11 Women On The Job Interview They Totally Bombed
Job interviews can be extremely nerve-wracking. Sometimes, no matter how right you are for the job, how much you prepare your answers, or how good your new resume looks, once you say something weird the whole thing can end up being a disaster. But if you've ever bombed a job interview, know that you're not alone.
During a job interview several years ago, long before I became a full-time freelance writer, I sat across from two people interviewing me for an office manager position. When they asked me where I saw myself in five years, as every job interviewer has asked me, I was honest, "If all goes well, I'll be a writer with a couple published books by then." Having answered such a question the same exact way before, it didn't cross my mind that it might be the wrong response until one of them called me out on it by asking, "So you don't see yourself working here?" I immediately blushed and began to sweat.
When he told me my response wasn't what they were looking for, I began to sweat even more. I received my rejection via email less than 10 minutes later.
A lot of people have job interviews that don't go as planned. Here are 11 women on the interviews they totally bombed.
1. Alisha, 28
"I was scheduled to do have an interview for a teaching job that I really wanted. The challenge was that the job was through a video conferencing system and was on the East Coast. I lived on the West Coast and with the time change, the scheduled interview started at 6 a.m.. The only issue was that I had absolutely no experience teaching. So the interview started and I did a horrible job. My answers didn’t make sense and I was so nervous about what to say. It was clear that I didn’t have any experience and when I was asked about it I just froze and made up a lame answer that sounded hollow even to me. I was just happy when the interview ended. However, about six weeks later I got an email offering me the position. It was a miracle."
2. Lexia, 33
"I am a professional photographer, a luxury and destination wedding photographer who is very well-respected in my field with 10 years of experience. A few years ago, I decided I wanted to attempt the commercial photography market, so I applied for a photography assistant job at a commercial photography studio in Portland, Oregon, which I assumed I was so over-qualified for I would automatically get.
I went through three rounds of interviews, had to submit two different resumes, curate a specific portfolio for them... all for the job of cleaning lenses and getting coffee for the official photographer. When they finally put me in the studio to test me out, I realized I had no idea what to do. They just told me 'set up the studio with a medium gray backdrop and the profoto lights for a shoot at 1 p.m.' The problem was, in all my shooting experience in the field, I'd never had to set up a backdrop or use studio lights. I actually tore the backdrop (I thought that was what you were supposed to do?), I completely sweat through my shirt, and excused myself to the restroom where I hid for a good portion of the time while I considered making a break for it and exiting through the back door to make a run for my car. They emailed me back a week later, declining me for the position, and accidentally addressing me as 'Marie' instead of 'Lexia.' It was humbling, and I cried for two weeks, but still wrote a thank you note. I now know how to use studio lights AND backdrops."
3. Ahlam, 26
"When I first graduated nursing school I applied for a job that I thought I really wanted. It was to be a float nurse with babies and work with adults on a burn unit. I thought this is intense, I will be prepared, and thought to myself: 'I know I can get this.' I thought I did everything 'right;' you know, showed up 15 minutes early, dressed professionally, resume in hand, well... after waiting 45 minutes I asked the secretary if they were going to interview me today and it turned out the lady that was suppose to be interviewing me 'forgot' and she was going to get someone else to interview me.
If it couldn't get anymore unprofessional it did. The lady who interviewed me was coughing and sneezing so much that she had to get up and leave our interview; the 'important' interview I was so excited about. The whole interview lasted approximately five minutes. Needless to say I didn't get the job."
4. Carol, 46
"With an undergrad degree in sociology, psychology and a masters degree in management and human relations, I had anticipated working in the Department of Children and Family Services. The interview was going well until the interviewer asked the dreaded 'where do you see yourself in five years?' question. Having read up on the different positions, I replied that should I be accepted for the generalist position, and with demonstrated knowledge and excellent performance evaluations, I expected to be promoted to 'specialist' which was the next position step. Wishing to seem personable, I asked my interviewer whom, according to her name tag was a 'specialist,' how long she had worked for the agency. She replied that she had been there 14 years. So I asked how long she had been in the specialist position. To which she answered that she had just been promoted the past year. Talking about 'opening mouth and inserting foot.' I didn't get the job. Go figure."
5. Margaret, 29
"About five years ago, I was interviewing for a benefits specialist position. ... The interview went well until I became too comfortable when it came to the question: 'where do you see yourself in five years?' Instead of strengthening my prospects by talking about how I'd be an asset to the organization, I gave an animated response about my dream job. At some point, I think I remember saying I would love to build a hospital in Nigeria, be a health care executive, and revolutionize the healthcare industry. I basically made it obvious that this offer was just a stepping stone. Major oops! So, it didn't surprise me that I didn't get the job despite the fact that I'd been working there as an intern for about three months."
