‘The Intouchables’ contest: Tell us about your interview experience

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On Friday, May 25, the highly lauded French film “The Intouchables” makes its way to the U.S. after a successful overseas run. The film tells the story of Phillipe, a wealthy quadriplegic man who is looking for a full-time caretaker. He ultimately hires Driss, who has a criminal past and doesn’t want the position or even think he’s actually in the running for it. That indifference to the position is evident in his demeanor during the interview. He wears a hoodie, gives curt answers and doesn’t exhibit all those positive body language tips we recommend. He’s basically the opposite of the ideal job seeker you usually strive to be.

Yet, he gets the job. Phillipe has seen a parade of identical applicants who all have the same educational background, personality and lack of chemistry he needs in a caretaker. He sees something special in Driss, or at least he hopes he sees it. Of course, Phillipe has his doubters who don’t think Driss can do the job. Driss accepts the role and, since we are talking about a movie, the two men form a unique and entertaining friendship. Meanwhile everyone around them is bewildered by the success of their relationship.

“The Intouchables” got us thinking that we’ve all probably been in situations somewhat similar to Driss. Maybe not exactly like him, but close enough that we can relate. Either we went on a job interview just to get the practice but suddenly found ourselves intrigued by the role, or maybe we were eager for a role even though everyone told us we didn’t have a shot. Either way, we’ve been on that side of the interviewer’s desk before, and it’s not always fun.

Together with The Weinstein Company (which produced the film), we want to hear your story and give away a $250 Visa gift card. Answer one of the following three questions in our comments section below, and we’ll select a winner from the responses.

a. Have you ever taken a job you weren’t sure about, only to end up loving it? Tell us about it.

b. What was the most fun/strangest/most unusual interview experience you ever had?

c. Tell us about a time when you took a job that no one thought you could do.

Share your story with us, and hopefully you’ll win the contest. Good luck!


Entries will be accepted from 12:00 a.m. CST on Monday, May 21, 2012 until 11:59 p.m. CST on Sunday, May 27, 2012.  Each account may only submit one answer for consideration; subsequent entries will not be considered. Spam responses will not be considered. The winner will be picked at random and notified via email the week of May 27, 2012. Please read the full list of official contest rules and regulations.

  1. @AnthonyBalderrama I certainly had the experience of question (a).  Fresh out of college and seeking a challenge, I applied for a counselor job with #EckerdYouthAlternatives, a camp for troubled youth.  I had never worked in any form of camp or enforcement.  Initially, I applied as a “just for fun, try to apply.”  Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to North Carolina and one of the most rewarding positions of my life.  It was not at all what I had expected as I learned just as much from the juvenille offenders as they learned from me.  I gained insight into how a child can become so entrenched in the criminal life and that all any body ever wants in life is to have someone believe in them and care.

