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My horrible interview story
kfield   7/25/2013 3:23:28 PM
Every engineer has a story to tell about a mortifying job interview. Well, most of us anyway.

Years ago, for example, a cube mate of mine described how he was chastised by the hiring manager for not wearing a belt to the interview. Given the non-existence of any kind of formal dress code at most companies today, that type of criticism is simply unfathomable to me. 

With the ink still fresh on my diploma from the University of Minnesota, I had an interview for a mechanical engineering position at Medtronics at their headquarters in Minneapolis. It was a cold wintry day, which is pretty much every day in Minneapolis. The interview went well, I thought to myself as I walked back to my car, sidestepping mushy snow and slush in the parking lot. I started it up, then much to my dismay realized that the battery was dead.

I couldnt even wave anyone down to help, as I had no jumper cables. So off I schlepped back into Medtronics, had the receptionist dial my would-be manager, and then he insisted on coming out to help me personally, sidestepping the mush snow and slush in the parking lot.

I was mortified and though I don't think it was the resason that i didn't get the job, I always carry jumper cables with me now!

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   7/25/2013 4:20:01 PM
Great story Max. I was exactly one week early for a job interview once. It wouldn't have been so bad because all of the people I was supposed to be interviewing were out of the office and they would be none the wiser. Well, it would have been fine except that the receptionist called all of them in an attempt to find out why they weren't in the office for the interview, each assuming that the boss had changed the date. The boss was called last to finally confirm that I was, in fact, not bright enough to understand entry level calendar operation. I didn't get the job.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: My horrible interview story
Caleb Kraft   7/25/2013 4:31:30 PM
That's horrible!

I once realized, on the morning of my flight, that I had booked from the wrong Springfield. I could make the 6 hour drive just barely or call the airline and make a change. My boss wasn't immensely pleased at the additional expense on that one.

Tom Murphy
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Re: My horrible interview story
Tom Murphy   7/25/2013 4:46:00 PM
Karen: I was chastized for not wearing a TIE to an interview in Silicon Valley once. The very first words out of the CEO's mouth were: "So you don't respect me enough to wear a tie?"

I thought I was overdressed, with a sports coat, nice slacks and shiny shoes. I smiled and muttered something about how I thought it would be less formal, given it was Mountain View, but that just made him angry.

I got the job. (But the guy remained a jerk.)

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My own interview disaster
R1150RS   7/25/2013 6:43:38 PM
Ok, this is too much fun. Although I am not an engineer, I have my own humiliating interview experience to relate. Fresh out of college with an English degree, I was applying for a job as a printing supply sales rep for A.B Dick (imagine that company name on your business card). I wore a brand-new brown plaid suit circa late-1970s (a friend later quipped that he didn't realize Ralston-Purina also made suits). The weather was monsoonal, pouring buckets as it occasionally does in Austin, Texas. I hydroplaned all the way to the interview site, parked my car, dashed through the parking lot (a lake), and slipped and fell into a pool in front of the entrance. I endured the interview soaking wet in my plaid suit, and amazingly was offered the job. Didn't take it, though, and ended up on a circuitous path that eventually led me to high-tech PR.

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All's well that ends well
mcgrathdylan   7/26/2013 1:40:55 AM
Sounds like Max had to endure a lot of anxiety, stress and hassle. But in the end, I assume he showed up the next day for the interview at the correct time. So all's well that ends well. And you can consider the ordeal you went through the day before to be a practice run. Right?

User Rank
Colli   7/26/2013 5:05:14 AM
Hi Max,

I'm sure what you were on is known as a thin sandwich course, where you have a couple (or more) shorter periods in industry during a first degree.

I went to Loughborough Uni and was on a thick sandwich course - 2 years at Uni, 1 year in industry (in my case GEC Hirst Rersearch Centre) and then a final year at Uni.

No amusing tales to relate I'm afraid - but there was some spying scandal at HRC around my time there (not me  hasten to add!)

I remember some corny innuendo graffiti, based on the subject you were taking:

> Electrical Engineers do it with frequency until it Hertz.

> Mechanical Engineers do it with tight bores, greased nipples and long strokes.

(I do apologize :)

David Ashton
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Job Interview Disasters
David Ashton   7/26/2013 5:06:57 AM
I flew from Zimbabwe to Australia once for a job interview.  There was only one flight a week so I had to be there for almost a week.  So apart from the actual interview I went out with the guys who worked there on a few jobs, and the boss of the section took me out to a couple of sites to (a) show me their equipment and way of working and (b) probe my knowledge of the sort of gear they were using.

All went well until he took me to a radio site 15 KM outside a main town.  He gave me the keys to unlock the gate, and I unlocked the door to the equipment room.  We went inside, went through the equipment, then went outside again.  Which is when I realised that I had left the keys on the desk in the radio room, and the door had locked itself as we went out.....

We had to drive back into the town (where fortunately someone had another key), drive back up, retrieve his keys, drive back to the town, return the borrowed keys.....I thought I had stuffed that one up good and proper.

I got the job, so I must have had something going for me AND the boss must have had some sense of humour (or pity...).   And it turned out to be a nice job, and I'm still in it. 

If this sounds familiar to some readers it's because I had a longer version published some time ago in these pages here....





Max The Magnificent
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Re: My horrible interview story
Max The Magnificent   7/26/2013 8:54:42 AM
@Kfield: I always carry jumper cables with me now!

My father-in-law introduced me to this portable jump-starter thing (you can get them from Lowes or Home Depot for ~$60 for a basic one to ~$100 for a posh one. This is like a battery with cables (and other stuff) that you can use to jump-start yourself.

Mine also has a regular power outlet and a USB charger outlet -- buth of which would be useful in a crisis -- plus it contains a small compressor so you can easily pump up a flat tire (very useful to get to the "fix-a-tire" place).

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Early
Max The Magnificent   7/26/2013 8:58:34 AM
@Duane: The boss was called last to finally confirm that I was, in fact, not bright enough to understand entry level calendar operation. I didn't get the job.

The thing is that this can happen to anyone (although once is enough). I actually ended up getting the job -- they said that I carried the interview off with "great aplomb" considering the circumstances -- from my perspective I'd already burnt up all of my adrenalin and I was just floating along willing to let the universe have its way with me :-)

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