You know what’s crazy? I’ll tell you what’s Crazy!
Going on a job interview and letting dumb ass things that float around in your head, actually escape out your mouth. Now that’s dumb, or the theme of another stupid Adam Sandler Movie.
“I’m not wanted in this state.”
“How many young women work here?”
“I didn’t steal it; I just borrowed it.”
“You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!”
According to CNN/Business; these aren’t gag lines, these are actual sentences spoken by job applicants during job interviews.
And you wonder why America is sliding down the tubes? Is this the best we can do? Numbskulls with no social skills, ettiquette or grace?
With jobs at a premium, and bosses slashing jobs and salaries, staying employed is hard.
When a position opens up, the line is around the block. Men and women wearing Italian suits stand next to applicants in Wranglers. Blue collar and white collar and no collar are fighting to make ends meet in an economy that is riding on a down escalator. It’s economic armagedon, and every man for himself.
According to CNN/Business, “telling a potential employer not to do a background check,” is definitely going to raise a red flag.
Telling a potential employer that your court mandated ankle bracelet might restrict your cubicle movement, is probably a check against you.
Asking your recruitment officer if its ok to gargle with Jack Daniels during lunch is going to raise a few eyebrows.
Do as I say. Not as I do, I often tell my kids.
I laugh at the stupid things in this story, because sadly, I was one of these idiots 14 years ago during the job application for the current job I have.
I had met with the managers and several sub level department heads. The interviews had gone well and frankly, I felt this was a formality. The boss had all ready indicated I had the job.
“Go upstairs and fill out your paperwork,” my eventual boss would say. “Thanks for pledging,” he says.
I’m walking up the stairs thinking about getting a celebratory shot of Makers Mark. I’m thinking about telling the wife and talking about getting relocated. I’m really not thinking about the H.R. lady at the end of the hall.
If you’ve read any of my That’s Crazy website; then you know that my brain sometimes goes all deep fried on me.
I’m a vat of fried onion rings as I walked into the Human Resource managers office with deep fried stupid starting to spill out of my cerebral pores.
I sat down and looked around the small office made of brico block painted a nauseating off white. The woman’s desk was piled high with stacks of papers and what looked like dozens of other job applications. There was a pet rock and a box of kleenex.
She smiled briefly and began reading my application.
“Have you enjoyed your visit so far?” Her eyes never gazed up from the paper. It was as if she was reading from a script.
As long as my answers fit into some pre programmed paradigm of acceptable responses, she was going to move through her hiring check list like a NAPPA auto mechanic giving me the deluxe lube.
“Everyone’s been great,” I said trying to establish a human connection with this stoic,
She went through the paper work asking me my name and date of birth. Social Security number? Check!
My mind was only half paying attention. I had gotten up early, I hadn’t eaten breakfast. I barely had time for a cup of coffee. This room was closing in on me, and her steady tone was like white noise helping to put me to sleep. The room’s color was deadening my senses, and there seemed to be little or no oxygen.
I began to day dream. My mind floated back to a movie I had seen a few days earlier. Stripes with Bill Murray. It aired on some ubiquitous network like TNT. Stripes is one of those comedy classics that you can’t turn off, no matter what part of the story you tune into.
That’s when the HR lady looks up from her paperwork and says; ” have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
I snap out of my half day dream and look right at the woman. It’s a dream come true.
“Convicted?,” I say with another awkward pause. I cock my head to the side and gaze into the woman’s eyes.
I think to Bill Murray and try and do it just like the movie. I force a kind of stupid grin onto my face. I imagine my lips drooping as if I just suffered facial paralysis.
“Convicted?,” I continue. “Never convicted.”
I break out of character and smile, waiting for a retrun smile.
I don’t exactly get one. The H.R. woman’s eyes grow wide and she slowly looks up from her paperwork.
In the movie, it’s a drop dead funny ass line. In reality, It’s not going over as gang-busters as I would have imagined.
Her eyes are wide like manhole covers. I see her lip quiver as her teeth clench in a tense vice-clamp sort of way.
She pushes an inch or two away from her desk, in an almost defensive position.
If she is a bank teller, her finger is on the panic button, poised to get security.If she works in the insane asylum, she is reaching for the butterfly net.
If she is Willy Wonka, she is sending me down the garbage chute as a bad egg.
I quickly summize she is not a big Bill Murray STRIPES’ fan.
“Oh I was just kidding,” I say cutting through the stupid tension I myself created by forgetting to think. After all, this was a Damned job interview, it wasn’t a college frat party. I’ve always had trouble seperating the two.
There were salary details and health insurance questions and life style changes to consider. There were complex hiring nuances affiliated with this little HR Meeting. But what do I do? Act like a moron, as usual.
My words trail off hoping she’ll relax, hoping she’ll take her finger off the nuclear panic button and resume her automated response for the hiring process.
“No. I have not seen that.”
She seems satisfied that I am not a maniacal killer. But her teeth remained clenched.
She readjusts her gaze to my application.
“So I am assuming that the answer to that question is no.”
