Notes for HR Officers: An interviewee’s point-of-view on bad mannered assessors

“From your CV, it seems like you are very professional and not adventurous. We’re looking for someone adventurous enough to take the challenge, though. I don’t see that in you.”


“You do know that it is a prestigious program and a competition, right? Lots of people would crawl for this. So what do you have to offer to us?”


“What do you bring here? —Thats it?”

A few days ago, I was on an interview for a so-called prestigious exchange program hosted by the government. I was hesitant in going through with the selection, as the program does not seem to suit my ideals well—which was later proven to be true. I used to love going on interviews—I mean, there are people who are actually listening to you on yourself, your passion, and your drives. However, this one really got on my nerves, in a negative sense. This is, with no doubt, the worst interview I’ve ever had and I think will ever have—and believe me, I’ve been through lots.

One thing I understand so far in my years chasing scholarships, jobs, and internships is that an interview is made to understand an aplicant’s character. It was fun for me because at most times, I got to understand myself too in the process. In the worst sense, however, as I recently experienced, it can be a ruthful judging arena. In the few minutes of my interview, I had contained more anger than I had during the year, and I wasn’t even on my period. The interviewer seem to have a different understanding of an interview than I do, and for that reason I am not even interested if they were to apply me the exchange spot served on a diamond plate without going through another selection process. Nope, nada.

The people who interviewed me played a classic good cop-bad cop during the session. And, as any bad cop would, he annoyed me on purpose. His expression was crazy intimidating and had that degrading mannerism, he cut my sentences short rudely without any apology, he counter-attacked each one of my half-finished statements, and when I asked him nicely to repeat his question as the room was buzzing like crazy, he snorted. I haven’t even begin how he described the oh-so-prestigious program, told me that millions would crawl for this, and I wasn’t even putting any effort to compete (yes, he literally said compete, which got me laughing on the inside). And he said that my motivation would make the program which spent millions of government’s money to waste, like literally.

They didn’t give me any chance to explain myself and just begun judging right away, like there were a set of true-false answers. Then why didn’t they just ask us to answer on a multiple-answers computer-processed answer sheet? Let me just plainly say that I hate the interview, the guy, and the organization that implement it now—and it takes very hard efforts to make me hate someone-thing.

I know that the interview style was staged—it can be seen in plain sight. It adopted stress interview method to see how the applicants would react in stresful situation as explained here.  If my intuition was wrong, then the interviewer was really just expressing his displeasure in screening a huge number of applicants. My impression, however, was not soften by the fact. I know that the program is a big deal, and representing your country is HUGE—but how about you throw some of that gazillions Indonesian dollars to pay for a HR company’s big help? The interview didn’t do anything good to either the interviewer or interviewee, and certainly not as I believe that there were some of my friends who updated their profiles with similar contents as mine. Yesterday I just got off the phone with one of my friends who also joined the selection, and we did nothing but shared our worst experience in it—we both felt utterly disgraced and insulted in those short moments. Yes, it was that bad.

Liz Ryan from Forbes highlighted ten rude and unprofessional behavior in interviews, and I am convinced that I was at least subjected to five of those during the interview. It was the first time that I felt I was literally insulted publicly. And somehow, I just can’t seem to shrug off the bitter aftertaste of the interview.

You can check out Liz’s article here.

Bad mannerism might be a good way to get a direct answer from someone and see how they react when pressured, but believe me this, it is not a good way to understand someone’s true character nor will it makes them want to pursue you further. Interviews work both ways—the interviewer can understand applicants’ character, and the interviewees can get to know the company or organization better. When it does not go well, let’s just say that the image that will be tarnished will not only be the intervewees’. And as explained by Alison here, it can even make the most successful applicant turn down the offer. Only true masochists would continue after being treated like that.

In this case, no harm done to me as I get to understand that the organization was just not for me. I now perceive it as highly narcistic and judging, and doesn’t even bother to put any effort to respect people interested in it.

“As long as we got all we want, that’s excellent! Who cares about what you think?”

My advice to those of you who are currently looking for employments or scholarships is that don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. If the company or organization doesn’t respect you in any sense, they don’t deserve you. A selection process is only the start, and if you got on the wrong foot then moving forward, it would only end up with more bruises on your part. Chances are everywhere and there wil be lots of great people that have enough manner to appreciate you while still letting you learn in the process. You deserve better, and I know it.

Just throw the stupidly rude interviewer out of the room. Call your HR officer!

Oh, and by the way, the organization was PCMI Yogyakarta.

Lintang Cahyaningsih


Leave a Reply