  2. My most fun/strangest/most unusual interview experience?  Here you go:
    I was asked to come out to visit a research lab in the Southwest for a postdoc interview and presentation.  They were paying all the expenses so I figured, “Why not?”.  But several days before the trip, I noticed two red areas appear on my face.  One on each cheek.  I was breaking out and I could tell that it was going to be massive.  I had to make some fast decisions.  Do I not go and miss a great opportunity to meet some new contacts and check this place out or do I go and risk utter humiliation and embarrassment from the time I step out my front door?   Well, darn it, I went for it.  On the morning of the flight, I looked in the mirror and, sure enough, the two red areas on my cheeks were bigger and brighter than before.  I had to do something but I didn’t want to be gross and make things worse so I found an alternative:  I covered each area with band-aids.  Now, I figured, if anyone saw me, they would just think I had been in a fist-fight, had facial reconstructive surgery, or been in a car accident or something.  Great idea, right?  Wrong.  When I got to the airport and went to check my luggage the clerk took one look at me and immediately called security over to mark my bags for a later search.  At that point, I knew it was going to be an interesting next several days.  My “radar” was on constantly from then on, searching for any reaction to my facial appearance.  And I was not disappointed.  I got everything from teenaged-girls giggling as they walked by to foreign-speaking people standing right next to me, having lively discussions about my “condition”.  I even witnessed one of the security screeners do a “double-take” and “lock in” on me as I approached the screening area and beyond.  I had a feeling my movements were tracked the entire time I was at the airport that day, so I tried to act as “non suspicious” as possible.  I was just going to a job interview, for goodness sake, so what’s the big deal, I thought.  When I finally got on the plane and found my seat, an elderly woman sat down next to me.  We exchanged pleasantries and then we settled in for the two hour flight.  I decided to attempt to sleep most of the way and to try not to be so paranoid.  But every time I opened my eyes, I caught the elderly lady staring at me.  When the plane finally landed, she was one of the first people to de-plane.  I guess she thought I had some kind of disease (that begins with an “A”).  After I got off, I got my rental car and drove out to a hotel near the lab.  I had the interview and presentation the next day and I was to meet up with the P.I. (Principal Investigator) in the morning to take me in and show me around.  “Oh, the horror!”, I thought.  After a fitful night of sleep, I awoke and checked out my “wounds”.  They were just as ripe as can be.  Well, I still wasn’t going to be gross, so I got out some fresh band-aids and applied them.  Now I was ready for another day, filled with paranoid dillusions, humiliation and embarrassment. I met up with the P.I. at the lab and he greeted me warmly and told me I would be talking with about 10 people that day and then I would give a 45 minute presentation and then we would go and have dinner.  My “radar” was on full blast and sweeping far and wide.  But I wasn’t picking up any “anomalies”.  Everybody I met that day was friendly and accommodating and we had great discussing about what was happening at the lab and how I could contribute to it.  And there was nary a snicker or a giggle or a wince.  And the time just flew by.  It flew by so quickly that by the time I was to give my presentation, I had not had time to prepare.  And my mind suddenly went blank. So there I was.  It was about 4:00pm.  I was in an auditorium staring out at about 50 people. Band-aids on each cheek. There was no microphone.  I didn’t know how the projector worked so I had to fiddle with it until the P.I. came to my rescue.  I started to speak and somebody in the back of the room immediately told me to speak louder.  I tried to talk louder and after awhile I just got softer again. (Let me point out here that I have a tendency to mumble when I talk.  It’s actually a family trait).  They didn’t give me a pointer, but I (luckily) thought enough to bring my own.  It was an antenna from an old television that I had and it usually worked pretty well.  This time it did not.  I ended up just standing over the projection screen using a pen. And then my nose started to run.  And when I leaned over the projector, it dripped on the slides.  And then my slides got out of order and I couldn’t find my next slide.  And then people started to get up and leave.  I dont know how long that presentation took.  An hour maybe, I dont know, probably longer.  I finally cut my losses and wrapped the thing up and the few people left in the audience stood and actually applauded.  I hoped some of them felt my pain.  I apologized profusely to the P.I. and told him that I was just exhausted from a long day.  I also told him that I do not like to give presentations because I was just not comfortable with it (especially when I looked so bad and was so self-conscious).  He didn’t say a word, just nodded his head.  We went to his house that late afternoon and he introduced me to his family.  He then told me he had promised his neighbor that he was going to help chop down a tree.  But he needed some help.  I agreed to lend a hand.  (By the way, I’m still in my “interview” clothes).  So we went outside, he got his chainsaw and a helmet, and we headed across the street. We then met up with his neighbor, got a rope and headed for the tree in question.  This tree was about 40 feet tall and leaning precariously toward the road.  The P.I. climbed part-way up the tree, tied the rope and threw us the slack.   So there I was.  It was about 6:00pm.  I was standing in the woods holding a rope tied to a tree, still wearing the slacks, dress shirt and shoes from the interview and holding on for dear life as the P.I. sawed down a 40 foot tree.  Band-aids still firmly affixed to each cheek.  Thankfully, the tree came down without a hitch and we then went in and cleaned up and went out to dinner. At dinner, we met up with several of the folks that I had met on lab and I thanked the P.I. and his colleagues for being such great hosts and I again apologized for the horrible presentation.  Once again, nothing was said, just head nodding.  But I knew it was over.  The next morning, I headed back home.  When I stepped into my apartment I immediately went to the mirror and removed the band-aids from my face.  The redness and swelling had gone down considerably and I felt relieved.  And there is a tree lying in the woods in the Southwest that I helped fell.

