Before interviewing for a job, it’s wise to remind yourself of the worst thing that can happen—that the interviewer will politely say, “Thanks but no thanks.” This is a good way to keep yourself calm, even if the story of Guy Goma proves that, in reality, far worse things can happen.
In May 2006, Goma—a business school graduate from the Republic of the Congo—was at the BBC’s headquarters in London to interview for a job with the corporation’s IT department. While Goma waited in the reception area, a producer for BBC News 24 hurried in, looking for tech journalist Guy Kewney, who was scheduled to talk about the Apple Corps v. Apple Computer court case on the program. The receptionist pointed in Goma’s direction, and the producer whisked him into the newsroom and sat him down for a live TV interview.
Sitting under the bright studio lights, a surprised Goma wasn’t entirely sure if this was in fact his job interview or whether he was in the middle of a bizarre and terrifying misunderstanding. When BBC News 24 presenter Karen Bowerman introduces him as “Guy Kewney,” a look of queasy shock appears on Goma’s face. Nevertheless, Goma gamely makes an effort to answer Bowerman’s questions regarding a copyright case the would-be IT applicant had no reason to prepare for.
Watch Goma live out this real-life anxiety nightmare here:
After his interview, Goma told the BBC he was stressed but that he would gladly appear again on-air to speak “about any situation,” just as long as he could have more time to prepare. Realizing what had happened, a BBC spokesperson publicly addressed the incident, saying, "This has turned out to be a genuine misunderstanding.” Goma, for his part, became a minor overnight celebrity—a hero for anyone who has had to wing it after being woefully unprepared for a situation.