Honesty is the best policy. But c'mon, use a filter in an interview.
The Long Term Plan
“I interviewed for an internship at this fancy engineering R&D firm. Basically everyone in our program wanted to intern with them because it was convenient, they had interesting work, and they paid well. I got a chance to interview for this coveted internship and all was going well, then this: Interviewer: ‘We like to hire interns who would want to work here when they graduate, does that sound like something you’d like to do?’ Me: ‘Only if you have a location outside Ohio!’ Which, I knew they didn’t but I honestly didn’t want to stay in Ohio after graduating, and I have a problem with being honest when it’s not in my best interest. Needless to say, I didn’t get the internship. Instead I went to work for a company outside Chicago. 7 years later, the R&D firm called me up wondering if I was ready to live in Ohio yet. By this time I was married with kids and not as unhappy with Ohio as I once was. I told them how much it would require to get me to move back, and they offered it.” (Source)
One Confident Person
“I was interviewing for consulting firm internships during my first year of business school. One firm sat me down, handed me a 3-page case description and said I had 3 minutes to read it. Then the interviewer began asking a series of questions that relied heavily on data presented in the case. I was told that I could not see the case document again and that I had to give a concrete numerical answer to each question, even though his questions were such that any meaningful answer required considerable number-crunching.The interviewer’s manner was aggressive. He would cut me off and say things like ‘Your answer is incomplete. The client will not accept that answer.’ After flailing at this for 10 minutes or so, I asked him to end the interview. Looking somewhat surprised, he asked why. I said that, regardless of whether this type of interview was to measure my ability to think on my feet, to handle stress, the thing that it told me about them was that their culture was aggressive and discourteous, and that I probably wasn’t a good match for them. I did not hear from them again.” (Source)
“A friend had told me about a position where he currently worked which involved a technical management position building a theme park. The hiring VP was out of the country but his assistant decided to fly me to California four days before the interview so the team could meet me and I could better understand the scope of the project. Not really knowing what to do with me when I got there I suggested they just treat me as if I already had the job. I dove right in and attended all of the planning meetings and design sessions. In the second meeting I made a suggestion the resulted in savings of over half a million dollars. Several other similar suggestions over the next few days made me a shoe in for the position so I went to the actual interview with high expectations. Sitting across from the VP it was pretty clear he was not pleased that I had become so engaged without his knowledge and seemed intent to find some weakness. After several belligerent questions which clearly pointed to the fact that he wasn’t going to hire me he finally shouted, ‘you must think you are some kind of Superstar!’ My immediate reply just before he ordered me out of his office was ‘Of course I’m a Superstar and you’d be an idiot not to hire me.’ As you might imagine I did not get the job.” (Source)
A Little Too Honest
“I applied for a job at a very popular tech store last year. They have quite a long process to choose their candidates and I made it to the last round. Here I was a little surprised as I was interviewed at the same time as 3 other candidates, after being interviewed alone. All was going great until this question pops up : “How would you describe your personal experience at the store”. The other candidates went first, and they all agreed to have had a great experience as a customer. When it was my turn, I started with saying that I have been a loyal customer for years, and have always been satisfied with their service at the store. But my last experience at this specific store, where I was applying to work, went a little wrong. I had to come in the morning, asked for an appointment to speak to someone from technical service. I came back at the time of my appointment and it had been cancelled, so I waited for 25 minutes, to finally have my turn to speak to someone right in front of the other people waiting, which was neither discreet nor comfortable. I made it clear that it was my first negative experience, and if I were to work there, I would know exactly what the customers need to feel good. At the end of my story, I looked up as everyone was openmouthed, and I realized I probably went too far, too honest. Needless to say I was never called back! PS: never regretted.” (Source)
What An A**hole
