My most embarrassing interview stories
Updated: Apr 28
I've had LOTS of jobs and even though I've rarely been out of a role, I've had some pretty hilarious interview experiences.
Rocky start in The Rocks
Like the time Google Maps put me at the wrong end of The Rocks and I ran up and down for over 20 minutes trying to find the Sydney Festival office for my internship interview.
I was so confused and flustered, I eventually had to call Reception to get step-by-step directions to the right location, and I arrived sweaty and sticky and embarrassed, but thankfully on time.
Or the time I was enjoying a cruisey coffee down the block from my interview with Frucor Suntory, just chillin'. I had purposely gotten to North Strathfield early and had plenty of time. Or so I thought.
Cradling my cappuccino, I got a phone call from my recruiter asking why I hadn't turned up to the client's office yet. Turns out I'd gotten the interview time wrong (first time EVER), and I was already 15 minutes late.
I raced to their offices, sweaty, sticky, embarrassed and this time super late, and attempted to salvage the situation.
My most recent experience though will probably ring more familiar - because a year ago I did a virtual job interview.
And it would have been fine.
Except that I wasn't at home.
You see, I was staying up at my parents' beach house for the month of December and I hadn't expected to interview. A dream job came up with QBE that I couldn't turn away so I found myself sifting through my suitcase to find something appropriate to wear and giving my parents strict instructions not to watch Netflix or mow the lawn or make a smoothie while I was on my video call.
Interview #1 went swimmingly - except that because I was a guest on the client's Microsoft Teams, I could only see the person who was talking on my screen. The second interviewer was always hidden, so I never knew if they were trying to ask a question or cut in!
Interview #2, I kid you not, in the first few minutes the landline phone beside me began to ring.
Firstly... who has a landline phone these days? (My parents, that's who!).
Secondly... picking up the receiver and putting it back down does NOT hang it up... no no, instead it sends it through to the voicemail message which plays out loud, which you CANNOT STOP.
My goodness, it was so embarrassing and really... amateur.
The future is virtual
Look, I ended up getting the role but it's safe to say that virtual job interviews are not going anywhere, especially for Changies.
I've been talking a lot about virtual connection and engagement lately, including my recent Leading Virtual Teams webinar, because so many of my students are still struggling with it.
And while interviews have always been minefields for nerves and embarrassment, in many ways, coming across professionally, confidently and authentically in a virtual interview is often harder than if you were to meet face-to-face.
Building rapport, chatting casually, making appropriate jokes, finding the right environment, deciding on what to wear, and successfully sharing your engagement and enthusiasm through the screen are still hard 18 months later.
That's why next week I'll be filming an Ask Me Anything session with top Change recruiter and host of the Change It podcast, Eloise Seidelin. We're collecting anonymous questions on how to nail virtual job interviews, and will answer them as part of the session.
So I'd love to know - what's the hardest part of virtual job interviews for you?
Leave a comment on this blog post or shoot me a private message on LinkedIn.
P.S. I ended up getting the Sydney Festival internship, being offered a role at Frucor Suntory, and getting the dream QBE role last year. Why? Because I've spent years building my confidence, leadership and connection skills, which helps me get through awkward, embarrassing and tricky situations.
I'm Lata Hamilton - Change Leadership and Confidence expert, Founder & CEO of Passion Pioneers, and the creator of the Leading Successful Change program.
Grab my free Underpaid & Overlooked Coaching Action Guide to learn how to change careers with confidence and earn your worth - download it here.