  3. I once had to write pseudocode for a programming job and all the interviewer gave me was a bunch of pencils and left the room.  The pencils kept breaking, but I was able to finish with one pencil remaining.  I thought it was one of those secret “stress” tests.


  5. Back a few years plus ago, I had an interview for a Purchasing Assistant position.  Anyway, after the main part of the meeting, we left her office to join the others in the main office area.  The Purchasing Director motioned us to sit at these two office chairs in front of a desk and we finished our discussion.  I’m happy, I’m thinking everything looking good, and then it happens… I get up to shake hands goodbye and I fell flat on my face at her feet! Not a pretty sight. My heel was still lodged in the base of the swivel chair.  FYI, careful how you cross your ankles wearing heels, lol :)  PS  I did get the job BTW, perhaps it was how fast I jumped up and still looked her in the eye while I shook her hand.

  6. in 1997 i walked into a mech contractors office to interview for a receptionist position, i was there at 7am on the dot, when i arrived the girl at the phones said are you here for the phone position, i said yes, she said well come on over, i went over to the phones she plopped me down in the seat the phone rang, she said pick it up and say good morning chadwick company, i did as i was told, she then showed me how to transfer the call, she showed me a couple of little things, such as how to take a message, how to put a call into voice mail, what to do if more than one call came thru, and so on and so forth, she then asked me if i had any questions, i said no (the entire time i was thinking to myself, wow this is a very hands on/intense interview!!) she then said ok if you need me my name is tiffany call me  at ext 252… and with that she walked away! 
    at 7:35am a women by the name of tille came into the building, i said to her good morning how may i help you, she said yes are you christine, i replied yes i am, she said i am sorry i am late, i am ready to interview you now, i said tillie i have already been  answering the phones since 7am, i have everything under control, no need to interview me, ill take the jobt!
    it is going on 16 years now, i am still with the same company, i started out as the girl who answered the phones and i now work for the president/owner of a multi million dollar mech contractor.
    it turns out, the day i showed up for the interview, the girl answering the phones thought i was the temp coming to fill in, it was my lucky day, the temp never showed up, and i aced my hands on interview with flying colors! :)

  7. Obtaining a job as a Customer service representative for a Veternary Hospital seems simple enough I thought to myself as pulled into the parking lot at 5:30pm for the interview. I mean animal lovers as customers , cute little dogs & kittys in need of love and help how bad can it get?
    As I am sitting there in my car preparing I very shortly realize that dreaded feeling ” Oh No! one by one I am seeing people getting out of their cars dressed professionally. ” Yep, the dreaded “group interviews” Hate them! Oh well, I was already there, mind as well go in. Upon entering we were all herded into one room where there seemed to be 5-6 staff observing us.
    After a brief introduction from the main spokes person, we were given a piece of paper & told to answer the following questions. The questions touch base on some of what the spokesperson talked about. basically they wanted to know were you really listening? There were also some off the wall questions like “If you were a vegetable, which one would you be. We then sat in a circle & they posed questions & each one of us had to respond or not if we chose to. It became  an “out do you contest ” of people answering the questions but plugging in their expertise to secure it. It really was quite comical watching everyone  trying to out the previous persons comment. There was even one candidate that couldn’t make it to the interview and she was skyped in. No that was odd.
    I was thinking to myself…….Hey , you couldn’t make the time to come IN to the interview yo should be out of the running. But there we sat about 12 of us , each in a chair & then one chair left empty but a laptop with this girl sitting there on skpye doingher thing.
    Since I came direction after the current job I had, now at 6:45, my stomach was starting to growl a bit. They then had us tour the small animal hospital & ask questions. The ending of this was oddest part of the group  interview process. They broke us up into groups of 4 and sat us in different corners of the same room.They had 8 pieces of small colored paper , glue, 10 pipe cleaners, marshmellows, feathers, paperclips & tape. On their count, each group would have 15 minutes to build the biggest tower , at which point , when time was called, it had to stay erect for at least 20 seconds. They wanted to see us work as a team … who are the followers, who were the leaders etc etc.They had one of their staff stand by us as we built.. All I could think was ” What the hell, I mean really?”
    Of course my group would have one bossy girl who wanted to take charge I diud my best to stand my ground without being bowled over & our team eventually won. By the time I got out of there it was 8:45. Sometime between the weird questyions & the tower building contest I had made an determination I didn’t want the job, too funky of a vibe to work there. I did get a call for a 2nd interview with them, at which time I turned them down politely saying I had found another positon. Thought it would be easier to tell them that then tell them the truth.

