We agree that learning from your mistakes is a good thing. However, it’s even better to learn from the mistakes of others.
With that in mind, we present these stories of interview gaffes – with mostly happy endings – so that you may avoid learning these lessons first hand.
A Run in Her Stocking
Jess Sims was determined to ace the interview for her first PR internship.
“I had prepped myself to death about the company, mapped out the route I was going to take two days in advance, made triplicate copies of all of my documents and arrived into the city an hour and a half early,” recalled Sims, who works in fashion PR.
She seemingly had covered all her bases. However, she had made an embarrassing oversight: “While being led back [to the interview room], the receptionist ran after me and whispered in my ear: ‘There is a huge run in your stockings, it’s going up your entire leg!’ ”
Sims looked down at her stockings and confirmed the receptionist’s observation – a run “as long as my arm.”
“I got the internship,” Sims said. “But the moral of the story is check the mirror before you leave the houseand then again when you get to the interview location.”
Good advice. If it’s not a run in your stockings it might be a booger trying to make an escape, a twisted necktie or flyaway hair — none of which will help your chances during a job interview.
Your Wife Sews Clothes for Dogs?
Do you have any pets?
That harmless question once complicated a job interview for Jane Miller.
“I responded that I had two dogs and they were like kids to me,” recalled Miller, founder of career site Jane Knows. “I told him that I took them everywhere and they were quite spoiled.”
Self-conscious about gushing so much about her pets, Miller downplayed her devotion to the dogs – it’s not like I dress them or anything, she said.
“[The interviewer] responded by telling me that he liked dogs a lot also,” Miller said. “And, interestingly, his wife was a seamstress and actually made matching outfits for the dog and her.”
“I took a sip of my drink … and changed the subject.”
Poking fun at canine couture didn’t turn out to be a major faux pas, and Miller got the job. But the episode provided her with a valuable lesson.
“Potential employers don’t need to know anything that does not help their decision in selecting you for the job,” she said. “Remember, this is your time to sell them on you, not give them a reason to pass on you. If you accidentally spill the beans—and say something to a potential employer you regret, it is best to move on and not dig the hole deeper.”
That’s the Wrong Company
During his time as a corporate recruiter for Eliassen Group, Dennis Tupper interviewed hundreds of people for various roles. In one of those interviews, Tupper asked what the candidate knew about the company.
And the candidate had indeed done plenty of research – about the wrong company.
“The candidate then spent 15 minutes describing everything about one of our biggest competitors in the area,” said Tupper, who is now a consultant advocate for Eliassen Group.
“Once we were through with their answer,” Tupper said, “I informed them of their mistake. Their face got red, they profusely apologized. I suggested they re-read any preparation notes for any interview they were about to have prior to them coming in — and to pay attention to a company’s name and logo in the lobby of the building where they will be interviewing.”
Ouch … and, lesson learned (we hope).
Oh Yeah, My Resume
Nihar Suthar, founder of Hype Up Your Day, once forgot to bring a copy of his resume to a job interview.
“The interviewer did not have a copy of it either, and it made for a pretty awkward interview!” he recalled. “I learned from that point on to always take a resume to an interview. It’s always good as well to have a copy of it in front of yourself when you are talking.”
For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at CareerBliss.