I’m Responsible For One Of The Worst Interviews Ever

Posted on October 19, 2007 by Melissa 
Filed Under Relationships, Work

He only looked good on paper I guessShortly after leaving my consulting job I got a position within the same industry that required much less travel.  After a few months at my new job an old work acquaintance (let’s call him David) contacted me to see how I was doing.  I explained that I liked the new position with this smaller company and he asked if I could get him an interview.

David said he was a newlywed now and had a baby on the way.  He needed to slow or eliminate his traveling.  He said that he really needed a new job as soon as possible because he would have to quit the consulting lifestyle when the baby came in just a few months.  He sounded like he really needed help.  His resume looked good so I agreed to pass along it along to my new boss. 

Mistake #1 – Passing along a resume for a guy I barely knew to my brand new employer. 

I told my manager that I hadn’t worked with David much but the experience I did have working with him was positive.  My manager reviewed the resume, noticed he had the same job title as me from the old company, and set up an interview for the end of that week.  He thanked me for the referral.  I felt good.  Maybe I had just helped out my new company and an ex-coworker at the same time. 

I knew he was interviewing on Friday but I didn’t know what time.  That afternoon I was surprised to hear some managers laughing as I approached.  They asked me if I was the one who referred David.  I said, “Yes, he was a fellow consultant from XYZ.”  They laughed and said I should speak to my boss.  Thoroughly confused, I went to my manager and asked him what had happened.  I was shocked and mortified by what I heard.

  1. David showed up to the interview in casual attire (shorts, of all things) with his pregnant wife in tow.  When they brought him back to the interview room he proceeded to bring his wife along.  They had to ask that she remain in the reception area for the formal interview.  David was surprised by this and seemed to expect that she could join them. 
  2. During the interview his replies were very informal and framed with “My wife and I” and “we”.  It appeared that he wasn’t answering for himself but on behalf of him and his wife.  This continued even when questioned about his skills and work history.  Weird.  Even my boss said it was creepy.
  3. David said that if he did have to travel, his wife would likely be joining him.  He mentioned that his wife was already coming along on many of his consulting trips.  When you are on-site for only 4 days a week you are still expected to get 40 billable hours.  I’m sure my boss wondered if he was really putting in long hours if his wife was coming along.
  4. The interview was held during work hours so my manager asked David what he had been up to that day to get a feel for his current job duties.  David casually explained that they had done a little shopping and caught some lunch before coming to the interview.  When asked if he took the day off he replied that he rarely worked on Fridays and that it was “no big deal”.  (Note: With my old company Fridays were often spent traveling or working on administrative tasks.  We were at home but if we weren’t doing billable work for a client we were still on company time).  Great.  So he admitted in the interview that he has no problem running errands, going to restaurants, and interviewing while on paid time.  That’s a rock solid work ethic right there, folks.

After the interview my boss told upper management about this being the most bizarre interview he had ever done.  It became a running joke in the company and my name was attached as the new girl who “referred him”.

How does this relate to personal finance?  Well, I think it does in many ways.  This horrible interview could have affected MY job.  I was lucky that it didn’t (thank goodness I was producing decent work by that time) but it certainly could have, especially as the “new girl”.  I hadn’t even met many of the managers that heard about this so how is that for a first impression?  After that incident I had to wonder what the company thought of me for referring this guy.  Would they question my work ethic and overall judgment?  After all, it appeared as if I endorsed him by passing along the resume.  The last thing I wanted was to be associated with that kind of unprofessional behavior.

Needless to say, David didn’t receive a call back.  I was upset with him for embarrassing me after I did him a favor when he needed help.  The interview was so bad that someone actually asked me if he had something against me, implying that he might have done it on purpose.  I guess nobody could believe that he didn’t know better, either. 

Looking back on it, I realize that I probably should have just told David to apply on his own through the regular channels.  Or if I still wanted to help him by giving my boss his resume, I should have emphasized that I didn’t have much experience working with him and avoided giving any feedback.  I shouldn’t have said that my experience with him was good because that experience was obviously too limited.  

I sure learned my lesson with that one.  At least it’s good for a laugh now. 


22 Responses to “I’m Responsible For One Of The Worst Interviews Ever”

  1. Vixen on October 19th, 2007 4:26 pm

    This post points out exactly why I rarely recommend people. It’s such a risk!

  2. Jennifer on October 19th, 2007 10:18 pm

    Ouch! That’s awful…I’m glad it didn’t affect your job!

  3. plonkee on October 20th, 2007 3:39 am

    Man that sucks. At least everyone discovered it before he started work rather than after.

  4. Lynnae @ Being Frugal on October 20th, 2007 9:16 am

    Since it didn’t affect your job, is it OK if I laugh? Why on earth would anyone do that during an interview? Incredible!

  5. Carnival of Personal Finance » Carnival of Personal Finance #123 on October 22nd, 2007 7:18 am

    […] I’m Responsible for One of the Worst Interviews Ever […]

  6. Melissa on October 22nd, 2007 8:00 am

    @Vixen – Exactly. It’s funny though. Recently, Eric’s company had some layoffs and some of those people asked him if he knew of any leads within the company. He hooked them up with a manager he knew and they both got re-hired. He hardly knew them but in his case it worked out and made him feel good. I guess you can never tell.

    @Jennifer – Welcome and thanks for commenting! Yeah, it didn’t overtly affect my job but it very well could have knocked me down a peg or two in my manager’s eyes. I can’t imagine that something like that wouldn’t have affected his opinion of me in some way.

