My car was in the shop the day I went to interview for the job of lead reporter for Technical.ly Delaware.
We were meeting at 1313 Innovation, about a mile and a half from where I live in Little Italy. An easy walk, except it was late July and hot as hell. Chris and Zack pretended not to notice my profuse sweating, and I got the job. If I had to do it again, I’d’ve walked over to 1313 an hour earlier and fully cooled down before the meeting.
I’ve never known anyone who actually enjoys job interviews, but they have to be done. Some job interviews are assembly-line routine and forgettable, even if you land the job. Many are anything but forgettable, and those are the ones you can learn from.
We asked people in Delaware to share their most memorable job interviews. We were not disappointed — except maybe with the 1980s.
(And psst, as a reminder: NET/WORK Delaware takes place March 20 at CSC. Join us there to find your own new gig.)
Holy Batmobile, it’s a new job!
Ken Grant, the public and government affairs manager for the state of Delaware with AAA Mid-Atlantic, landed the job after an unusual roadside assistance encounter:
“I’d had a couple of meetings with [AAA executives] about this position at AAA Mid-Atlantic, and they asked me to come in for another opportunity to talk about the job,” said Grant when he announced his new position in 2016. “The evening before that meeting, I was driving along Kirkwood Highway when I saw the Batmobile parked on the side of the road. Seriously, this was one of the cars used as a stunt vehicle during the television show in the late ’60s.”
It turned out the driver plays Batman at local events and was on its way to one when the fuel pump gave out.
“He and the car’s owner were trying to get the Batmobile to Middletown to be part of Kay’s Kamp, which provides children ages 5 to 17 currently battling cancer and those in remission the opportunity to participate in a unique camping experience,” Grant said. “After trying a few of the normal things, Batman said, ‘I have to call Triple-A.’ In no time, a driver from AAA showed up and the Batmobile was on it’s way to Kay’s Kamp for their comic-con day.
“So, the next day when I went in for the interview, I shared the story of how Batman uses AAA and how great it is to know the organization that helped make sure the kids at Kay’s Kamp would get a great experience.”
The AAA reached out to Batman and Kay’s Kamp, and soon posted this:
Sometimes the hero of the day shows up in a AAA tow truck! When the Caped Crusader’s beloved Batmobile broke down on the…
“Oh,” Grant said, “and that’s when [AAA executives] Cathy [Rossi] and Jim [Lardear] asked if I’d be interested in joining their team.”
And it didn’t end there.
“Two weeks after starting the job at AAA — and specifically because of the Batmobile experience — we were able to do this”:
“What do you do?”
Some interviewers use riddles to test prospective employees, as John Moore, cofounder of Funderbolt, learned in the ’80s.
“I was interviewing for a job as the assistant to the highest-paid guy on Wall Street in 1986. He asked me, ‘Imagine you are driving down a deserted road in a two-seater sports car. You see three people who all want a ride. Your boss, an old lady and a beautiful girl. What do you do?’
“It was a hard question because no one answer was obviously right. You take your boss and you are a brown-noser. You take the old lady and you are an altruist. You take the beautiful girl and you are a self-centered opportunist. The question also was at the heart of the job qualifications because deal-making is figuring out how to make everybody feel like they win in a transaction.
“The right answer, the one that ultimately got me the job was, “Give the keys to my boss to drive the old lady home and walk off with the beautiful girl.”
(Kind of makes you wonder how many women were being interviewed … )
Joe Johnson of Shiny Advertising was given the brutal truth in one job interview:
“I was once pulled into the office of the president of a family-run business. It was him, the person I would be replacing and me. After a brief conversation, he asked the other person to step out of the room. He then looked me directly in the eye and said, ‘I want to talk to you about nepotism.’
“That is truly a direct quote, and the gist of the rest of the conversation was, ‘because it’s rampant here and if you don’t like that, you should walk away.’ Which is what I did. I didn’t even send a followup.”
Sometimes, emotions take over
“I got teary-eyed (okay, maybe I did cry) during the interview because I was so passionate about the job and had so much respect for the people I would be working under,” said Marinela Pulcano, who works in the youth programs department at Delaware Technical Community College.
Definitely not legal
Sometimes, interviewers break the law. Know your rights — you do not have to answer certain questions by law. In ZeroWait founder Mike Linett’s case, a manger showed his true colors in an interview that would be a potential social media scandal today.
“The most memorable interview I had was at Giant Foods in Maryland in 1981 right after I graduated from the University of Delaware. The interview seemed to be going well until the manager asked me, ‘What are you?’ I answered that I just graduated from the University of Delaware with a business degree. He said, ‘No, what are you?’ I said something like, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question,’ and he said ‘What is your religion.’
“I told him I was Jewish — and the interview abruptly ended and I was asked to leave.”
If you’re discriminated against in a job interview, it should be reported to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After the EEOC investigates the inquiry, they may find that you have a case against the company for unlawful discrimination. Reports are filed via the EEOC public portal.-30-
The biggest mistake tech job applicants make (and other advice)
How do you create a job that doesn’t exist?
4 lessons on interviewing for tech jobs, aka the art of being imperfect
Delaware tech jobs by the numbers: How small is the pond?
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