Hiring and Job Interviews GONE WILD! A Few True Tales from the Civil Engineering Job Search Archives

February 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm 5 comments

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of CivilEngineeringCentral.com

View Carol’s profile & connect with her on LinkedIn

Each week someone tells me a crazy, unbelievable hiring or job interview story that has occurred in the architectural/ civil engineering marketplace. What is going on? Have interviewers and interviewees lost their senses? Here are some TRUE stories for your enjoyment (or horror!). These have come from architecture and civil engineering  human resources leaders, executives, recruiters and headhunters. I know you will have a difficult time believing that these really happened- but they did!

– A human resources executive at a civil engineering firm interviewed a man at their corporate headquarters office. The position he was applying for was based in one of the branch offices. The interview went well, but he seemed somewhat odd in some of his behaviors and actions and his appearance was odd but nothing to be concerned about.  The firm decided to extend an offer, which he accepted and established a start date. On his start date, he appeared at his new work location on time and ready for work, but was dressed as a female.  After the manager’s initial shock he put the person to work.  Needless to say the individual’s co-workers were a bit freaked out when they first saw him, but they overcame their surprise and everything went smoothly.

– A large A/E firm was interviewing candidates for a corporate director of business development position.  The COO had arranged to meet one of the candidates with whom he had already had a phone interview at a hotel near the Los Angeles Airport.  Forty-five minutes after the designated meeting time, just as the COO was getting ready to leave, the candidate arrived.  Sweating profusely, he was running down the corridor toward the restaurant.  By this time, his shoes were untied, his shirt untucked and his tie flipped over his shoulder.  He ran up to the interviewer and, in attempting to shake his hand, knocked over his cup of coffee, spilling it all over his lap.  He apologized for being late but said that he had been driving around trying to find a metered spot because it was cheaper than the garage.  He had a huge mustard stain on his tie and there were still bits of relish at the corners of his mouth.  He flopped down into the chair, which tipped over backwards.  As he fell, his feet kicked the table over, spreading the interviewer’s papers all over the floor.  As the candidate bent over to help him pick them up, his pants ripped completely up the back.  After getting everything righted again, the interviewer began, only to discover that the candidate had left his briefcase in the car which had all of the sample documents he had previously been asked to bring to the interview.  He requested that chance to go back and get them and offered to buy the COO another cup of coffee while he was waiting.  The COO said he would take care of it but the candidate absolutely insisted.  When the server came to take care of the check, she returned shortly with his credit card, stating that it had been declined — for $9.17.  He then looked through his wallet and then said to the COO, “Can I borrow ten bucks?”  By this point, the COO said, “You are here to interview for a position where you will be the first impression that most clients get of a 1,500 person firm.  In less than 30 minutes, you have managed to make every possible interviewing mistake there is.  I can’t even fathom you working for our company.”  The candidate responded, “A company like yours would be lucky to get me and, if you’re too stupid not to realize that, then you don’t deserve me!”  The COO responded, “You’re right…we DON’T deserve you.”

– A candidate went through a series of interviews for a Chief Operating Officer of a civil engineering company.  After negotiations were completed a start date was established.  The company made preparations for the person to begin work(office set up, computer ordered, business cards printed, etc.) and on the agreed upon date of employment the person didn’t show up.  Once the person was contacted he explained that there must have been a misunderstanding since he had never accepted the position and didn’t understand how anyone thought he was joining the firm.

– Senior candidate interviews for a job.  After several phone meetings and a local in person interview, candidate is flown across country for a meeting. The interviewer, a corporate leader, was an hour late for the 9am  interview, then unexpectedly left to handle a situation in the field – saying he would be back. The candidate was kept waiting until 3:00pm. The candidate carried on with the interview after expressing his anger at the disrespectful treatment. The interviewer asked the candidate about his age and how many more years will he be working. Then he asked the candidate if could work with minorities and women!  After all of that, the company made an offer. The candidate is not working there.

– My candidate went for a lunch interview with 3 company leaders. He used inappropriate language and told off-color jokes with a female executive present. Not that it would have been any more acceptable with all men present. Candidate also decided to tell his interviewers everything that is wrong with their firm (that he had heard). He didn’t have anything positive to add or suggestions for improvement. He was shocked when I told him the firm would not be extending an offer.

-Recently, I phone interviewed a candidate for a search. After a 40 minute conversation about his strengths, weaknesses, specific experience and what he really wanted to do, I ruled him out for my specific search. I told him he wasn’t a match, but I would keep him in mind for other opportunities. He then tried to change much of the experience his resume stated AND what he had just told me. When I wouldn’t accept his “new” story, he called my client directly, tried to get in for an interview. He didn’t get an interview.

Please share other stories! Have you had a similar WILD  experience?

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion


Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Corporate Recruiters, Interviewing. Tags: .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 from CivilEngineeringCentral.com «  |  December 27, 2011 at 10:11 am

    […] 1.      Hiring and Job Interviews Gone WILD!  A Few True Tales from the Civil Engineering Job Search Archiv… […]

  • 2. WC7  |  February 11, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    A hiring manager and I are interviewing a technical writer in a vacant exec’s office. Interview goes fine, candidate is fine, no problems. Hiring manager stands up to show the candidate out the door. As she pulls the door open, the clasp on her skirt breaks and gravity immediately has its way, sending her skirt down to her ankles. Hiring manager is mortified to be standing in the presence of HR and the candidate in her slip. Thank GOD she was wearing a slip!!! She hid behind the door until I could get the candidate out. Best closing moment EVER!

  • 3. Larry Gard Ph.D.  |  February 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the great stories! One reason they are so compelling (and why we can relate to them) is that they clearly reveal the all-too-human obstacles that prevent people from succeeding. Whether it’s ambivalence, denial, arrogance or fear, we can see how these hapless folks managed to step right into the steaming pile in front of them. It’s unfortunate (although in this case, amusing) when people can’t get out of their own way, but the appeal of these stories stems from our hope that we will never screw up anywhere near as massively.

    • 4. aepcentral  |  February 10, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Larry….Too funny but true! Carol

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by MBarcus/CECentral, MBarcus/CECentral. MBarcus/CECentral said: Hiring and Job Interviews GONE WILD! http://wp.me/paEwU-Sl […]


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