6. Michelle, 30
"I once was interviewing for a software engineering role that was front-end-focused (meaning I'd work on the visible parts of websites). When I asked the recruiter what I should do to prepare for the in-person technical interview, he advised me to study up on how to implement infinite scroll on a web page. I learned a few ways to do that and was ready to answer related questions. But when I got to the interview, I was asked about SQL [Structured Query Language]. I hadn't looked at any form of SQL for more than a year and was completely confounded. It was really embarrassing that I couldn't think of the right syntax for the simplest things.
I knew right then I wasn't going to get the job and couldn't wait to get out of there. To make things worse, a friend there had referred me and would certainly hear about my failure. On the bright side, I did a better job at doing general preparation for job interviews after that, and I learned not to completely rely on what a recruiter says."
7. Tami, 31
"I was applying for a position at a California-based news/pop-culture website... but several years before those kind of sites became mainstream. I was just about to graduate college. I had decent grades and had always kind of coasted through school, so I assumed getting my first job would be the same way. I did zero preparation and just planned on winging it. In fact, when the woman called for our phone interview, I had forgotten to account for the time difference and was at the mall shopping!
Instead of apologizing for my mistake and asking to reschedule like a professional adult, I figured I'd just go along with it and do the interview right there in the food court. It was a disaster from the start. The first question she asked me was why I wanted to work there. I spouted off a fib about how I admired their articles. She immediately followed up and asked which specific articles I liked. Obviously I hadn't read anything except the job application, so I was at a total loss for words. After a couple more extremely awkward exchanges like this, she said point blank, 'it's clear you haven't prepared at all for this interview, so I'm going to end it here,' and hung up on me. I was stunned and mortified.
To this day it's one of my most embarrassing professional memories, probably because I had clearly screwed up so royally and been bold enough to think I could get away with it. From then on, I prepared like crazy for every interview. It was probably a good lesson to learn so early on. Anyway, I did wind up getting a job as a reporter and worked in TV for several years before starting my own consulting business. To this day, I stalk my prospective clients on LinkedIn to learn as much as possible before getting on the phone with them!"
8. Cassie, 24
"I received a call for an interview for a position at [what I thought was an NBA team]. I prepped myself as much as possible for the interview and felt very confident. After five minutes of talking about my background, the interviewer asked me 'Why do you want to work for us?' I launched into great detail about how I was a college athlete and I love basketball. The interviewer's face suddenly looked confused and then uncomfortable as he stopped me mid-sentence and said, "We're not affiliated in any way with the NBA team... I was mortified and quickly made up an excuse that I was running late for a doctor's appointment. Lesson learned — know your [stuff], always read through the job description, and learn about the company itself."
9. Robin, 47
"When I was in my late 20s, I had an interview scheduled at a local chapter of a national non-profit organization. The position I was seeking was for a fundraising specialist with growth potential and opportunities for community outreach and networking. I had high hopes of being hired so that I could not only be a part of a great organization, but also so I could begin some real career growth.
The day before my interview, I came down with a terrible cold. ... I considered calling to reschedule my interview but thought that would reflect badly on me as a candidate, so instead I took some overnight cold meds and hoped that a good night’s sleep would make it all better. It did not.
I awoke the next morning with an even worse cough. ... Again, rather than calling to reschedule, I took medicine, pulled myself together as best I could, and went on my way. The first part of the interview went OK... Other than a few sniffles here and there, it started out pretty well. Then my nose started running ... like full-on, out the nose, stream of ickiness running non-stop. I was mortified. And I had no tissues with me. I had to excuse myself from the interview to go to the bathroom and blow my nose. Gross, but I cleaned myself up, tried to regain my dignity, and went back in to finish the interview.
Then the coughing fits started... The poor man rode out the coughing with me and, as soon as I could breathe again, said very politely 'Well, thank you for coming in today, but I think it’s best if you go home and rest.'
The absolute worst part of this is that, simply out of habit, I stood and extended my arm for a handshake. This is immediately after I had just used my hand to shield whatever was spewing forth during my coughing fit. He stood from behind his desk, visibly cringed, and shook my hand. Suffice it to say, I did not get the job."
10. Nina, 34
"At the beginning of my career, I applied for a marketing assistant position in a small New York company. I was really young, new in town, extremely excited, but very stressed out. I showed up to talk to the company's owner; welcomed by an office manager I instantly assumed he was the person in charge. Not only did I start calling him the name of the owner (Mr. X), but literally initiated the interview. The guy went with a flow and let me babble about myself for 10 minutes. Meanwhile Mr X. joined the interview and realized what was going on. Embarrassing. Should've done any sort of research, even with the limited information on internet back in those days. I didn't get the job. Go figure."
11. Marie, 31
"My interview for my dream job at a magazine was going well — until she asked me where I saw myself in 10 years. My first thought was at the exact job I was applying for, but I felt like that was too cheesy. Also, I didn't want to make it seem like I didn't have goals, but the industry is changing so much that I felt like I didn't even know if the same jobs would be around in a decade. Instead, I answered that I had no idea — which was probably the worst thing I could've said. I didn't get that job."
So the next time you bomb a job interview, know you're not alone. Also realize, that it's going to make for a great story once you're able to laugh at it.