  8. the most strangest interview I went on was when I applied for a bank job, so getting ready for the interview I have my long brown hair down with a head band on, tight pantyhose w/a hideous skirt and  I wore a suit jacket but not a suit it was one of those bulky kind of salesman type jackets where it doesnt fit you properly because it is 2x your size but it looks professional so you wear it anyways.  So I go to the bank and I guess it was not a bank teller job but a job for I guess deposting & accounting because they *meaning two people” came to get me and we had to walk down stairs, go thru a couple hallways and we enter this little tiny room…okay so Im 19 at the time Im not that easy going im really shy so I dont ask any questions I just sit down at this fold out table in this little room that had no pictures with these two crazy ladies…I will tell you what I mean by crazy…so there we are in a bare room, and its fold out table with three chairs I sit in the middle chair! I dont know why! So then both ladies sit on either side of me..very close… so I am sandwhiched in…and then they start asking me questions and I have no idea who to look at when Im talking because I have them both side by side of me! so I am in this bulky jacket and tight pantyhose and im sweating because there is no windows or ventilation in this room..and it is very awkward them sitting so close to me… so they start telling me what the job entails…so the one on the left says to me “well if you work here we dont allow jackets in this room” and then she stares at my jacket! with the other one on the right just nodding her head at me. so I said “oh okay I normally dont wear jackets” the one on the right jumps in and says “well if you work here we dont allow our hair down, it always has to be up” then she stares at my hair! with the other one on the left just nodding her head too!! This interview was so strange and  Needless to say these ladies didnt like  my outfit or anything I had to say so NO I did not get the job. LOL  :)

  9. I was invited to interview for a teaching position at a high school in Manhattan. Though I arrived early, they were running late. They brought ought a preschool-sized chair and asked me to wait. Rather than recreate a scene from GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, I chose to stand. When I finally entered, twenty minutes after my appointed time, I was accosted by the head of the Search Committee as if their lateness was caused by me. “We’re running late,” she said, “so we’re going to time you. You have five minutes. GO!” With that, I was sat in the center of a circle of educators and peppered with questions as the stop-watch ticked away. When I was finished, I actually had thirty seconds left. Fully convinced that I did not want this job, I turned to them and asked, ‘Do I get a prize for finishing early?”. And with that, I stood, turned on my heels and left.

