Positively Critical

"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don't wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope." — Barack Obama

10 Ways to Screw Up a Job Interview

I previously posted this on a different blog of mine in November 2011, but given my recent adventures in job hunting, I thought it appropriate to bring it out of the vault and review a few essential tips.

As teacher coordinator in a language services consultancy in Madrid, my daily responsibilities include hiring, training and supervising teachers. After just a few weeks on the job, I’ve learned a lot about the recruiting process, mostly through first-hand experience with applicants. They’ve taught me that the job comes with all kinds of moments: the joyful ones – when you manage to hire an excellent and committed professional; the ‘Phew!-I-dodged-a-bullet’ kind, when you realize early on that the person is less than a perfect fit with the company; and the ‘What-the-hell-where-you-thinking’ kind, when applicants pull some of the most outrageous – and sometimes hilarious – stunts. Here are a few basic missteps that will most likely guarantee you an extended membership in the terminally unemployed sector of the economy:

1 – Send a noticeably childish resume – There’s nothing better than having an inappropriately colorful resume to look at. You want your resume to be a reflection of who you really are. So it’s OK to use pink font and add little animal characters next to your name. That way, you’ll feel very happy when you stare at it every day, once you wallpaper your room with it – because that’s as far as it’s going to go.

2 – Contact the recruiter incessantly – People in human resources love getting emails. Between the hiring, firing and supervising, they get an average of 200 emails each day. It doesn’t matter how you make yourself be noticed, it just matters that you do. So make sure you email the interviewer every day, three times a day. That’ll make him or her love you…

3 – Lie – During the candidate pre-selection process, interviewers will sometimes call you and ask a few unimportant questions related to your legal status in the country and your availability. Lie through your teeth. They don’t mind booking hundreds of interviews with illegal immigrants and people who are not really available to commit to a long-term position. It’s all part of the fun! Besides, at least they get to meet new people, you know?

4 – Don’t shower before the interview – Forgetting to wear deodorant just won’t cut it. Make sure you build up a sweat the day before and go to bed without showering. That way you’ll really be certain that you’re being hard on everybody’s nose.

5 – Take off your shoes – Because that’s the most obvious thing to do while waiting for your interview to start. They wouldn’t put a sofa and coffee table at the reception area if they didn’t want you to make yourself comfortable, right?

6 – Complain about the interview process – I like it when candidates question the fact that we test them on their lesson planning skills and grammar knowledge. It’s also good for you to question the validity of the skills they’re testing. One candidate, for example, told me he didn’t really believe in lesson planning because it felt too constricting. He’ll forever be in my book as being very professional about his job…

7 – Make lots of demands – Interviewers love it when people walk into an interview making lots of demands about scheduling, tasks and pay. Just make sure you do it right from the start. Immediately assume you’re getting the job, as it will add that special touch. Besides, you’re already so darn fabulous, who wouldn’t want to hire you?

8 – Point out all of your flaws – Once, I was really impressed by this Russian lady who was applying for a job as an English teacher. She kept going on and on about how she wasn’t sure if I’d like to hire her or not because, after all, she wasn’t a native speaker. The only thing that could’ve made the interview go even better would’ve been to have a couple of tears thrown into the pity party.

9 – Forget everything you wrote on your resume – Really, why would anyone ask you questions about your past experience. The reason you brought in a resume in the first place was to tell them about it. Can’t they read?

10 – Finally, there’s no better way to ensure success than by trashing your potential boss’s credentials. – As a solid language consultancy in Madrid, we have good relationships with a couple of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) training programs in the city. During one of the interview rounds at one of the programs, I met this girl with a strong teaching background, who kept complaining about the teaching method taught at the TEFL program. She insisted that native English speakers don’t know how to properly speak the language and that the method being used for teaching was ineffective. I’m still wondering if it ever occurred to her that I might be TEFL certified as well…


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