Interview mixup stress
December 4, 2017 12:22 PM   Subscribe

I missed an important Skype interview because of a time zone mixup and I’m beating myself up. Hearing examples of people who have made interview mistakes (especially if things turned out okay) would help me take some perspective here.

I’m interviewing for faculty jobs and am flying from the west coast to the east coast for a campus visit today. The dean was going to be out of town during my visit so had his admin schedule a Skype interview. She sent me 2 emails specifying 10am as the interview time, which made sense because i asked to be done at least 2 hours before my 1pm flight, and it didn’t occur to me to check which time zone she meant (usually I would do this, and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it this time). I got to my office at 8am to set up and saw that he had sent a series of Skype messages asking where i was at 7am. So she meant 10am eastern/7am pacific. I feel like a total idiot for not thinking to ask and am so embarrassed! I called and emailed her, and responded to his Skype messages, but haven’t heard back. In general I’ve been really overwhelmed and burnt out lately, and it’s making it hard to perspective-take on this. It’s also hard to think about going to a day and a half of nonstop interviews when I’ve already made such a sloppy mistake. I would really appreciate any examples of other people making mistakes that could affect whether you get a job!
posted by deus ex machina to Work & Money (23 answers total)
 
I don't have any pertinent examples, but as someone who's done a lot of interviews on both sides of the table I think this is almost entirely the admin's mistake, not yours. It's totally reasonable to assume a scheduler intends times in your local time. Especially because 7am Pacific is pretty early! Lots of academic types aren't even awake at that ungodly hour.
posted by potrzebie at 12:32 PM on December 4, 2017 [12 favorites]


I threw up at least four times during an interview for my dream job earlier this year. I'd write more but I have to get ready for work ... at my dream job.
posted by Thella at 12:33 PM on December 4, 2017 [18 favorites]


I do this once a month on average, a combination of not really paying attention to timezones and being able to work out 24 hour clock in my head (a personal weakness). Don't sweat it, people are usually understanding.
posted by gadha at 12:34 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


Echoing exactly what potrzebie said, and - my Skype story - we did a Skype interview with someone who had set up their account with a ridiculous photograph of themselves doing jazz-hands and making a silly face. We spent the entire interview staring at that photo. They have now been in our employ for 5 years.
posted by pammeke at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2017 [7 favorites]


I agree that the admin should have specified. When I was an admin I would routinely schedule these calls and always had to specify both time zones. If anything, she's probably the one getting in trouble over this.
posted by winterportage at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I often schedule things across times zones and I always, always, include a time zone signifier like EST. Plus I send an actual calendar invite since those automatically put things on calendars while take time zone into account. And still, sometimes people miss things - even important things - because of time zone confusion. I understand how awful this must feel, but, honestly, it's not not your fault. The admin made a mistake on this one. If you haven't already touched base with her, I would do so as soon as you can, as she's in the best position to smooth it out.

I don't have any spectacularly good interview mistakes of my own (just the normal foot-in-mouth stuff...including casually swearing when I got a little too comfortable once), but due to an internal mixup recently, someone else with the same name as my colleague did the interview he was supposed to do - without realizing until afterwards, somehow. I can't imagine what the candidate must have thought.
posted by mosst at 12:51 PM on December 4, 2017


I am a hiring manager. I am not your hiring manager. I do the admin job and always specify the time zone. Silly things happen. Usually on-site visit impressions trump one call anyway; they'll fill in the Dean and reschedule the call. Concentrate on the site visit that's ahead of you.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:53 PM on December 4, 2017


I once slept through a phone interview when I was on the west coast - just an alarm futz-up. I woke up completely panicked, sent an email with a white lie excuse for why something had "come up unexpectedly", and I'm working in that job now. It truly, truly was not a big deal.

Yours is even more understandable, if they didn't specify the time zone! Good hiring managers understand that things happen and people get nervous, and are unlikely to scratch you as a candidate for one weird thing. It sounds like this happened earlier today? I am almost certain you'll hear back soon for rescheduling.
posted by superfluousm at 1:23 PM on December 4, 2017


I made the mistake of assuming the hiring committee would be calling me rather than vice versa. Both sides twiddled our thumbs for 10 minutes and they eventually called me (I hadn't even noted a number to call). I thought that was that, but I'm working there now.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 1:34 PM on December 4, 2017


This is less of a Skype story but a major-screw-up story: a friend of mine double booked an interview slot at an academic conference and just completely didn't' realize it until he got an e-mail from the one he'd inadvertently skipped (which was in many ways a dream job, especially location-wise). He apologized, figured out an alternative time on short notice, and eventually was hired by 'em.

It'll be okay.
posted by dismas at 1:47 PM on December 4, 2017


You can absolutely come back from this!
I once missed my flight the night before an early morning interview, thus making it entirely impossible to show up for the scheduled interview.
We rescheduled for a few weeks later when I'd be in that city again and I got the job; some time later the hiring manager said that she liked the fact that I didn't over-apologize. I just left a voicemail saying "I had an issue with my flight and won't be able to make our interview tomorrow morning. I apologize for the inconvenience, and hope you receive this message before our meeting time. When's the best time to regroup? Here is my availability [narrow window of choices]."
posted by dotparker at 1:59 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


You'll be OK, it happens. I mixed up my days for on-site interviews and didn't realize until I got several emails and calls from the concerned recruiter wanting to know where I was. I apologized profusely, we rescheduled, and I got the job.
posted by saturngirl at 2:04 PM on December 4, 2017


I missed an interview for a research gig a couple months ago. I felt a lot of burning shame at first (I just slept through the interview!). But I’m human and I make mistakes. I got over the shame and kept applying and interviewing at other places—here I am, two months later with a wonderful offer from somewhere else. :) Keep going!
posted by flying_trapeze at 2:17 PM on December 4, 2017


I ran out of minutes on my phone when I was interviewing for a job and dropped the call on the recruiter a couple of times. I now have a phone with unlimited minutes, paid for by said job.

