Workplace Worst Interview Ever...?

SeriouslyChic

Kitty Squisher
O.G.
Yesterday I had either the worst interview ever or I was pushed and tested hardcore. This is a long post but I'm curious to see what others think about it because my friends and family are divided into two camps: 1. It was a test. and 2. That guy sucks be glad you don't work there. Here's what went down...

I was originally contacted about a Search Engine Marketing Analyst position by a guy named Chad. He sounded very nice and we had a lovely phone interview so he set up a face-to-face with his manager Tom last Thursday.

That interview went *amazing*. We chatted for two hours about everything related to this position and I just felt great walking out of there. He assigned me a homework project and so I took it and RAN. I spent the whole weekend on it and emailed it to both Tom and Chad on Monday.

I instantly heard back from Chad. He wanted to set up a face-to-face with himself, so that was what I was going into yesterday morning.

I didn't do any more research because at this point I've worked for free for them a whole weekend and I really feel like I had a good idea of what they needed and where I could help them.

So I got there and met Chad. It was a *great* 30 minute interview but he stopped me to bring in his VP, the Director of Advertising and "everything else." This VP was there to "pick my brain and ask me questions and find out how I tick and solve problems."

Great! I'm a big girl and I feel confident that I can do this job, have done tons of research on their web presence and SEM opportunities and have had two really great interviews. They told me I was one of their two final candidates, so yay! Bring it on! This isn't scary - right?

Yeah it was awful.

VP comes in and tells me all about himself and how he has no background in advertising, he's all about analytics and number crunching and percentages and performance/results. (I majored in English. Yayyyyyyyy. not).

He tells me that SEM (Search Engine Marketing, the main task of the job I'm interviewing for and something I've been doing for two years), is NOT really marketing. Gives me a textbook definition of SEM and says that is not what it is. And when I gently say "but it is..." he says "no." So we move on, agreeing to disagree I guess...

Then he looks down at my resume and sees that I majored in English; emphasis in Technical Writing. This is within 5 minutes of meeting him. He says, and I quote: "Why would ANYONE on Earth want to major in Technical Writing? You took all the fun stuff; creative writing, literature, reading, and you went for the most bland, boring, dry, basic degree you could get."

I'm thinking "You've got to be kidding me. He just insulted my degree, something I worked my tail off for, something I actually *love* and am talented at. WTF?!"

I respond with "Well actually those other things aren't fun for me. I really enjoy technical writing, I have a strong voice and a good ethos. I enjoy researching my audience, compartmentalizing information and putting together a well-written document that is informative without waxing on."

The rest of the interview was him asking me some pretty ridiculous questions and then ripping my answers apart while I desperately tried to stay positive, upbeat and strong. Everything I said he spinned into a negative situation or a negative response. He called me "aggressive" because I had done so much research on their company and identified where I could help. He said I was "cocky" because I spoke about my experience with my current company. He said I was "opinionated" because I believed the things I said.

(Note: I even stopped to ask him twice "Please tell me what I've done to give you that impression because I would love to learn from this experience" and he said "no, we're certainly learning..." I also tried to defend myself saying "I'm a very open minded person." But he took that as "easy to influence" and called me "defensive.")

Where *I* come from those traits are called "proactive," "confident," and "convicted." He also said that I would rely on my past experiences to do the job for them. Uhh... duh.

So eventually he left and Chad came back. Chad kinda grimaced and asked how it went... I said "well it was okay, he said I was aggressive, I tend to describe myself as energetic and bubbly, sooo..." Yeah.

Anyway, Chad and I had a great conversation, lots of laughs, I hit all his SEM questions out of the park and he totally agreed with everything I said. He ended the interview with a "we'll be in touch, and if you aren't selected for this position it is by NO means because we aren't thoroughly impressed and I will keep you in mind for any future positions with us because I'd love to work with you."

Great.

So now I'm waiting for a call. My co-worker knows a girl in their advertising department and by 2:00 yesterday they were calling him for a reference for me (which is kinda weird b/c they asked me for no references and I didn't provide any... shady...).

So if you made it this far - what do you think?

Was this guy really that big of a prick or was he playing good cop/bad cop?

Was he really offensive or was he trying to put me on the spot and test my patience?

Should I imagine that he wouldn't really be that much of a prick to work for or be thankful that I found out what a meanie this guy is BEFORE I accepted the job?

Personally, from some of the things he said in the interview, I really believe that he totally hated me. So I expect one of two calls:

1. I'm sorry SC but we've decided to award the position to our other candidate. Thanks for playing and good luck. (This is the call I'm hoping for man, seriously, I am so turned off from this company now.)

or

2. Congratulations SC you passed our insane-highpressure-insulting-VP stress test and were successful despite his hardest efforts to throw you off and make you uncomfortable! Come work for us! (This is the only way I would accept this position. A mere "we decided to offer you the position" with no explanation of that guy's douchebaggery just isn't enough.)

