My Mortifying First Interview Experience
My first interview was absolutely horrific. It was for a very prestigious university and I was applying as a physics major. I got lost on the way to the interview (this was before the days of cell phones, and I didn’t have time to stop and find a pay phone). I rushed in 20 minutes late, sweating and nervous. I had no time to relax or prepare myself. And as soon as I stepped in the doorway, the interview started.
I was meeting with the associate dean of physics, who was a woman. I have no recollection of the first question she asked me – but it probably was something along the lines of why I wanted to attend this university. I was about 15 seconds in to my response when she put her hand up to stop me and said, verbatim, “Anthony, I don’t mean to embarrass you, but are you aware that you have a Cling Free sticking out the bottom of your pant leg.”
I was mortified.
The funny thing is that when I think of the story now, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. So what, a dryer sheet peeking out from my pants.
But as a 17-year old thinking my whole life depended on getting into this university – it felt like the end of the world. I don’t remember anything else about the day – who else I met with, what I said, etc. Apparently I repressed those memories to spare myself further shame.
While I didn’t fully appreciate the significance of the moment at the time, I had enough of a sense to realize that this concept of interviewing was an important one, and I probably ought to learn how to do better in the future.
Thus began my quest to learn how to excel at interviewing and public speaking, both of which took off once I graduated from college. After landing my first real gig designing mainframes for a large computer company, I learned from brilliant minds and gifted managers on how to both very well.
I shared this humiliating experience during a recent workshop I led on How to Ace an Interview, as well the steps to transform extreme anxiety into a blissful serenity. And I’ll be writing much more on these topics of overcoming nervousness, powerfully articulating your skills and accomplishments, acing interviews, and landing the jobs of your dreams.
But what an inauspicious start it was.
Needless to say, unlike Tom Cruise blowing the interview in Risky Business, I did not get the coveted invite to join that prestigious university.
What was your worst interview experience?