“I Don’t Have The Lakas” and Other Interview Bloopers

I’ll admit it. One of the many things that I love about my job is the fact that I meet new people through interviews. I enjoy talking to applicants, getting to know more about them, hearing their aspirations, and okay, to be honest, seeing them squirm in their seats, anxious and pale, as I look at them straight in the eye and ask them my favorite questions. Yeah, I’m mean, I know.

I have been doing interviews for the past six years. Nope, I was never a part of the recruitment team at work, but I always get chosen to screen applicants for my team. Even now, my position requires that I conduct interviews with potential employees and interrogate ask them the usual questions to size them up, to know whether they can fill our vacancies. I have been blown away by a handful of interviewees, but there are a number who have made it to my “unforgettable” interviewees list.

What should you do to have your name on my list? Commit the five mortal sins, the five absolute no-no’s during your interview with me:

1. Speak in the vernacular. I always conduct my interviews in English, so I expect to be answered in English. Carabao English is fine, I could give points for the effort. I keep a mental scoreboard of an applicant’s grammar lapses because I believe that being able to express yourself clearly is a sign of confidence and possibly, intellect. The more grammar slips I hear, the smaller the chance of getting hired (that’s just me). Don’t get me wrong, I am a Filipina who loves our language, but in interviews I find it unacceptable when I throw a question in English and the applicant responds in Tagalog. I expect a YES or a NO when I ask, “Are you nervous?” However, I also get extremely annoyed when an interviewee answers in “pasosyal na kolehiyala” English. As in kainis, like duh.

Patty: Any attendance issues in your previous company? Were you ever tardy or absent?
Applicant: No Ma’am, no issues. Sometimes I cannot avoid it though, I was absent for a few times because I don’t have the lakas to go to work. I get sick.
Patty (napataas na ang kilay ng konti): How do you ensure that you get along with your teammates and that you enjoy work?
Applicant: Uhmmm.. We always have fun, eat, and during shift we make kulit to each other.

What the hell! Sorry, but I didn’t have the lakas to hire her. I didn’t even have to make isip, like duh. Kaasar much.

2. Dress like you’re going to the mall or worse, like you’re going to a party. Believe me, I’ve seen it all. From interviewees dressed in jeans and shirts to interviewees wearing cropped pants and dirty footwear. Please, we all know that first impressions last. Appearance says something about an applicant’s preparedness. I am immediately impressed by an interviewee who shows up on time in a crisp polo, ironed pants, and black leather shoes or looks put together in a nice, conservative blouse and pencil skirt. I am absolutely ticked off by applicants who never bother donning decent clothing for their interviews. One time I interviewed an applicant who wore a mini denim skirt. Gigimik ka, ‘teh? Pengeng cellulites! Juiceko.

3. Come to the office or interview venue late, or call a few minutes before the appointed time to have the interview rescheduled. Unless you got caught in a life or death situation or you were abducted by aliens, you should always arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled interview. Parang yung tagline lang yan ng pizza delivery – I hate late!

4. Lie about your capabilities, your skills, your knowledge about something.

Patty: Please rate your Excel skills from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest.
Applicant 1: 8, I think 8. For reports.
Patty: So you are familiar with formulas? Like VLOOKUP, or you can create charts, pivot tables, macros?
Applicant 1: Uhmmm Ma’am Word po pala ang ginagamit namin sa reports.

8 pala ha!!

Patty: If you were to rate your Excel proficiency from 1-10, 10 being the highest, what score would you give yourself?
Applicant 2: I can give myself a 9. I’m really familiar with Excel.
Patty: Okay great! So here’s a quiz, ten items for five minutes. You just have to show me the answers using formulas. (Gave a quiz which requires VLOOKUP, Sum, Average, and Text formulas). After 10 minutes, the applicant gave up.
Applicant 2: Ma’am I really think I need a refresher because I forgot the formula for adding. Hihi. But I used them before in our reports po. I just need a refresher.

Eto tubig, ibuhos mo sa sarili mo ng ma-refresh ka. Pagpunta mo dito sa office bigla mong nakalimutan ang lahat ng alam mo? Memory gap? Mental block? Liar, liar pants on fire…

5. Don’t pay attention to my question, or don’t try to comprehend what I mean. Answer in short sentences, do not sound interested, do not try to sell yourself. Never expound on your one-worded answers.

