Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interview Advice - Don't Tell Uncomfortable Stories

I once was in an interview where the potential employee started to tell me a story that made me extremely uncomfortable.  I usually try to engage in a little bit of light conversation when I start an interview to make the candidate at ease.  I normally introduce myself so the candidate has a sense of who I am and the conversation can happen naturally.  When I told this particular candidate about where I had worked in the past, he started on a tirade about why he hated my old company.  This was not a passing comment that he made.  He proceeded to go on for about five minutes about why the place I worked at was pure evil.  He was very adamant about the whole situation an it made me feel unbelievably uncomfortable throughout the whole thing.  Needless to say I did not give him a hire.  Till this day, it is still a story that we talk about when we talk about odd things that happen in interviews.

So here is some really simple advice for people who are about to interview.  You want to be thoughtful and engaging.  You definitely want to be remembered.  You just want to be remembered for the right reason.  Tell a unique story.  Throw in some humor if you can.  But under no circumstance should you make the interviewer become uncomfortable.  That means you should not do the following:

  • rant on about why you hate your current job

  • tell a personally embarrassing story like how drunk you got this one time

  • go into a tirade about how underpaid you have been in the past

  • how cute you think your interviewer is

  • why you hate something about your interviewer

The saddest thing about this list?  I actually know of or have been part of instances like this.  So please, stay on topic.  Be professional.  Even if the place you are going to go to is extremely casual and fun, that does not mean you should feel free to talk about anything I have mentioned.

Do any of you have examples of when you have been uncomfortable because of something someone said during an interview?


  1. I once had a guy actually scream at me that I didn't know what the heck I was talking about to a problem I had him try to solve. That guy didn't get hired.

  2. I wonder which empire you previously worked for could possibly have a reputation for being evil.... :-)

  3. Yeah. It was amazing to me how long this interviewee went on about how evil it was. Given how big Microsoft is, and how I had nothing to do with what he was mad about, it was somewhat comical how this interviewee couldn't let it go.

  4. Some people make mistakes or talk too much because their nervous but it sounds like your guy needed to get it off his chest.

    Interviewees need to be positive and comment positively. You don't need to lie if you don't like a company for whatever reason. Mention it and move on but you never want to focus on that negativity.

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