One of my favorite stories I wasn’t actually there to witness first hand. I had a Software Engineer candidate interviewing with a Director. They met up at a coffee shop because I guess we didn’t have office space at the time. It was scrappy. The details on that are fuzzy. Anyway, I pinged the Director afterward to see how the interview went and he replied, “It was fine I guess. I mean, he asked me if I wanted to go smoke weed after the interview, so I guess you could say we hit it off….”