Thoughts? Anyone else ever experience a negative interview like this? I really want to learn from this experience but mostly I just want to punch something. :confused1:
 
Jun 25, 2008
19,957
10
Hmm...:thinking:

It's hard to say without being privy to the conversation because of what he said, how he said it, and how you took it. For example, you took what he said about your degree as an insult, but he might be one of those people who just says what he's thinking...maybe he was being sarcastic or even funny...testing you a bit. IDK. Maybe he was a total pr#ck, or maybe you were a bit touchy. Who knows. I don't see anything shady at all about the references. People nowadays make them up, give out their friends' phone numbers, etc.--these are useless. I would do what they did. Call and ask around. They're probably doing a background check on you, too.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I'm intrigued. I hope you hear back soon. Good luck (either way).
 

SeriouslyChic

Kitty Squisher
O.G.
Thanks karmen! Yeah it was pretty difficult to try to convey the details of the convo... I just had such a internal feeling of doom. I bartended my way through school and I'm pretty good at reading people and responding/adapting to their humor and idiosyncrasies but this guy just really left me feeling uncomfortable, insecure and downright awful.

I guess I'm just curious to see if anyone else has ever been tested like this... pushed and pushed... throughout it all I just kept a polite smile and a gentle but firm confidence. I don't know... I guess we'll just wait and see.

And to the references thing, yes I agree that it was resourceful of them, I just wasn't expecting it. But good point.

Thanks for responding. I'll update this with however it turns out... whenever that may be.
 

intheevent

D. IT IS WRITTEN
O.G.
Nov 4, 2006
1,527
1
Chicago
I've been pushed in interviews but never to quite that degree. I've had people play "devils advocate" and point out what they perceive as problems or differnces of opinion. Strangely those interviews have been for the jobs I was OFFERED!

It probably wasn't as confrontational as it felt. They probably just wanted to dig deeper to see how your mind works, how you make decisions, how quickly you think on your feet, how you handle confrontation, how you handle criticism. There are vetain interview techniques that suggest that approach, behavioral based but maybe not to that degree. I was pretty tough on people I interviewed. It costs a lot for a company to hire and train and if you make the wrong decision you have to live with it for a long time so I put people through the ringer. Once they worked with me they even said how surprised they were that I was actually nice! I think you did ok, and they wouldn't bother checking references if you failed. Trust me they won't waste the time if you are not at least still in the running. I will stay tuned to see how it works out.

Good luck!
 

i_wona

like two plums
O.G.
Jan 10, 2007
7,209
1
Australia
WHOA. I don't even know what to say except that I am so impressed with your answers and the way you dealth with the whole situation. I would not have been as strong as you, given the pressure you were under and the confrontational nature of the interview.

I have no advice - sorry! All I can say is that you should be proud of the way you handled it...
 

CHmyloves

Hopelessly Addicted
Aug 6, 2008
525
0
Vancouver
I think he was trying to push your buttons, you know, trying to get you to crack and falter. I have to admit, I'd do the same thing. I can only imagine how many rehearsed interviews they've heard, and perhaps saw something a little different in you and decided to test you.

Hopefully everything works out well for you! Good luck.:sweatdrop:
 
May 7, 2007
1,900
0
I think you did GREAT at the interview, and I hope you get the job. The VP sounds kinda pushy and aggressive. Maybe he thought you were overqualified.. IDK.. Maybe he's playing a game to test you..
 

Cornflower Blue

Member
O.G.
Feb 27, 2008
5,807
189
I'm amazed you actually managed to keep your cool and think you handled the situation brilliantly!:yes:

Imo, he was either 'testing' you (and if you get the job I hope he makes that plain) or he may have actually felt threatened somehow due to your level of knowledge and experience, in which case it's going to be pretty uncomfortable if he's going to be your boss.

All you can do is wait and see if you get the job, and if you do, maybe you could have a word with Chad about it all before you accept it? You've 'got a few questions' sort of thing?

Good luck whatever happens!
 

SeriouslyChic

Kitty Squisher
O.G.
I've been pushed in interviews but never to quite that degree. I've had people play "devils advocate" and point out what they perceive as problems or differnces of opinion. Strangely those interviews have been for the jobs I was OFFERED!

It probably wasn't as confrontational as it felt. They probably just wanted to dig deeper to see how your mind works, how you make decisions, how quickly you think on your feet, how you handle confrontation, how you handle criticism. There are vetain interview techniques that suggest that approach, behavioral based but maybe not to that degree. I was pretty tough on people I interviewed. It costs a lot for a company to hire and train and if you make the wrong decision you have to live with it for a long time so I put people through the ringer. Once they worked with me they even said how surprised they were that I was actually nice! I think you did ok, and they wouldn't bother checking references if you failed. Trust me they won't waste the time if you are not at least still in the running. I will stay tuned to see how it works out.

Good luck!
THIS was exactly the kind of response I posted for. I've *never* been on that side of the fence and I was wondering if maybe that's what this was all about. Thank you for sharing because this helped me. A lot.

