Recently, I was reminded of an interview that still makes me cringe. In the mid-2010s, I was looking for new international opportunities. After finding out I was losing my eyesight, I decided to explore the world while I could still see (spoiler: I still have a fair amount of sight!). I needed some sort of employment to finance this grand plan, and so I started searching for jobs.
Pretty quickly, someone scheduled an interview with me to discuss writing for their entertainment company. It was an industry I knew nothing about, but it sounded interesting. Plus, I always appreciate extra interview practice.
I remember sitting on a video call one April 1st as the two interviewers explained their workflow to me. I sat, listened, and tried to see how I would fit in and where I could help. That’s when they explained their unusual delivery method for sharing final products. I can’t remember if it was multiple flash drives, CDs, or something else that appeared outdated.
Having no experience in entertainment, I rolled with it. They seemed to be a smaller operation — maybe they were doing their best. The rest of the interview went fairly normally, and we ended the call. I thought I had done…decently.
Instead of the standard email rejection or silence, I received a call. The primary interviewer snickered as he confessed they had played “A bit of an April Fool’s prank” on me during my interview. I was shocked and quickly started running through what I had said and where the prank could have been.
Well, apparently, that outdated delivery system was their “joke.” I was stunned. I had taken the interview seriously and thought they had done the same. As the interviewer explained I hadn’t gotten the job (partly because I believed the prank), I felt empty. I was so embarrassed. Should I have known? Should I have questioned it? It did seem odd. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, how was that even funny?
I also thought about how they must have enjoyed hanging up on that call with me. While I anxiously awaited an update, they probably felt gleeful that I had fallen for their prank. I wondered if it happened to any other candidates, or was it just me? I carried this fear into future interviews, becoming suspicious and guarded. For years I was fearful that I was missing another joke.
Years later, I now know that job interviews aren’t the place for pranks. People show up nervous enough. Often, they need these jobs very badly and are not prepared to field jokes. I’m sure there are those who will disagree, but to me, that crosses a very defined line.
As I start to review my career path, moments like this stick out. Yes, there are more moments that I will leave for future articles. They are sharp little reminders that the world of looking for a job can be more than just a sea of rejections with a few glimmers of acceptance — it can actually be damaging.
If you are an interviewee, don’t let people treat you like this. That’s easier said than done, especially since it often happens suddenly. My advice is if you get a gut feeling that you aren’t being treated well by the interviewer, walk away. As tough as that can be (especially in this climate) it is likely a peek into things to come if you do end up getting the job.
Also if you are an interviewer and you think “Wouldn’t it be funny if I…?” Stop. It won’t be funny and it might end up hurting your interviewee’s confidence like it did to me.