I guess you came here expecting the usual recruiter making fun of candidates, telling you all the shit things they’ve seen them do at interview. Wrong! It’s Thursday, it’s been a long week and I’ve been ill. I did come across one of those articles from my death bed, and it got me thinking about the shit show that’s been my path to where I am now. There are plans for some general ‘My Biggest Career/Life Fails’ blogs, but today I’ll tell you about my worst interview.

I was in my first job in London. I’d moved from living in a caravan on a rural Scottish farm – yes, I know… (shit show path, like I said). I arrived by myself, not knowing a soul, with one months rent and no job. I pretty much took the first (credible) thing I was offered and without boring you with the details – it was bizarre. The job itself wasn’t, but operationally *head explodes*. I was unhappy, things weren’t stable there and I had rent to pay, so I decided to look around.

The interview was for an Account Manager at a software company in Hammersmith. Seemed like a cool role. It paid well, jazzy location. Tick, tick, tick. The morning of the interview came, and I called in sick – as you do, just to really maximise the potential for anxiety. I got myself ready; smart trousers, heels that hurt my feet before I even left home, cropped blazer which had no buttons (on purpose) with cute cropped sleeves and a nice long white top underneath. My long hair blow dried to perfection, I set off for the tube with my interview folder and a small handbag full of essentials

The meeting was in the afternoon, round 2pm. I’d already gotten a few calls from work, and the anxiety that they knew something was up was rising. On my way out, it became necessary for what I call ‘the pre-lie’ (you know the ones, cover your back before its needed). I said ‘if you guys call me again, I really need to get some rest and sleep so I might not answer’, to justify why if they called again my mobile would be off (i.e. out of signal and underground or ignored from an interview). Anxiety levels currently 75%.

I reached Hammersmith with perfect time and checked my phone for missed calls – there were some, and texts from my Managing Director asking me to call when I got his voicemails. Anxiety level – 85%…

Stepping out of the station on what was a fair to middling day, feet throbbing already, I knew it was less than a 10-minute walk to the location (from the map I’d had to memorise, as it was pre Google maps/iPhone). Expecting to arrive bang on time – I was taken aback to find that the street was made up of what I can only describe as garages and sheds. Nothing was clearly signposted, no numbers, just units and a lot of tiny lanes. Arrrrgggghhhhhh. Anxiety level – 90%….

As my final obstacle, the sky turned dark. I heard a rumble, and then it came. The rain shower of all rain showers. This thing was f*cking biblical. And I had no ‘coat’, no buttons on my stupid blazer, no umbrella, and no idea where the f*ck this office was with about 3 mins to spare. I desperately asked directions while the rain made an absolute mockery of me and I found the door to their office. With hair stuck to my head, water dripping off my face, nice white top entirely see-through under my buttonless blazer, I opened it. Right into the middle of the f*cking office and everyone who worked there. Someone, please kill me. Anxiety level [error].

They ran around getting me towels and offering me hot drinks like I was someone who’d just been in a bad traffic accident or had seen my house burn down. Then I quietly waited on a seat in front of them all, holding a towel with my embarrassing hair, smeared make up and see through booby top for the company owner and interviewer to call me in. ‘Stay calm, this is a much bigger deal to you than it is to them’ was the mantra. Interview went well. I felt I answered all his questions solidly, he seemed impressed.

Then:

Him – ‘So, can you tell me why it is you’re looking to leave your current role, do they know you’re interviewing?’

Me – SILENCE. HOT FACE. EYES BURNING. TEARS WELLING – do NOT cry!!!! Not after all this?! WTF.

I took a deep breath and held it, as if starving my eyeballs of oxygen would stop the imminent humiliation of what was about to happen. Eventually, I got my shit together and told him everything, the absolute truth. All of it. How I’d had to call in sick, how they kept checking on me, how I knew they were suspicious…. And I just managed not to full blown cry. I still don’t know if he noticed how close it was.

Long story short(er), I didn’t get that job. I DID get offered a slightly more junior role to allow me to learn the software first, and I declined. After all that, I f*cking rejected it! I felt too guilty and I went straight to my work and told them all that had happened that day. They did know. Someone I trusted had told them. And I stayed in that role, for 10 more months – and then I left, to briefly work as a street fundraiser. Again – I know… I have so many stories…

So, there you have it. I now interview for a living, and I’m good at it. I tell people how to conduct themselves at interview, cos I’m good at them. Now… But even I’ve had my bad days. Recruiters aren’t all bad, the ones who remember what it’s like to be a candidate and have some empathy are the best kind.

If you’ve already had a shocker (feel free to share it!), or even if you haven’t – get in touch today and we’ll try and stop them happening to you (again)!