Worst HR Interview: The Story

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In response to yesterday’s post about the ultimate interview question, I wanted to share my worst interview experience.

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I interviewed with a Vice President of Human Resources for a role as a Human Resources manager. The VP wouldn’t have been my direct boss, but he wanted to meet me before my potential boss extended an offer. He was very kind & thoughtful to see me. We spent about an hour together and he expressed great pride in his team and passion for his work.

The VP promised that, if hired, I would be exposed to C-level executives and would be empowered to take risks. He committed to giving me the freedom & space to make mistakes and learn from those around me. He gave examples of how he fostered diversity within his organization and told me that I would have his full support on all issues, great and small. I was told that I would be given all the tools and training needed to successfully accomplish my goals.

Wow, I thought, this job sounds awesome.

Then he said, “If you ever screw up and don’t tell me about it, though, I’ll rip your head off and shit down your throat.”

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Ever feel like you misheard something or someone — but didn’t?

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I blinked and smiled. The VP blinked and smiled. There was a moment of silence, and the VP asked, “What would it take for you to accept this job?”

At that point, I had several options: I could have reacted with disdain, grabbed my briefcase, and walked away from the job. I could have gone into a blind rage and told him to shove the job up his ass. I could have done something as simple as roll my eyes. Instead, I took a deep breath and chose to respond to him in the way that I normally respond to someone who said something ridiculous: I ignored him.

I told the Vice President, “I’m money-motivated and I have other opportunities at this point in my career. Make me a great offer — a really great offer — and I’ll accept it.”

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Just like that, the interview was over. We ended the discussion with smiles and a firm handshake, and I walked out of the office carrying my briefcase and a pamphlet on the company’s core values. (I swear to god.)

In retrospect, I understand that my reaction to his comment was the interview itself. I didn’t need to demonstrate my knowledge, skills or abilities as a Human Resources generalist. I just needed to pass this faux-psychological-exam and demonstrate that I had some balls.

My friends, there is no question about it: I have balls.

Two days later, when the verbal offer was extended, I shrugged my shoulders and accepted the job. The money was great and I felt that it was better to do business with the chumpsky you know than the chumpsky you don’t know. If being bullied by a passive-aggressive older man in Human Resources is as bad as it gets, I knew I could handle the job with pflying colors.

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Suckers, what’s your worst story???

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