Logistics are hard -- I'm sure it's a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things.
posted by batter_my_heart at 2:36 PM on December 4, 2017


This has happened to me a lot in my life. I wouldn't freak out because it was an honest mistake. You explained it, which is the best you can do. They couldn't actually think you wanted to do a job interview at 7am, you know? A little common sense on their part would've gone a long way.

One time I missed a live radio interview with the BBC, my first one with them, because I thought they meant PM and they meant AM. They don't use PM and AM, so why would they have said that? But it was so early in the AM, I just assumed they meant PM. I was mortified but they said it's something that does happen from time to time, no big deal. They invited me back for other shows so it didn't damage anything -- although we are always extra careful about the time now!

Otherwise, when I lived on the east coast, I feel like this was never an issue because the world is used to ET. But in PT, scheduling things is just harder -- people constantly want to schedule things when I am still asleep. But now I always go out of my way to clarify/explain, or in my confirmation email, I will say, "Ok, I will wait for your call at 11am PT/2pm ET." That means, even if they told me 2pm ET, I will respond clarifying the time zone conversion just so the bases are covered. Basically, aim to have both time zones mentioned in every scheduling item.

So... don't sweat it too much. It happens. It's common. Maybe you screwed up, but they screwed up here too.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:51 PM on December 4, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've been on the other side of this (well, I'm not a dean, but I'm in academia and do skype interviews). It honestly wasn't even a thing I remembered beyond that day -- they are probably just as busy as you are and have an even poorer memory so won't even note it at all! Especially if it had been my admin (or me) who didn't specify the time zone, I wouldn't think at all poorly about you.

On the larger issue of burnout: hugs to you. It seems to be endemic in academia this time of year, especially if you're on the job market. Good luck and I hope you've scheduled a few sanity days off coming soon. It's well worth making the time.
posted by forza at 2:57 PM on December 4, 2017


It happens. They knew your time zone, and should have clarified which one because they have far more experience coordinating interviews than you have at taking them. As someone who worked in journalism, I always used to tell people what time I would call -- on their time zone (and specifying that it was their time zone; so they would never have to do the math). If I had a lot going, I would update my voice mail, saying I would not be available from this time to this time -- according to my time zone. I was a well-oiled machine.

They set up the interview, it is on them to tell the interviewee what time zone it is. That's part of scheduling. If I could do it for people I approached as a journalist; so could they.

Now, if they are taking it against you, that is a sign that is not the kind of place you want to work. No one likes to be put off, but it could very well be a blessing in disguise.

Good luck to you.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:12 PM on December 4, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was late for an interview because I didn't realize that the departmental portion of the interview was not in the same place as the HR component (which took place on a different day) and it took a bit of time to shuttle over. I called as soon as I realized I'd be late, they directed me how to get where I needed to go, and the rest of the interviews went well. I've now been working there for 6 months.

It will be okay.
posted by smangosbubbles at 9:29 PM on December 4, 2017


For the first two jobs I ever had, I was late to the interviews.

Deep breaths!
posted by wintersweet at 9:31 PM on December 4, 2017


I once had a series of interviews in a day, my interviewer was late for the first and never apologised, I was late for the second interview because traffic and getting lost in unfamiliar to me city and I was offered both jobs.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:41 PM on December 4, 2017


I did a phone interview a few years ago... Several hours after concluding a five day train trip across Siberia. Due to a time zone mixup they called an hour earlier than expected so I was initially a little flustered. Things went okay in the end although I didn't get the job.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 11:26 PM on December 4, 2017


I was 20 minutes late to a job interview at a college because I was given driving directions rather than bus directions and mistakenly ended up on the campus instead of the administration building, which were apparently two completely different things. I had to get a security escort to take me over to the right place, and I was pretty mad at myself for not thinking to ask for the actual physical address and just assuming everything was in the same place. I had to REALLY focus on trying to get un-flustered.

But once I got there, the interview must have gone pretty well, because I did eventually get the job. I just celebrated my five year work anniversary last month.

I think the "don't be late to an interview" rule is a good thing to try to adhere to for politeness' sake, but ultimately, life happens, and most reasonable interviewers know this. If you're the person they're looking for, they'll forgive a reasonable misunderstanding like this; if you're not, it wouldn't matter if you showed up exactly on time anyway. (And if they're not a reasonable interviewer and are going to be awful about this, then you probably don't want to work there anyway. Because yeesh.)

Good luck!!
posted by helloimjennsco at 6:26 AM on December 5, 2017


I'm an admin who has scheduled plenty of conference calls across many time zones. I'm the one who irons out the fiddly details of who is calling whom, what number to use, is it cell or Skype, etc. etc.. That is the admin's job, and were I your admin contact, I would be apologizing to YOU for having sent emails that totally ignored the call spanning two time zones. And yeah, you could have thought to confirm that detail, but the admin should have made that work on your part unnecessary. Mistakes happen! They're part of life. Anyone who thinks otherwise would be a terrible boss.
posted by missmary6 at 6:46 PM on December 5, 2017


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