The Worst Interview Ever? Epic Fails
Jack Collins, the Managing Editor of AllAboutCareers, has not always been so clued up on how to nail a job interview. During his own plucky search for a career, he made some mistakes; some quite ridiculous mistakes! However, he’s learned from those blunders and perhaps you can learn from them too! What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger…
A few years ago, before I began working in editorial publishing, I was seriously considering a career in advertising. Needless to say, I didn’t end up becoming the next superstar of the advertising world. Why? Well, it really all boils down to one interview; one very, very shocking interview, which in hindsight was actually quite funny.
Let’s set the scene
I had just graduated and I was still clueless about my career. After a brief summer of love, which involved getting my hands ripped to shreds on a daily basis whilst packing boxes in a clay pigeon factory, I was desperate to get back to London.
I decided to take the first job I could get my hands on and managed to secure a position as a resourcer for a recruitment agency. Despite the fact that my team was pretty cool and I made some good friends, recruitment was certainly not my dream job. I craved the opportunity to be creative! Consequently, I started applying for graduate schemes with advertising agencies.
I didn’t really know what I was applying for, but the application forms were quite fun to fill out and the companies all seemed incredibly cool. I did some research, logged onto Brand Republic, read some advertising industry news, talked to my friend that worked for the brand consultancy firm, Millward Brown, and cracked on with the applications.
The advertising industry is notoriously tough to get into, but my application forms clearly struck a chord with some people, as I managed to secure an interview with two different agencies, RKCR/Y&R and BMB. Boom! I was as happy as Sir Happy McHappyson of Happyshire and I was feeling pretty confident that I would come up with the goods in the interview. Yeah, it was going to be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!
Little did I know, but it was actually going to be difficult, difficult, lemon, difficult.
Mistake Number One: Overthinking things
On the day of my interview with RKCR/Y&R, I got dressed and headed to Camden. On the tube, I started to get nervous. I don’t know why, but a wave of panic crashed over me. My hand started to shake like I was holding a malfunctioning mobile phone and I started going over my preparation notes like my life depended on it.
Mistake Number Two: The early bird special
In my quest to make a good impression, I ended up arriving outside the office about 58 minutes too early. Being early is good, but being almost an hour early is just plain weird. I didn’t want to seem like an absolute fool, so I walked around Camden for about 45 minutes. This didn’t do anything for my nerves. By the end of my stroll, my mind was a whirlwind of advertising industry information.
Mistake Number Three: Wearing far too much brown
Finally, it was crunch time. I took a deep breath and stormed into the RKCR/Y&R offices with a burst of fake confidence and hyperactive enthusiasm. I was wearing my brown pinstripe suit and brown tie. The receptionist was incredibly hot. She commented on my tie. “Oooh! Nice tie,” she uttered with gusto.
I was confused. Was Alice (the adorable receptionist) making fun of me? Or just being nice? Did she think I looked sharp? Or did she think my suit and tie combo made me look like a giant gingerbread man? A bit taken aback, I stumbled and bumbled my way into the waiting room.
When I got to the waiting room, complete with comfy sofas, vibrant colours and its very own bar, another incredibly beautiful young lady offered me a Diet Coke. I politely declined and sat down; stunned, surprised and now even more nervous than before.
Why was everyone so good-looking in this place? Had the prawn sandwich I’d eaten for breakfast somehow kicked my libido into overdrive? Or was everyone who worked in advertising just insanely attractive? Basically, the last five minutes had resembled a Lynx deodorant advert and it was pretty unnerving.
I tried to regain my composure by chatting to the girl next to me (a fellow interviewee), who seemed equally as nervous. This helped me to calm down a little bit; but then I was summoned for my interview and the real fun and games began.
Mistake Number Four: Being a complete idiot
Thankfully, my interviewers weren’t a group of former supermodels. They were very nice, friendly and welcoming. The first part of the interview went fine. I thought that I answered the questions fairly well, but gradually seeds of doubt began to plant themselves inside my head. Then, out of nowhere, it just happened: I started making those incredibly annoying speech mark signs with my hands.
I don’t know why I was doing it. I’d never done it before in my life, but all of a sudden it was like I had developed a very bizarre nervous twitch. I was very conscious of the fact that I was doing it, but I just couldn’t stop. Every 30 seconds my hands would thrust into the air and my fingers would take a little bow. They just kept doing it! My index finger and my middle finger kept coming together and nodding their heads like they were some kind of comedy duo in a 1950s musical.
Mistake Number Five: Going mental
Finally, the Q and A session ended. I probably had some finger cramp, but I was ok. I was sure I could pull the interview back from the brink of disaster. Then the worst thing happened. They asked me to give a short presentation.
They thrust a print advert for Land Rover into my hand, which featured a tribe of Masai warriors standing in a formation that resembled a Land Rover 4x4. I had five minutes to prepare a two minute presentation. My interviewers left the room, but as they did, one of them winked at me and said the words: “Feel free to use the room in any way you want.”
As soon as I heard that, some kind of bizarre chemical reaction happened in my brain and I decided that this was my chance to demonstrate my creativity and ‘outside the box’ thinking. I don’t know why, but I decided to rearrange the office furniture of the interview room into the shape of a car; effectively mirroring the concept of the advert that I’d been given.
I jumped into action. I moved the massive desk out of the way and arranged the chairs and the waste paper bin into the rudimentary shape of the car. I even placed the round chairs on their side to make them look like wheels. One of the walls of the interview room was made of glass and the various employees of the agency kept walking past and staring at me with wide-eyed fascination. I was a mental case in a goldfish bowl; throwing furniture around an office without giving a single thought to what I was going to say in the actual presentation.
Mistake Number Six: Unleashing the motor mouth
When they came back into the room, they were shocked to say the least. The room looked like a bombsite and I hadn’t prepared anything. I decided to wing it. I started talking complete rubbish at a ridiculously fast speed. I normally speak pretty fast, but this time I was out of control. Basically, I just kept mumbling random words that vaguely related to cars and Masai warriors. Furthermore, I kept repeating the Land Rover slogan, ‘Go Beyond’, like it was my own personal catchphrase.
My presentation had no structure, no conviction and when I pointed out the office furniture-car creation, they hadn’t even realised what it was supposed to be. Incidentally, I didn’t get a second interview.
Please remember when you have your advertising interview that rearranging the office furniture into the shape of a car, a van, a lorry, a bike or any other form of transport is not a good idea.
Image courtesy of funnyboy73, ‘Gingerbread Man in A Christmas Fantasy Parade’
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