    c. Tell us about a time when you took a job that no one thought you could do. @AnthonyBalderrama
    My career opportunities have always been disguised as “Driss” moments, but, surprisingly I always walk into an amazing opportunity!
    Back in 1999, I had just been laid off from a paralegal position, and, was a single parent of two children, trying to find my next position. In my Maryland community, I was known to be the “go to” person for community news and any resource information. However, I was discouraged trying to find a new and challenging job. Enter -Bill. Bill, a youth basketball coach for a local sports club, called and asked if I had any knowledge of an upcoming basketball franchise coming to Baltimore, MD. Though I had no knowledge, he asked if I would make a call and find out about try-out dates and times. Well, in contacting the league office, I actually lucked up and spoke with the PR Director for the Baltimore BayRunners. It seems this was to be the inaugural season for the Baltimore BayRunners Basketball team, which was a franchise under the International Basketball League.
    While getting the try-out information for Bill, the PR Director, mid-sentence, asked me what I did for a living. I then explained my plight of a lay-off and she stated that the position of Assistant to the Director of Operations was needed. She then immediately asked if I could come to the Baltimore Arena and interview.
    When I arrived to the interview, I met for 30 minutes or less with the PR Director and the Director of Basketball Operations. Still in amazement and shock, in the middle of the position overview for Assistant to the Director of Operations, I was informed I got this coveted, once-in-a-lifetime sports job! I literally went home and almost fainted!!!
    Fast-forward–I was hired in August 1999, and, we were “off and running”, for as the Inaugural season was approaching, I assisted the Director in the hiring and game-day coordination process, wherein we interviewed and hired interns, bellboys, cheerleaders, other basketball players, former NBA coaches, sports trainers, etc… It was sooooooo exciting; I was meeting everyone from Ralph Sampson to Bernie Bickerstaff….. Then, as the first game was to be held in October 1999, the Director had a “fall-out” with the General Manager, and, literally left!!! I was then summoned to an IBL meeting with the league officials and General Manager, who asked if I would be able to assume the duties as Director of Game Operations for the WHOLE season??? To which I replied –”OF COURSE”:-)))))))
    Needless to say, when I left that meeting, and returned to my new office, I almost passed out!!!! Talk about KISMET!!! Can you imagine going from an obscure position to one where I had to interact with famous NBA coaches and players. I was responsible for creating the half-time shows, supervising interns, choosing team wear and logos, hosting opposing teams, and, I even had to interview and choose the “anthem singers”…Oh, BTW –once when my anthem singer didn’t show up, I had to go out and sing myself, in front of thousands (you should have seen the league officials and teams’ faces –they didn’t know I could sing:-)
    This just proved that you have to be ready for wherever life takes you! I know many thought –how in the world can she pull THIS off…but I made it through a 32 game season and not only proved it to others, but to myself! My son, a ball-boy on the team, thought I was the greatest mother with a sweet job!
    PS—That was more than 15 minutes of fame:-)

  11. Just one year ago I was interviewing for the job I now hold.  Everything went very well but I was the first person they had interviewed so I was hopeful but had to wait for them to finish the process.  They did request my referrals and that is where the funny side of the story begins.  I have always worked with professional and dedicated people but they have always had some devious senses of humor.  The Vice President from a previous job gets the call from my current Vice President and they go through the usual Q&A.  Would you hire her back?  Why did she leave? etc. etc.  All of this has been discussed during a follow up call with my former VP.  Then he lays out the bomb shell!  He asks the new VP after he’s done with his questions… so tell me… how does she look?  Because I know she always took pride in her appearance and I haven’t seen her in awhile.  *serious pause in the conversation*  I don’t even remember what the response was because at this point I said “you asked him what?!”  He repeated it and said “everyone’s too serious I had to break it up some how”.  
    At least I got the job! 

  12. b. What was the most fun/strangest/most unusual interview experience you ever had?
    I participated in a group interview for a fundraising job last year. After filling out a paper application, the interviewer took the three of us out onto Michigan Avenue in Chicago, handed us each a clipboard, and told us to get as many people’s names and shoe sizes as possible. I was definitely not prepared for that! Not to mention trying to snag the power walkers during rush hour in Chicago…not an easy task! Some don’t even bother to say no—they’ll just put a hand up in your face to silence you and keep walking without even looking. My last “subject” was the best, though. When I asked, he offered his name, and asked for mine. I told him. Then I asked his shoe size. Without missing a beat, he asked “What’s your phone number?” Never did get his shoe size…(I didn’t give my number out—sorry, random fellow, but newly married!).
    Definitely the oddest experience I’ve ever had!

  13. B. What was the most fun/strangest/most unusual interview experience you ever had?
    I was interviewing for a position as an human resources assistant at a wine company and I’ve probably gone on 13 interviews by this point so I know they are going to ask what’s your greatest weakness and strength so I have those covered. But then the human resources manager says what sports did you play in school? (never have I ever had this as a question) So I said I swam and played water polo. He says “water polo” (I don’t know if everyone knows about this sport so I say it’s kind of a cross between soccer and basketball only in the water and its kind of like a duck on the surface of the water they are calm but underneath the water they are moving a mile a minute. Then he made a few jokes and they were pretty funny like he said did you notice that our winery and another one they own have a cemetery right next door, I said now that you point it out how weird and he says its our retirement plan. I thought this was really Funny although some people might not appreciate it. I don’t know but I walked out of that interview reallly wanting the job.

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