Five years ago this month I totally choked at a job interview and audition. Good thing I can laugh about it now.
I didn’t have a contract at WREG in Memphis, hadn’t sent out any resumes and had no idea what I was going to do next. I wasn’t doing much except complaining.
My cellphone rang one day and the call was from the news director at the tv station I really wanted to work for in Birmingham. Morning anchor job open, come down for interview and audition next weekend.
The next day, a news director friend in Knoxville called with the exact same opening. Fly in next weekend for an interview and audition.
I don’t remember how I moved them around but I ended up flying to Knoxville first one Sunday morning during the ratings book. I brought a suit and tie with me and the news director picked me up at the airport. I had no idea that I was about to give him and the general manager the worst job interview they would ever witness.
I was to do a couple of newscast blocks with the current female morning anchor that the new hire would be working with every morning. Before going into the studio I stepped into the restroom to change into my suit and tie. I wanted to relax a little and this was back when I dipped snuff about every 45 minutes, so while I got dressed and put on my makeup, I snuck a little pinch of Skoal.
A man walked in and said hi. Asked what I was doing and I explained I was there for an interview. He said, “Bill make you wear a tie?”
Now at this point I thought, ‘this guy looks like management and maybe he’s the general manager who’s come to interview me”. I also thought I picked up on some sense of humor in his question so I kinda joked “well, he said there would probably be some big wigs to impress.”
It went over that morning about as well as it goes over 5 years later in text. Nada. Nothing. Silence.
“Good luck” he says and walks out.
The newscast was horrible. I felt no connection at all with the news, the set or the co-anchor. She was very nice, a very good anchor, very personable but for whatever reason I sense a connection.
I don’t think I read the prompter that horribly but the ad-lib banter between the two of us was forced and not very amusing. The tosses to weather and sports and traffic were the same. I even stumbled when I started one segment with the time and temperature. I stunk up the joint.
We moved to their talk-show set next and this is what I love. No script, live and off-the-cuff chit chat. Again, I stunk. For whatever reason my brain just could not come up with anything interesting to say. The news director sensed that I was uncomfortable and offered a do-over.
It was no better. Maybe even worse because I used some of the same banter that didn’t work the first time.
The interview with the general manager was next. In hindsight I probably should have mentioned by failed attempt at humor earlier but I didn’t. So I think he saw me as one of the biggest smart alecks he’d run across. I answered the questions poorly. “What is your biggest weakness” (as an employee). Normally I’d say “I don’t play office politics as well as I’d like” or “I work too hard and care too much” (not really but something better than “I can’t remember names”.
If someone had been wearing an “I’m With Stupid T-shirt”, everyone in the room would push me to stand next to him.
I told my friend later that I felt like I was sorta drunk during the audition and interview. That it all seemed kinda like a dream. Now I think it may have, or could have been a mild seizure or maybe the after effects of a seizure.
I’m still bothered by such a bad interview. I run into one of the reporters from that station every now and then in Nashville and I hope he doesn’t remember how bad I was that Sunday. And I hardly ever talk to my friend Bill anymore. Sometimes I think that might be because he talked me up to the gm before and was embarrassed that he’d done so afterwords.
It’s hard to believe that was 5 years ago and I have to wonder what life would be like if I’d have done a better job that morning or if I’d gotten the job in Birmingham.
Not that I’m wishing things were different now. But both were jobs that I wanted at stations I really wanted to work for and in cities where I’ve felt at home. I wouldn’t take a ‘do-over’ on either of those now because Nashville is where I feel God has placed me to live.
But when I look back at horrible job interviews, the one in Knoxville stands above, or below the others. The worst. I actually considered sending the general manager an apology letter for my lousy impression.
All of this hit me on this five year anniversary because of this new website called “howtonailaninterview.com”
It’s brand new, they just posted the videos on YouTube yesterday. Check out how stupid some interviewees are and why they make me feel a bit better about myself.