13 Dec 2021

Your embarrassing interview stories

The results are in! We had dozens of brilliant entries for our embarrassing interviews competition, but our judges have chosen a winner (plus two runners-up). Thank you to all those who entered. And here, for your enjoyment, are the top three!

Winner

I was being interviewed for a job via an online platform. I had set the room up nicely and positioned myself well – or so I thought. As I was responding to the fifth or so question, I suddenly noticed in the corner of my screen my dog busy getting jiggy with a floor cushion. Mortified, I adjusted myself discreetly, so my dog was now behind me. I could see the two interviewers on screen trying not to laugh. This was quickly interrupted by my dog breaking wind, which led the interviewers to start laughing and me to turn red. Humiliated I quickly said ‘That wasn’t me!’ Which seemed to make the situation more funny. I asked if I could let my dog out, but the interviewers said I had to introduce him first! Thankfully they had a sense of humour... JD

Runners up

One of the panel asked me what I was doing this week. I replied "Personally or professionally?" It sounded as though I presumed he was asking me on a date. The rest of the panel burst into laughter, and I immediately realised what I'd said. It was extremely awkward. However I did end up working with them for 5 years after that. So I must have said something right. - LB

I had an interview with the local school board after the lunch hour. I was sure my suit was pressed, hair impeccable and my breath fresh! Well imagine my surprise when I got into the car AFTER the interview to find a large piece of lettuce stuck to my tooth, making me look not only toothless but I’m quite sure resembling a pirate!  - KT

Top tips to avoid interview embarrassment

•Check out the company beforehand to ensure that your clothes are in line with the prevailing culture. You’ll want to look smart, but a city suit and tie will look incongruous if everybody is in jeans and trainers.

•Research the route to the office and public transport options. Ensure that you arrive with plenty of time to spare.

•Before you enter the building give yourself a quick check in the mirror so that you can detect any embarrassing defects in your appeareance.

•At the interview, be wary of over-familiarity – it might be a test. It’s best to be polite, but not ingratiatingly so.

• Questions should be answered as directly as possible – experienced panels and interviewers have a built-in radar for recognising waffle.  

•If you don’t understand the question, say so, and ask for it to be repeated, or rephrased or explained.

• A deliberate pause when you are asked a question will not be detrimental – it shows that you are thinking about your answer.

•Sit upright, don’t cross your arms, and if you want to cross your legs be unostentatious about it. Try and keep your hands still and avoid fiddling with your face, hair or nails.

•If you’re really uncomfortable, then say so. Maybe there is something wrong with your chair, or you’re drenched with sweat. If you’re overcome it’s best to ask for a break in proceedings.

• It’s quite permissible to ask about the salary, conditions of employment, whether there is a staff canteen, etc etc. It isn’t a good idea to ask if you can have the first two weeks off in June before you’ve even been offered the job.

•If you’re having a video interview do your best to ensure that your backdrop is neat and tidy; it’s best if it looks bland rather than cluttered and messy.

•Guard against interruptions in video interviews by forewarning everyone in your household. Be especially vigilant about barring entry to small children and pets. If they breach your defences, be upfront and apologetic – don’t try and hide their activities from your interviewers.

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