I feel like I need a dress shirt with a larger collar. I swallow, feeling the pressure in my neck.
My stomach is churning up a bad case of gas. I just want out of this tiny office. “Yes mam, that’s affirmative. Never convicted of a felony.”
She eye balls me for a moment more, and moves on to the next question.
As I said, I’ve been with this company now for almost 14 years. The HR lady left a few years ago. Part of the downsizing of America.
Before the ax came down, we talked about this interview.
We were getting coffee in the break room, a decade later, and we were friendly acquaintances now at work.
She laughed out loud, spilling her coffee on the floor. I could tell she did.
The HR lady had long since figured out my bizare sense of humor and she was quick to tell me that she thought I was demented.
This woman has interviewed hundreds and hundreds of candidates and she says this was one of her more memorable moments.
So when HR people tell CNN/Business about the insane responses they get during the interview process, I understand all to well.
My suggestion; if you have a chance to get a job, don’t be an idiot like me. Especially if you need to pay your bills or send your kids to the doctor.
How to answer: ‘Why should I hire you?’
Six signs it’s a job scam
Rate your office etiquette
More CareerBuilder.com stories
Why did you leave your last job?
“I have a problem with authority.” – Carrie Rocha, COO of HousingLink
Tell us about a problem you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it
“The resolution was we were both fired.”- Jason Shindler, CEO, Curvine Web Solutions
“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.” – Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management, Inc
“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.'” – Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations
Why should we hire you?
“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group
Do you have any questions?
“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” – Megan Garnett, Articulate Leadership Team, Articulate Communications Inc.
“What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it’s raining? Can you pick me up?” – Christine Pechstein, career coach
“I was a Chamber of Commerce Executive once hiring a secretary. [The candidate asked] ‘What does a Chamber of Commerce do?'” – Mary Kurek, Mary Kurek, Inc. Visibility Consulting
“Can we wrap this up fairly quickly? I have someplace I have to go.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing, Clare Computer Solutions
“What is your company’s policy on Monday absences?” – Campbell
“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?” – Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching
“How big do the bonuses really get once you make associate? I hear it’s some serious cash.” – Bolzan
“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?” – Bolzan
“When you do background checks on candidates, do things like public drunkenness arrests come up?” – Bolzan
“Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room? I heard you have a great one here and while I don’t plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast feed and would want to use that room.”- Bolzan
“So, how much do they pay you for doing these interviews?” — Jodi R.R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting
Why are you leaving your current job?
“Because I (expletive) my pants every time I enter the building.” – Abbe Mortimore, Human Resources Manager, True Textiles, Inc.
“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.” – Smith
Why are you looking for a job?
“Cigarettes are getting more expensive, so I need another job.” – Pechstei
“My parents told me I need to get a job so that is why I’m here.” – McGowan
Why do you want to work for us?
“Just for the benefits.” – Jennifer Juergens, JJ Communications
“My old boss didn’t like me, so one day, I just left and never came back. And here I am!” – Matt Cowall, communications manager, Appia Communications
“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?” – Rebecca Gertsmark Oren,
Communications Director at The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity
What are your assets? (as in strengths)
“Well, I do own a bike.” – Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group
What are your weaknesses?
“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein
“I had a job candidate tell me that she often oversleeps and has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.” – Linda Yaffe, certified executive coach
“I am an alcoholic and do not deserve this job.” – Deb Bailey, owner, Power Women Magazine & Radio Show
“I’m really not a big learner. You know … some people love learning and are always picking up new things, but that’s just not me. I’d much rather work at a place where the job is pretty stagnant and doesn’t change a lot.” — Michaele Charles, Voice Communications
When have you demonstrated leadership skills? “Well my best example would be in the world of online video gaming. I pretty much run the show; it takes a lot to do that.” – Rachel Croce
Is there anything else I should know about you?
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.” – Venne
When can you start?
“I need to check with my mom on that one.” – Bolzan
Use three adjectives to describe yourself
“I hate questions like this.” – Katrina Meistering, manager of outreach, National Fatherhood Initiative
Tell of a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it
“I stole some equipment from my old job, and I had to pay for its replacement.” – Meistering
Have you submitted your two weeks’ notice to your current employer?
“What is two weeks’ notice? I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.” – Meistering
“One guy [said] ‘it would probably be best’ if I didn’t run a background check on him. Of course, I did, and learned all about his long, sordid past of law-breaking. Our client actually offered him a job as a staff accountant, but quickly retracted the offer when I had to tell them all about his recent arrest for a meth lab in his basement.” – Charles
“[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport.” — Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR
“I went into the lobby to pick up a candidate. As he stood up, his trousers fell to the floor! [He said] ‘Oh, my gosh — they told me I needed a suit for the interview. I’ve got no money — so I borrowed this thing. It’s too big!'” – Beth Ross, executive and career coach
“Wow — I’m not used to wearing dress shoes! My feet are killing me. Can I show you these bloody blisters?” – Bolzan
“May I have a cup of coffee? I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.” – Smith
(During a telephone call to schedule the interview) “Can we meet next month? I am currently incarcerated.”- Smith