How to Flunk an Interview and Drive your Career Services Advisor Crazy

Want to drive a Career Services professional crazy? Just register for workshops – and then don’t show up. This is easily the most frequent complaint at any industry gathering. Many of my peers see “no-shows” as exhibiting a lack of respect or entitlement. But I see it in a different way – I see it as a sign of impending interview failure.

You might be scratching your head right about now, wondering what the heck blowing off a workshop has to do with failing an interview. The way I see it, both depend heavily on preparation and contingency planning; if your process fails for workshops, it’s very likely to fail for interviews too. Not showing up for an interview is an express ticket to failure. No amount of apologizing can overcome it.

Our set up at Bentley University is pretty standard – all workshops, career fairs, and job postings are listed in a central online source. Students can choose the workshop they wish to attend and register with just a couple of clicks. Students receive automated reminders of events for which they have registered. The process for requesting an interview is identical.

Now here’s where contingency planning comes in. Let’s imagine that the morning you were scheduled to attend a workshop, you woke up with the flu. You have a few choices to make – one is to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed. Another is to e-mail Career Services and/or your workshop instructor and let them know you won’t be there. Yet another is to go online and cancel your registration. It seems most students choose option number one.

I recently polled Boston-area students who admitted to not letting their Career Services office know when they were unable to attend a workshop. I was astonished at their responses! Here’s what they said:

  • “I didn’t know your e-mail address”  (Most university websites have a staff directory)
  • “I don’t know the phone number for the Career Services office” (Usually available on the university website)
  • “I don’t know your phone number” (Same as above)

I admit, I’m annoyed when people blow off my workshops; but I am far more troubled by  their being no-shows at an interview. Imagine the same scenario – the day of an important interview, you wake up with the flu; I asked students what they would do. Did they know the main campus phone number, did they know that they could speak a department or individual’s name and be immediately connected, or did they know most university Career Services are available on Twitter and Facebook? The answer to all of these questions was no. The students didn’t have a contingency plan for missing a workshop or a critical interview.

So here are my recommendations: store the main campus number of your college on your smart phone, store the main number for Career Services as well as their general e-mail, and store the e-mail and phone number of your Career Services advisor and one other team member (consider this a contingency plan for the contingency plan!). If your interview confirmation included a contact name, e-mail, and phone number – be sure to store all of those as well.

And by the way, don’t blow off one of my workshops – that makes me really cranky!


Marilyn is the Assistant Director of Graduate and Alumni Career Services at Bentley University. She brings an uncanny ability quickly discern strengths and differentiators and turn this knowledge into strategic career plans. She is passionate about equipping graduate students and alumni with cutting edge skills. Marilyn has a great deal of corporate experience, primarily in the technology, biotech and healthcare industries. She is a long-time user of social media (she was mentioned in Fast Company’s “Most Influential People Online 2010”). She holds degrees in Psychology and Public Administration from The Florida State University. Marilyn immigrated from Cuba as a child and is bilingual. She is active in Boston’s Hispanic business community.

Related posts:

  1. Four Services Your School’s Career Center (Probably) Offers
  2. The Essential Interview Check List: 9 Steps To Ensure You’re Prepared
  3. Interesting Interview Questions from a Real COO

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