The Worst Interview of My Life.

The eye contact. Oh my God, the eye contact.

He stared me down. His face didn’t move. He never blinked. His eyeballs followed my every millimeter of movement. It was perfect.

He was the Michael Jordan of eye contact. If there was an eye contact competition he would win 10 years straight.

He was interviewing me for an entry-level job out of college.

He asked me a stupid, simple question. A question that was directly related to my major and experience. I had spent 4 years waiting for this exact question.

I had an answer prepared. Right before I was about to blurt out my canned answer, I made a huge mistake.

I looked directly into his pupils.

It was the equivalent of looking directly at the solar eclipse without glasses. My brain immediately told me, “Don’t use your perfectly prepared answer. Say something else. Anything else. Just don’t use that answer.”

I went on to blurt out the biggest bullshit answer that you have ever heard in your entire life. It was such great bullshit that I actually got him to smile and look away from me.

I didn’t get past the first round.

I was just glad to get out of that room alive. This interview was 10 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.

But wait — that’s not the best part.

A classmate of mine got accepted to that very same company right out of college, and the guy who interviewed me ended up being his boss. At a BBQ somehow my name comes up and he ended up telling my classmate that I was the biggest clown he’d ever met.

I ended up interviewing with this company 3 years later and received a job offer, which I took. I sent a cordial email to Eye Contact Guy when I joined.

He never responded. I don’t blame him.

worst interview 2

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I learned two lessons from this experience that relate to personal branding.

1) The only way to predict if someone embraces your brand is to test it on them in real life, not behind a computer screen.

Get as many face-to-face chances as you can and tell them who you are and what you believe in. Pay close attention to their reaction. Do they get super excited, or do they blow you off? Take note and learn from it. Embrace rejection and embarrassment.

Not everyone will love you for who you are or who you want to be, and that’s OK.

2) Always keep in touch with your haters.

Although I never got the chance to meet with Eye Contact Guy (I need to find out his real name), I’ll definitely be excited to see him and talk about my experience with him.

Success is the best revenge.

BTW, if you have excellent eye contact and work or used to work for a large consulting company (and you look like you belong in the Addams Family), please send me an email. I have a few things to share with you.

PS: Read the only resignation letter template you’ll ever need.