One of the most memorable awful interview experiences I ever had with a job candidate occurred circa 1988 but I recall it as if it were last week.
Back in those Banking Industry days of mine, I conducted 25+ interviews each week, having the need to staff open positions across a number of branches and corporate departments. One hot and steamy day when the temperature was well into the 80’s by mid-morning, ‘Monica’ came in for a scheduled interview. As we were sitting in my office an announcement came over the building-wide intercom (extraordinarily unusual in and of itself; I can’t recall any other time in the many years I worked there when this was used): “Would the owner of a tan Mercedes Benz with the license plate ‘Rocky’ please report to the bank lobby.”
Needless to say I wasn’t the owner of a Mercedes; I worked in HR after all, not the Mortgage Department. And Monica didn’t blink an eye. So we carried on.
5 minutes later – announcement #2: “Would the owner of a tan Mercedes Benz with the license plate ‘Rocky’ please report to the bank lobby.”
“I wonder what that’s about?” I said as way of conversational chit chat.
“I wonder too,” said Monica.
Within a few short minutes, a knock came at my door. I opened the door to find the VP of Operations (responsibilities includes security and facilities management) and the CEO’s Executive Secretary. They glanced right at Monica and Mr. VP asked “Ma’m – are YOU the owner of a tan Mercedes Benz with the license plate ‘Rocky’?”
“Not mine,” said Monica.
“You’re sure?” asked Mr. VP.
“Yes,” said Monica.
“Sorry to disturb you then.” And they closed the door.
Before I barely had time to pick up my pen, they door opened again.
“Ma’m,” said Mr. VP “I’m pretty certain that you are the owner of the car and I suggest you come with me right away as the police have been called.”
And up she stood, grabbed her purse and scurried on out of my office.
Chaos ensued. The building buzz became a roar. People crowded by windows to glance out at the parking lot trying to get a glimpse of the tan Mercedes Benz with the license plate ‘Rocky.” Everyone from up and down the hall came into the HR Department to see what I knew about Monica.
And then the story became came out.
Monica, as one can guess, was indeed the owner of the tan Mercedes Benz with the license plate ‘Rocky.’ It appears that when Monica arrived for her scheduled interview she parked in the visitor’s lot – leaving her window cracked open as an accommodation to the 80+ degree heat. But also as an accommodation to her infant daughter slumbering in a car seat. A bank customer, arriving to conduct some business, parked next to the Mercedes, heard the baby crying and came scurrying into the building to alert bank staff.
Bad move and bad judgment. Heartbreaking each and every time we hear stories of parents or caregivers who leave children in vehicles on hot days. These things never turn out well.
Monica, apparently, wanted (needed?) to keep this appointment even though it meant putting her child in danger. The thing that got me however was the fact that she did not go jumping from her chair the very first time they paged the owner of the car. There wasn’t a muscle on her body that even moved reflexively.
She was given a citation/ticket from the police. She’s fortunate she wasn’t given something much worse when she opened her car door.
Oh…and the next day she called wanting to reschedule the interview. As she pointed out to me – “we got interrupted.”