Interview Lessons From Foolish Film Characters

June 10th, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing, Job Search, Resume | No Comments »

movie screen

You can end up tying your brain into a knot trying to memorize all the dos and don’ts of the job interview process. Thankfully, we can always rely on the movies to help us unwind.

Use the following job interview scenes from movies to learn a few painfully obvious interview mistakes to avoid (and enjoy a good laugh in the process).

Owen Wilson as Dupree; You, Me, Dupree (2006)

Dupree: “I’m a people person, very personable. I absolutely insist on enjoying life. Not so task-oriented. Not a work horse. If you’re looking for a Clydesdale I’m probably not your man. Like I don’t live to work, it’s the other way around. I work to live. Incidentally, what’s your policy on Columbus Day?”

Hiring Manager: “We work.”

Dupree: “Really? The guy discovered the new world. I’m afraid to even ask about Victory Over Japan Day.”

The Lesson:

You know all those attractive words that show off your accomplishments in the workplace? It’s still a great idea to use them, so long as you don’t put the word “not” in front of them. Also, discussing paid holidays should be left until after you are offered the job (In the case of Columbus Day, leave it out altogether).

Ben Affleck as Chuckie Sullivan pretending to be Will Hunting; Good Will Hunting (1997)

Chuckie: Nobody in this town works without a retainer guys. You think you can find somebody who does, I’ll tell you you have my blessing. But I think we all know that person isn’t going to represent you as well as I can.

Hiring Manger #1: Will… our offer is eighty-four thousand dollars a year…

Chuckie: (sighs) Retainer! Retainer…

Hiring Manger #2: You want us to give you cash right now?

Chuckie: Whoa now I didn’t say that. Allegedly, your situation – for you – would be concurrently improved if I had two hundred dollars in my back pocket right now.

The Lesson:

Unless it is specifically stated in the description of the job posting, do not ask for a retainer agreement. You’re not a lawyer.

Adam Sandler as Robbie Hart; The Wedding Singer (1998)

Hiring Manager: “Do you have any experience?”

Robbie: “No, sir, I have no experience but I’m a big fan of money. I like it, I use it, I have a little. I keep it in a jar on top of my refrigerator. I’d like to put more in that jar. That’s where you come in.”

The Lesson:

Unless brought up by the hiring manager, discussing compensation is never a good idea. If you are using it as the primary motivation for working for a company, you might as well just show yourself the door.

Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham; American Beauty (1999)

Hiring Manager: “I don’t think you’d fit in here.”

Lester: “I have fast food experience.”

Hiring Manager: “Yeah, like 20 years ago!”

Lester: “Well, I’m sure there have been amazing technological advances in the industry, but surely you must have some sort of training program. It seems unfair to presume I won’t be able to learn.”

The Lesson:

It’s a bad idea to mock hiring managers. It’s an even worse idea to accuse them of presuming anything.

Although Lester does get the job keep in mind that A) this is a movie, and B) the job was operating a fast food drive through window.

Dustin Hoffman as Ted Kramer; Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

Ted: “This is a one day offer. You saw my book, you know I can handle the work. You’re gonna have to let me know today, not at the end of the holidays. If you want me, make a decision right now.”

The Lesson:

This is another example where the bold, brash maneuver actually pays off for the protagonist, and while Ted Kramer landed a far superior job than Lester Burnham, there is still one thing to remember: he is Dustin Hoffman.

The last person in the world that you want to give an ultimatum to is a hiring manager. Unless you are Bill Gates applying for a job as a high school computer science teacher, I wouldn’t recommend this tactic.

Ewen Bremner as Spud; Trainspotting (1996)

Hiring Manager: “Mr. Murphy, do you mean that you lied on your application?”

Spud: “No! Uh. Yes. Only to get my foot in the door. Showing initiative and that like.”

Hiring Manager: “But you were referred here by the department of employment, there was no need for you to get your ‘foot in the door,’ as you put it.”

Spud: “Ehhh . . . cool. Whatever you say. I’m sorry. You’re the man. The dude in the chair.”

The Lesson:

Lying on your resume is a great way to never land a job.

By Kevin Withers

Image courtesy of Saire Elizabeth via Flickr