My BF actually feels the same way but he also can see where I would be flat turned off... honestly, now I really feel like I can't do the job properly, like I'm not what they're looking for. It's all rather unsettling.
 

SeriouslyChic

Kitty Squisher
O.G.
I'm amazed you actually managed to keep your cool and think you handled the situation brilliantly!:yes:

Imo, he was either 'testing' you (and if you get the job I hope he makes that plain) or he may have actually felt threatened somehow due to your level of knowledge and experience, in which case it's going to be pretty uncomfortable if he's going to be your boss.

All you can do is wait and see if you get the job, and if you do, maybe you could have a word with Chad about it all before you accept it? You've 'got a few questions' sort of thing?

Good luck whatever happens!
Okay that was TOTALLY my next question. If they make me an offer, I plan on asking "Who will this position fall under?" and "Can I meet the team I'll be working with?" and "Who will I be spending the majority of my training/introductory time with?"

To be honest I'm so turned off by the whole experience that I really don't want the job too much anymore.

I *have* a job, there was a threat of downsizing but it's a small company, I spoke with my CEO and he has assured me that I'm too important for him to lose. I have taken a pay cut but will have a job for as long as I want one... and the current job, while I'm not being paid super well anymore, is full of people who LOVVVVE me.

So yeah, I've got some questions to ask - but is that even cool at this point?
 

SeriouslyChic

Kitty Squisher
O.G.
Thank you PrinceAbdullah, CHmyloves and i_wona, I felt really uncomfortable while the interview was going on... my eyes may have even glossed over because I know at one point I wasn't hearing what he was saying but just thinking "do. not. want!" lol. Thanks for the confidence. It *really* helps me feel a little better about this sitch. :heart:
 

Vegas Long Legs

Traveler
Nov 13, 2006
11,009
10
Okay that was TOTALLY my next question. If they make me an offer, I plan on asking "Who will this position fall under?" and "Can I meet the team I'll be working with?" and "Who will I be spending the majority of my training/introductory time with?"

To be honest I'm so turned off by the whole experience that I really don't want the job too much anymore.

I *have* a job, there was a threat of downsizing but it's a small company, I spoke with my CEO and he has assured me that I'm too important for him to lose. I have taken a pay cut but will have a job for as long as I want one... and the current job, while I'm not being paid super well anymore, is full of people who LOVVVVE me.

So yeah, I've got some questions to ask - but is that even cool at this point?
You need to be REALLY comfortable before you leave a position where you are respected & secure. Being comfortable going into work & enjoying who you work with is something you can't put a price on. And we don't really appreciate that till we don't have it anymore.

He sounds like a total a$$. You probably did threaten him with your knowledge. I'm guessing Chad & the group got his number.
 

purly

ALL THE BAGS!
O.G.
Sep 30, 2006
4,988
111
Austin, TX
He sounds like he didn't care much about the interview or the job, but that he was required to interview you.
 

serene

Vintage since '08
O.G.
Mar 23, 2008
3,596
520
York
haha :biggrin: I can add few too..

I wanted to get a part-time job from various clothe-stores so I went to give them my cv and got actually a phone call from one.
It's just that my cell didn't work that well anymore and I was in a bus and it was really loud at that time so I missed half of what she said on the phone. I did hear that she wanted to meet me and we would meet at the local coffee shop.
But it was just that I didn't hear what store was she presenting and I did gave my cv also to that coffee shop so I naturally thought that it was the boss of that coffee shop :P
So I wanted this time to skip some of the work-experience papers and just concentrate on those what where about working at restaurants, cafeterias etc.
When I found her sitting she asked straight away why did I think that I would be the perfect one for this job and I started to tell what I had learnd and done at my previous jobs and that talk lasted really long.. after that she said that this was actually job interview about a clothe-store across the road.. :faint:

Ok so I totally messed it up :sweatdrop: now I'm just laughing to it and lucky for me I didn't need that job anyway that much.. just wanted to get extra money for stuff.. I can still remember the man who was sitting next to us and he tried not to laugh when he listened our conversation.. :P

second one was when I was applying this internet-job and I thought that because I have quite long metro-drive to that interview place I could give me a little treat and buy hot chocolate! But when I was in metro it suddenly stopped and I spilled the chocolate on my shirt!!!! I did have a jacket on me but it was seriously hot at that day so.. :nogood:
But I got there little early so I asked the receptionist can I use the bathroom to try clean myself and shoved my shirt :sweatdrop: we laugh a little and she showed me the way there.
I didn't get the stain of my shirt (I didn't expect to get it off actually but I needed to try anyway) and when I met my interview lady she asked if I wanted to take my coat off I explained to her what happened and we laughed and I kept my coat on :biggrin: better to be little sweaty under it than look dirty infront of her I thought..
But I got this job!! been in it now 1,5years and had a raise about two-three times (one big one but then those small ones what I don't really understand but raise is a raise) and now it's funding my university studies and helping me saving for my first house :tup: had one really confusing fired-experience when that company united with another company but then they re-hired me back so I wasn't really jobless at all.