Patty: So how much is your expected salary?
Applicant 1: Oh it’s okay.
Patty: Pardon?
Applicant 1: It’s okay.

Wow. I-hire na ‘to, libre lang! Pa-kapehin lang at bigyan ng pamasahe!

Patty: What have you been busy with for the past three months? (Applicant has been unemployed for three months already)
Applicant 2: Uhmmm, nothing.
Patty: What about reading? Checking articles on the internet? Outdoor activities?
Applicant 2: Uhmmm sometimes my friends would pick me up. Gimmick. Yun po.

Errr. Friends of this applicant, paki-sundo na ang babaeng ito at gumimik na lang kayo habang buhay bago tuluyang mag-init ang ulo ko sa pagsasayang niya ng oras ko.

Patty: We need someone who can easily learn the systems that we use here. In your previous job, did you use any systems for data management or encoding?
Applicant 3: Yes Ma’am, we do. Uhmmm… I forgot the name, it was for attendance keeping, what do you call that?

Malay ko sa’yo! Isipin mo muna tapos balik ka na lang ‘pag naalala mo na!

Patty: Do you have any questions or clarifications?
Applicant 4: Are you strict with attendance? Do you give ten minutes grace period? Paano po kung gustong mag-leave or mag-change ng schedule?

Yes, I’m strict. Now leave, mag-leave ka na lang habang buhay.

Every time I recall these interviews, I laugh and cringe at the same time. An interview provides the applicant an opportunity to highlight his skills, qualifications, and assets. Pero epic fail lang ang mga interviewees na biglang nag-Tatagalog, mukhang hindi prepared, late at pawisan pagdating sa interview, or parang lost lang or nagmamarunong sa Excel.

Interviews are scheduled in advance to give applicants ample time to prepare, even to rehearse if necessary. The corporate jungle is a big, chaotic space where everyone fights for his own spot. Interviewees who show that they have researched about the company and came ready to ace the interview, and of course dressed up for the one-hour (or even less) encounter with the person who has the power to decide their fate will stand out compared to those who lack the confidence to even converse in straight English.
I have always taken delight in being interviewed, most probably because I have done too many myself that I already know the usual questions and even the answers that are expected from me. To avoid these blunders and successfully finish an interview, here are some tips (tried and tested, promise):

1. Be confident. Kahit pa manager or kataas-taasang pinuno ang interviewer, you have to show that you are confident. Unfortunately, hindi nabibili ang confidence sa suking tindahan pero nakukuha ito through practice, practice, practice. Ask someone to pretend to be your interviewer. Rehearse your lines.
2. Research about the company. Mahiya ka naman, huwag kang lalabas ng bahay ng wala kang alam sa kumpanyang gusto mong pasukan. Pero sana ‘wag mo naman i-memorize yung Vision Mission statement or history ng company at i-recite verbatim during the interview.
3. Interview etiquette – shake the hand of the interviewer properly, look the person in the eye, talk at the same pace as the interviewer, ‘wag maging kiti kiti sa upuan. Be conscious of your posture and mannerisms. Huwag magkamot, lumingon sa kisame dahil wala dyan ang sagot, tumawa ng malakas lalo na kung hindi naman nagpapatawa ang kausap, at matutong mag “Thank you” sa interviewer (kahit na malakas ang feeling mong hindi ka niya ipapasa).
4. Mag-invest sa maayos na polo, slacks or skirt, at shoes. Promise magagamit mo ‘yan ng maraming beses, so buy a few pieces of clothing that you can use for formal occasions like an interview. Dress to impress. Pero please konting ingat sa pabango.
5. Imagine that you are a product and you are selling yourself to a potential buyer. Make sure lang na hindi ka eksaherada at sabihin mong alam mo lahat lalo na kung hindi ka talaga marunong mag-VLOOKUP or hindi ka naman kagaya ni Kuya Kim na nakalunok yata ng encyclopedia of scientific names.

Hope you found the bloopers funny and the tips useful. Good luck!

Interview blunders, interview tips
Image grabbed from Google
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3 thoughts on ““I Don’t Have The Lakas” and Other Interview Bloopers

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