Interview(er) Tips

Jason English

Back in college, I secured an interview with Bates, a large and storied and now-defunct advertising agency with headquarters in New York. I drove 530 miles for this interview, rehearsing while cruising up I-95. During the meeting, I asked a question about the Bates Rising Stars Program, an effort to prove I really had done my research. Or at least glanced at their website.

"Uh, yeah, I wasn't accepted," my interviewer told me. "But I know what I need to work on. Next year." Clearly my candidacy was a high priority. He went on to say they weren't really planning on hiring entry-level people.  I couldn't believe I'd wasted two tanks of gas for this.

That gets my vote as my worst interview experience, but at least no laws were broken. You've got to be careful when it comes to what you ask. The following are illegal interview questions:

"¢ "Is it Mrs., Miss, or Ms.?"

"¢ "What's your maiden name?"

"¢ "Can I see your birth certificate?" (NOTE: This is kosher after you've been hired.)

"¢ "Could you have your church officials send over a recommendation?" (OK, not all of these are surprising.)

"¢ "Do you have children?"

"¢ "So, you're no longer in the military. What gives?"

"¢ "It says here you speak Spanish. Where'd you pick that up?"

"¢ "No convictions. But how about arrests?"

"¢ "Can I take your picture?"

Anyone have any good/horrible/surreal interview stories? What's the craziest thing you've been asked?