“I’m in tech sales and this happened a few years ago. In an interview with a VP of Sales, I was asked what to do if the product I was selling only fit half of the buyer’s requirements checklist. I said I would recommend the prospect evaluate other products to see whether a better fit was available, rather than push them to purchase something they would be dissatisfied with. That they would figure out they had the wrong product sooner or later, and the support and follow-up required to remedy the problem would end up costing the company more. He replied thank you but you’re nothing special and walked out of the room. I was shocked and sat there for about 10 minutes. No one came back so I ended up walking myself out.” (Source)
Arrogant Doesn’t Equal Confidence
“The final round of an interview with a Dubai based bank recruiting from a b-school. Was supposed to be a regular chat with the CEO: ‘Why is your GPA low?’ ‘Sir, it is x.xx, it’s in the top quartile.’ ‘Do you think that is high?’ ‘Well I just stated a fact, that inference is for you to make.’ ‘I think it’s low, you seem to be satisfied by being mediocre.’ ‘For me, my GPA is irrelevant. I am not satisfied or dissatisfied by it.’ ‘GPA shows how much effort you are willing to put to be at the top, it shows a work ethic.’ ‘I think it’s slightly unfair to judge my work ethic based on a race which I had no intent to participate in.’ ‘Don’t you think you are too arrogant for a fresh graduate?’ ‘I have my opinions and I will change them only if I am convinced by the power of your argument, not by the relative power difference of position between us.’ END OF STORY.” (Source)
Ya Win Some Ya Lose Some
“This was during campus placement. I was in the 5th (and final) round of back-to-back interviews with Amazon. It was the HR round. When they asked me about my preference list for the day, I honestly replied saying that Adobe was at the top followed by Amazon, even though I wasn’t required to divulge that information. I didn’t get through and I hadn’t even been to the interview for Adobe thinking that I was almost sure of getting through at Amazon. After that, Adobe took just one interview and didn’t select me.” (Source)
Shouldn’t They Know How Old It Is?
“I interviewed for a position which required 10 years of Adobe InDesign experience, at the time InDesign had been on the market for less than 7 years. I told the interviewer I had experience with Quark and Pagemaker for over 10 years, but since InDesign was only 7 years old I only had 7 years experience with that particular program. The interviewer informed me they had many other applicants who had over ten years experience with InDesign. I told them this was impossible and asked if they wanted an honest employee or one who only told them what they wanted to hear? I did not hear back so I guess I got my answer.” (Source)
“I was interviewing with Apple for a marketing position. One of the interviewers was the product manager for the Safari browser. I pointed out that one reason that I preferred Chrome over Safari was because Safari’s progress bar in the URL box made page loads seem slower than they really were, if you saw the bar crawling from 10%, to 20%, and so on, it had a negative psychological effect because it caused you to think about how much more time it was going to take for the page to load. I’m not sure if that was the answer that prevented me from advancing, but it sure was a mistake.” (Source)
Why Would You Say That
“I interviewed with Netflix few years back and they asked me ‘Do you have Netflix?’ I said ‘Well no because I don’t want my kids to watch too much TV.’ They still continued the rest of the interview but it was pretty obvious that I didn’t make it.” (Source)
Always Show Up Prepared!
“It was my first real job interview (still in college at that time) and had no ready-made answer for the standard ‘strength and weaknesses’ question. Learned the hard way that being honest about your weak points/skills would never help.” (Source)
Not Low Enough?
“When I had a second interview with a publisher for a senior editor slot at a medium-sized newspaper. I really wanted to stay in the area, was willing to compromise on money, and when asked what my salary requirements were I low-balled with a number that was at the absolute bottom of my scale. The publisher was taking a drink of coffee at that moment and when I replied with my number he literally spewed coffer all over his desk and snapped, ‘That’s more than I make!’ End of interview.” (Source)
Um, Like Free Stuff Ya Know?
“I was fresh out of college where I had just done a study abroad trip, and was dying to do some more traveling, and not dying to do a lot of working. The city I lived in had a big call center for a major airline, which I thought would be perfect. One of the questions in the interview was why I wanted to work in their call center. In hindsight, I think ‘um the free airline tickets, of course’ was not the correct answer.” (Source)
A Hard No
“I had just moved to LA for the first time. I walked into a video store to apply for a job. I had to fill out a questionnaire on a computer. My online ‘interview’ was cut short after this question: Would you submit to a drug test? Answer: No.” (Source)