Q: I’ve recently had a bad interview experience – one of the interviewers left the room twice to take phone calls – and I was wondering about similar experiences others have encountered? I need something to make me feel a little better about this disaster. (CF, email).
A: Over the years, I’ve heard about a lot of stories about questionable interview behaviour. The answering-the-phone one is one I’ve heard a few times before and, in one case, the interviewer didn’t leave the room at all – rather he talked away in the room. Here are some others, writes Liam Horan, career coach, Sli Nua Careers.
- Just this week, a client told me that the chairperson of the interview panel abruptly told him “we are running a bit late, and I have to be out of here in 20 minutes, so when the buzzer on this phone goes, the interview is over”;
- One that happened to me fadó fadó – my interview had to be called off there and then because a key person didn’t turn up. This was a second interview called to allow this person to review the three remaining candidates. It was before mobile phones so there was no way of getting in touch with me as I travelled from Mayo to Dublin for the interview;
- Panellist texting repeatedly throughout the interview;
- Panellist mumbling questions in an indecipherable manner – causing the candidate to ‘wing it’ after twice asking her to repeat the question and not feeling like they could ask her a third time;
- Candidate was asked to account for her choice of clothes. “They were a bit loud, but that’s how I like to wear my clothes,” she told me. In the interview, she told them she objected to the question;
- One candidate had been allotted the pre-lunch slot. Things ran a bit late. The panel blithely told him they would interview him after lunch. By the time he sat in front of them, it was a full two hours and ten minutes after the appointed time.