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Over the past few years I have interviewed a lot of individuals for digital marketing related roles including SEO, PPC, Social, Analytics and Content. A lot of the time, interviews run pretty smoothly and you get an idea of how the interview is going to pan out right from the very start. However, there have been some occasions where I have interviewed people and some of the things they come out with are shocking!
This got me thinking about the stories that other people in the digital marketing industry have got when it comes to interviews so I reached out to a few of them to get their input. To say I was surprised with some of the stories is an absolute understatement! I just can’t believe some of the things that interviewees have actually said during an interview.
In this post, I want to share some of the stories with you and if you have any of your own that you want to share, please feel free to drop them in the comments section at the end. If you would prefer to be included anonymously, drop me an email using this form.
Firstly, I need to thank the people that have made this post possible. The stories shown in this post are not tied back to the individuals that shared them directly but they have all helped me compile the stories to share with you.
The Nut Sack
We asked a person to tell us a bit about herself, she went on about her qualifications and hobbies etc and finished it with an awesome “that’s me in a nut sack” instead of the more obvious “that’s me in a nutshell”. She didn’t even blink when she realised what she said.
University graduate came into the office for an interview and the conversation went as follows:
Company – What do you know about SEO?
Graduate – Well, I know you gotta phone Google every day and tell them where to put your website so I know enough
Safe to say, he did not get the job!
I’m on Tag
I once interviewed this brilliant girl; she was dynamic, educated, top notch. She filled out her application form, no criminal record, no current CCJs, etc. But I asked her to come back the next day to meet our Director to which her response was: ‘Oooh, what time? I’m on tag for aggravated assault so have to be home at 3pm everyday.’
When I asked her why she had filled out her form saying no to all of them she said, ‘Well, everyone lies a bit don’t they?’ I had to pick my jaw off the floor.
Tearjerker in the Sea
I had to let a candidate know they sadly hadn’t got a role and he started crying asking why he wasn’t good enough. I felt so bad I stayed on the phone for over an hour (no joke) giving him interview tips and telling him not to worry, there were plenty more fish in the sea…
Relationship Problems at the Start
We had a guy apply for a job, and then we asked him to submit a completed monitoring form (a confidential form asking about your religious background, which is legally required in Northern Ireland and used to determine if companies have bias in selecting employees). The guy declined to submit the form, and replied saying that “If life taught me one thing it’s that if a relationship starts with problems there is more to come.”
An interview I held featured the classic response to the question, “Why do you want this position rather than promotion you look like you will get within your current team?” The response: “Because it pays more and looks like it’s much easier work and I don’t like working too hard.”
I am so not prepared
When you go for an interview, most people prepare a little bit and would at least know something about the company they are being interviewed by. A guy came in for an SEO role and one of the first questions I always ask is “What do you know about the company?” He replied with “My friend is getting married abroad soon so I haven’t had time to prepare anything for the interview.”
It wasn’t even his own wedding. He did not get the job!
Sour Grapes from a Know-it-all
A candidate came for an interview, and from the first minute we realised we’d made an error asking him to come in. He gave mono-syllabic answers, had no spark or drive at all, and gave nonsensical answers to many questions.
Me – What do you think will be hard about this job?
Him – Eh, nothing really, I’m kinda good at everything.
When we sent him our ‘dear john’ letter, he sent us a snarky email about how we were a crap company and he didn’t want the job anyway.
Gold Fish Lover
We have gold fish in our meeting room which have been part of the company for years. When an interviewee came in and was asked if they had any final questions, they replied with “I don’t have anything really but I would like to know if you have goldfish in every room in the building as I do love goldfish”.
I Heart Ann Summers
The interview was going really well until we asked the candidate to tell us abit about PPC and how AdWords campaigns are run. She thought about this for a while before proceeding to tell us about the Ann Summers Hung Parliament campaign for 10 minutes, going into detail about the different products on offer!
I am a convict…. Get me outta here
By the time the interview finished I already decided I didn’t like the bloke but asked the question “is there anything else you want to ask or say?”
He replied with “I need to leave early on Tuesdays and Thursdays” to which I responded with a simple “Why?”
He replied with “Because I have got to go to my probation as I was convicted of having held and made copies of indecent images of children”.
I was in shock for about a week after the interview finished!
It’s not a Big Issue
10 years ago, I had a job interview at Big Issue HQ. The woman interviewing me told me that their biggest challenge was people thought they were a big organisation with big resources, and they weren’t.
She looked at me expectantly, awaiting my considered thoughts. But pumped up on caffeine, my mind blanked.
My reply: “Perhaps you should call it the Little Issue instead…”
Her glare told me what I already knew: I didn’t get the job.
Alcohol is my Weakness
Interviewer – “Do you have any weaknesses?”
Interviewee – “Alcohol”
The Tea Maker
I answered the question “what do you think you’ll bring to the team” with something like “I will happily make everyone cups of tea.”
The Erotic Movie Maker
In a previous job, I was reviewing CVs, one of which included “erotic movie making” as non-work interests. He got an interview for that reason alone!
I’ll do anything for you…
I was offered a choice of sexual favours, phrased as “a thank-you-for-the-job” in the preliminary chat to the interview. She said “I know you HAVE to give me the job as long as I don’t mess up this interview” (well -known internal hiring preference rules at that time and she was the only remaining internal applicant in the second round of interviews).
Needless to say that counted as messing up the interview! +1 for honesty but that’s not going to get you onto any team where I am responsible for workload you don’t get done. I don’t care if they are D cups and you are uber proud of them, they don’t work for me.
The Car Breakdown
Not in a typical interview situation but I had a candidate break down en route and call me to say they would be late just as I was stuck in a jam getting there myself.
Turns out the cause of the jam was my candidate’s old banger conking out on the slip road – ended up helping push it to the side, calling the recovery truck and interviewing him in my car as we drove to the office.
I feel it’s time to spread my legs… ummmm wings
When I worked in the travel industry, I was interviewing a Modern Apprentice trainee travel consultant aged 19 who worked in a branch. She was applying for a full-time travel consultant position within a call centre. She was the most unbelievably nervous candidate I’ve ever interviewed.
I asked her why she wanted to leave the comfort of a small branch near her home to a large call centre with significantly more commuting.
She replied “Well, the branch is great and all, but they have me making lots of tea and stocking up the brochures on the shelves. I’ve booked quite a few holidays for customers and I just feel it’s about time that I spread my LEGS”
Obviously she meant to say “spread my wings” and this was a Freudian slip – but at the exact same time I was drinking a glass of water.
I spluttered it everywhere and choked. She carried on wittering, completely oblivious to what she’d said.
So there you have it, a nice bit of light reading full of hints and tips of things you should avoid saying and doing in job interviews. Always go in with a clear head and a plan of what you want to say. You don’t want to be caught out in a situation that you are not prepared for!
As I mentioned at the start of this post, if you do want to share any interview stories that you have please leave a comment below or alternatively, you can message me using this form so you don’t need to share publicly. I will then update this post as more stories come in.
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