I have been out of work now for nearly three months, longer than ever before, including when I moved back to the UK in the middle of a recession.
From what I hear from recruiters, hiring managers and job seekers it is a tough market out there with 100-200 people applying for the same roles as me. So when I get an interview, it’s a big deal.
This morning I followed up with an application for a Admin/ PA role for a design company, to my delight I was asked in to go in for an interview, this afternoon. Excellent!
I got to the office a few minutes early, feeling pretty confident about the job, how I would answer any questions & the questions I had up my sleeve for the end of the interview (I have a couple of knock-their-socks-off that always get a good response).
What I was NOT expecting was to be asked if I had ever cried at work.
I’ve been to interviews before where they through in a few ‘quirky’ questions, to get an idea of the candidate’s personality & generally speaking, this is fine. THIS interview however, seemed to ONLY be made up of quirky questions.
I was called into the Boardroom and greeted by two men, one who was the owner of the company the other who I presume was his right hand man (it was never explain what he did – alarm bell No. 1). From here on I will call them Bloke1 (B1) and Bloke2 (B2).
Bloke2 started to tell me about the role, what they expected of the role & the duties, all fairly standard. Bloke1 then jumped in & told me more about the company, what they did and their clients. Again, fairly standard.
I explained my background, what I was looking for in a role, the type of company I wanted to work for.
Then I was asked “if there was a newspaper article about you, what would the headline be?” Erm, ok. I umm’d about it for a second & said something along the lines of “Best-Selling Author has Record Sales”.
Next question. “If you were given six months to live, what would you spend your time doing?” I told them that I would quit my job & travel before spending time with my friends & family. At this stage I was starting to think this was a bit odd.
“If I gave you a project, first of all you have to tell me if it’s possible & how you would go about it. The project is to design a bicycle for a blind person.” I responded that I thought it would be possible and that I would take a bike, attach canes to the front left & right and the rear left and right, then install a camera to record the area around the bike & convert this to a speaking voice. Personally, I think this is a genius answer, and no, you can’t steal it.
We were 3 quirky questions in. Surely now I was going to be asked about my experience, my capabilities, ANYTHING relating to me in a professional capacity.
“How to you react when someone is very blunt to you?” I responded that I didn’t like it normally, but that I tend to brush these things off.
“Have you ever cried at work?” I asked him to repeat the question, thinking (hoping) I had misheard.
“Have you ever cried at work?” I laughed, a short, nervous ha, before asking Bloke1, “Erm… have you?” He laughed a ‘don’t be silly I am a man’ laugh.
“No. But I have made lots of people cry.” Right. Terrific.
I answer: “I’m really not sure if I have.”
Bloke2 chimes in. “You see, we tend to think 3 steps ahead of most people, so we can be very blunt with out directions” Gosh, aren’t you both very forward thinking and exceptional.
Bloke1 then says “I don’t think you are right for this job, I don’t think that you have a strong enough personality to deal with who I am.”
I respond “I think you are underestimating me and the type of people I have dealt with.” Not strong enough? What?!
Bloke1 “I think you are underestimating ME”.
I respond “Well, thank you very much for your time, but I think that I am most definitely NOT suitable for this job.”
When what I really meant was “This job is not suitable for anyone and you really shouldn’t be making people cry so regularly you have to include it in your interview, you absolute MENTAL!!”
Even now, hours later, I am STILL trying to comprehend what the FUCK happened in that interview. I am so shocked that we are in 2013 and people think this is an acceptable way to interview people. Honestly.