Before we delve into the dreaded job interview fail, let’s clear up a little housekeeping.

Today’s comic update

Before you mistakenly assume I’ve gone back to doing a comic strip, please read the blog under Tuesday’s comic. It explains how the previous comic had to be a three-quarters-of-a-page scene, which left a quarter page for today.

Job interview fail

Does anything instill a healthy does of schadenfreude like a good job interview fail? I think not.

Like the story about the person who was asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked: Sum up your best quality in one word.

The answer?

I follow directions very well.

I remember being young and fresh out of college, and I was looking for my first job. The great editorial cartoonist Bill Day had told me that if I wanted to be a cartoonist, I should find a job as a newspaper graphic artist, and submit my cartoons on the side. Now, this was back in the early 1990s, and newspapers were still healthy. There was even a trade magazine — Editor & Publisher — that covered newspaper industry.

In the back of E&P, there were classified job listings, and I went to the Battle Creek (Mich.) Library (I was doing an internship in the public-relations department of the Battle Creek Health System). I pulled the most recent copy of E&P and found a job opening for a newspaper in Canton, Ohio — The Repository.

And then, I pulled off the greatest job interview fail of my career.

job interview fail

The Repository, in Canton, Ohio

I called the editor-in-chief directly (a huge breach of etiquette) and introduced myself. After a 30-second Brad Guigar commercial (I timed it, having practiced it incessantly for a day), I told him that I would be in Canton, Ohio on Friday, and I asked if I could drop off my portfolio.

He said yes, and I immediately made plans to be in Canton that Friday. I still remember pulling into the Knight’s Inn off I-77 late Thursday afternoon. Scared out of my wits, and completely unsure of how to find the building. (This was a couple decades before iPhones, and a good stretch earlier than MapQuest.)

Long story short, I walked in, presented my portfolio, met the design manager, sat for a bunch of largely impromptu meetings, hung out for the better part of the day, and then went home.

I put my thank-you notes in the mail before I left for home. And the next week, when I made my follow-up call, I received a job offer.

It was a tremendous job. I did some pretty amazing stuff. I met the woman who would become my wife there.

And I submitted editorial cartoons faithfully.

job interview fail

On the first anniversary of my hiring date, I went to the editor’s office to thank him for taking a chance on me.

He laughed a little.

“They never told you, did they?”

“Told me what?”

“That copy of Editor & Publisher you had was about a year-and-a-half old. We didn’t have a job opening. We weren’t hiring. But you were such a force when you came in, we kinda decided we had to hire you. I’m not sure we ever had a choice.”

Best job interview fail ever.