What's the craziest thing you ever said (or did) at an interview and still got the job?
Question originally posted on Quora by Job Interviews
Richard Waddington. After being with the same employer for over a decade, Richard Waddington decided it was time to seek out greener pastures. Before Waddington left the house for his first interview with a potential employer, his 4-year-old daughter presented him with a plastic toy cow for good luck, which he eventually placed in his pocket. The interviewer asked many technical questions that Waddington answered confidently, but also noted that he appeared to be "pretty straight-laced guy" and she wasn't sure if he would be a good fit for the position. Without thinking twice, Waddington shouted, "I have a cow in my pocket!" After a brief silence, the interviewer began laughing and awarded him the job.
What's the point of this story? It goes to show that, despite being qualified for the job and prepared for the interview, when you're faced with an awkward interview situation you must use what you have at the time. In Richard Waddington's case, he had a toy cow that was odd enough to prove that he wasn't the "straight-laced guy" that the interviewer was worried wouldn't fit into the mold of what the company was looking for. In taking a big risk, Waddington proved that he was capable of adapting to the company's expectations as well as to difficult situations, which pleased the interviewer greatly.
Stan Hanks, tech guy. One of the most typical and underestimated questions asked by an interviewer is, "Do you have any questions for me?" Most people ask general questions about the company or don't ask anything at all, but Stan Hanks' question was compelling enough to cause the interviewer, who held a very senior level position, to resign that day. So, what did he ask? Hanks casually posed the question, "What's the worst thing about working here?" The interviewer responded with a very candid and almost painful rant about everything wrong at the company. The next day, Hanks received a call from Human Resources, saying that the senior executive resigned after their interview, and HR was curious as to what happened during the meeting. After telling them exactly what happened, Hank was awarded a job at the company to help the tech department solve all of the issues addressed by the interviewer.
It pays to be inquisitive and curious about a potential employer, because it's important to know who you're going to be working for, and what the company's culture is based on. Also, asking such an honest question shows that you are genuinely interested in the answer, rather than just being at the interview for the sake of landing a job. A job is only as good as the company you work for, so ensure that your values match that of the company's.
Anonymous. During a "typical consult interview" involving puzzles and cases to be solved by the interviewer, this person found that presence of mind helped him/her successfully win the job. After Anonymous stumbled over words in the first portion of the meeting, the interviewer moved on and began explaining the first puzzle to be solved. To the interviewee's relief, he/she had already come across the puzzle recently and exclaimed, "Sir, I'll be honest with you. I've heard this one before," and proceeded to provide a condensed version of the answer. The interviewer moved on to the next puzzle, but this time Anonymous had no clue of the answer and bravely said, "Sir, I hate to admit it, but I've heard this one before as well!" Somehow that answer sufficed and the interviewer moved on. Anonymous was awarded the job, despite the "cover up" and the shaky start to the interview.
This one is tricky because, technically, Anonymous didn't tell the whole truth during the interview, which is never a good idea. However, what is worth noting is his/her ability to innovate on a whim, rather than become immobilized by fear of not knowing the answer to the puzzle. A great analogy is when a speaker is giving a presentation and forgets a portion of the speech. Instead of showing embarrassment and running off the stage, the speaker is encouraged to move on without making the audience aware of the mishap. The same goes for an interview. When faced with a question that you don't know the answer to, it is best to ask the interviewer to revisit that question at a later time. Hopefully, the person interviewing you will forget to come back to that particular question or you will have a suitable answer by then.
A candidate can greatly increase the chances of success in an interview by being prepared and having confidence in his/her abilities. Also, it's vial to find a company that aligns with your values and ethics so that your job can turn into a fulfilling career in the long run.
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