    @plonkee – I guess you are right. It was probably a good thing for the company to see his colors up front rather than later.

    @Lynnae – Of course it’s ok to laugh! I laugh about it all the time. It’s so absurd that it always makes for a funny story. :-)

  7. Shadox on October 22nd, 2007 9:47 am

    Actually, I don’t think you did anything wrong at all. It is very much OK to recommend acquaintances to available positions. All you have to do is make sure that you don’t oversell your recommendation. In your case you specifically said that you did not have a lot of work experience with the guy. Right on the money.

    In your career there will be times you wish you could crawl under a rock and hide from the world. However, it’s important to not let these moments effect your confidence or change your outlook on the world. It’s important to see the world with clear eyes, but don’t exaggerate the importance of this little incidents. Your quality of work should and does speak for itself. The best reaction to that little embarassing incident is to join in on the joke.

  8. Melissa on October 22nd, 2007 11:28 am

    @Shadox – You make a good point. I didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just looking back on it I wished I had done things a bit differently.

    After the initial shock wore off I did join in on the joke. It’s hard not to laugh when you think of how strange that interview must have been. :-)

    Thanks for commenting!

  9. the carnival is up : plonkee money on October 22nd, 2007 3:20 pm

    […] I’m responsible for one of the worst interviews ever @ a penny closer, this might have put me off recommending anyone at work, ever […]

  10. FourPillars on October 22nd, 2007 8:44 pm

    That’s just bizarre – wearing shorts to an interview???


  11. Llama for Brains on October 23rd, 2007 6:04 am

    Maybe the wife does the consulting work for him?

  12. Melissa on October 23rd, 2007 9:41 am

    @FourPillars – Yeah, shorts. It was as if he expected to “hang out” instead of having a formal interview. I’m sure that made an impression.

    Thanks for commenting!

  13. Art Dinkin on October 23rd, 2007 2:26 pm

    I agree with Shadox. Don’t let one bad experience you cause you to never do an aquaintace a favor again.

    In business, favors are currency. David did burn a bridge with you, but you never know. You may need him to do YOU a favor some day. Even if you never see or hear from David again, you should continuing helping people you know. Some day you will need someone’s help.

    When you refer a candidate for a job, unless you really know them well, always preface your referral. I usually tell the interviewer, “I know Melissa because I read her blog. I’ve looked over her resume and I think she has the qualifications you are looking for. I decided to introduce her to you so you can decide if she is a good match for the position.” Notice there is no endorsement.

    Networking is a key factor to success. As Harvey McKay once said “Dig your well before your thirsty”.

  14. Melissa on October 26th, 2007 9:37 am

    @Llama – That would have been a great reason, huh? It was a highly technical job and as far as I know his wife wasn’t familiar with it.

    @Art – Great advice on how to give a referral without giving an endorsement. I guess I was equating a referral AS an endorsement. I will still pass along resumes now that I know a better way to handle it. Besides, what are the chances that situation would happen again? :-)

  15. Sunday linkstuff on October 28th, 2007 3:01 am

    […] ever thought about giving a reference for someone you don’t really know that well then read this post […]

  16. Mrs. Micah on December 24th, 2007 3:01 pm

    I’d read this before, but it still amuses me. I recently got a job almost entirely off a friend’s recommendation (and a good interview, but they were willing to hire me after her recommendation and my resume…unless I turned out to be someone like this guy).

    Doesn’t sound like you oversold him, so hopefully it’s just worth a good laugh.

  17. Melissa on January 9th, 2008 3:04 pm

    @Mrs. Micah – I think it’s awesome that your friend has so much credibility at her work that they were already willing to hire you after her recommendation. I guess that also says something about your resume as well. Good luck with your new job – I see on your site that you are enjoying it!

  18. The 123rd Carnival of Personal Finance (The Boo! editinon) | The Dough Roller on January 27th, 2008 7:56 am

    […] I’m Responsible For One Of The Worst Interviews Ever (@ A Penny Closer): “After a few months at my new job an old work acquaintance (let’s call him David) contacted me to see how I was doing. I explained that I liked the new position with this smaller company and he asked if I could get him an interview.” And that’s when the trouble began. […]

  19. Myfinancebutler on May 1st, 2008 9:50 pm

    “I realize that I probably should have just told David to apply on his own through the regular channels.”

    Taking responsibility for others can often jeopordize our own finances. I think we’ve all learned this lesson the hard way – thanks for the reminder!

  20. The Baldchemist(new comment) on December 1st, 2008 10:20 am

    Don’t let people use you as a crutch. They have great difficulty letting go.
    But don’t worry about it. You can’t hold yourself responsible. Your boss had a need for someone or he wouldn’t have accepted your referal.
    But I guess the lesson is, if you are going to recommend anyone then make sure that they are fit for the position.
    Thanks for the article though. The Baldchemist

  21. The 123rd Carnival of Personal Finance (The Boo! editinon)(new comment) on May 27th, 2009 7:05 pm

    […] I’m Responsible For One Of The Worst Interviews Ever (@ A Penny Closer): “After a few months at my new job an old work acquaintance (let’s call him David) contacted me to see how I was doing. I explained that I liked the new position with this smaller company and he asked if I could get him an interview.” And that’s when the trouble began. […]

  22. Sue | Office Furniture(new comment) on August 3rd, 2009 12:11 am

    I really had a good chuckle at this, one really can’t always recommend friends to the same company, this can cause all kinds of problems, thank goodness that it was spotted early.


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