What we can learn from the most iconic TV show interviews

Feb 22, 2024

5 mins

What we can learn from the most iconic TV show interviews

Television is meant to be an escape from reality, but often it can be all too relatable when it comes to some of the most stressful, embarrassing, or nerve-wracking experiences in life. Job interviews are a universal experience, and no matter what you do for a living or what stage of your career they can be difficult at best and disastrous at worst.

Luckily, we have TV to show us that we’re not alone. From chaotic recruiters to lying about your qualifications, everyone can relate to a job interview gone wrong, and seeing some of our favorite characters deal with cringe-worthy interviews can make the real thing feel a little more light-hearted. So, let’s check out some of the most hilariously memorable TV job interviews and see what we can learn from them.

Morgan’s hidden talents


The scene: In this episode of The Mindy Project, Mindy (Mindy Kaling) is attempting to hire a new nurse at her practice. She goes through several interviews with somewhat unusual candidates, including one eccentric candidate, Morgan (Ike Barinholtz), who seems to fumble every question. After telling the doctors that he could take the job or leave it and that he was formerly incarcerated for grand theft auto, Mindy tells him that unfortunately, they “could never” hire him. However, moments later when Mindy ends up with a broken nose in an attempt to fire another nurse, Morgan comes to the rescue by calming her down and providing care, proving his excellent bedside manner and medical knowledge which lands him the job.

The takeaway: The takeaway from this interview may be more for recruiters than job hunters, but is true all the same: never judge a book by its cover. While this may sound cliche, it’s a cliche for a reason. Interviewing is a stressful experience sometimes you don’t manage to put your best foot forward. Nerves can get the best of you and not everyone can showcase their skills in an interview environment. If interviewing isn’t your strong suit, see if there is another way you can prove your ability to a recruiter. Maybe your time to shine will come during a skills test or a technical interview, or maybe you have a glowing reference to make up for a bit of social awkwardness in an interview. Either way, it’s important to remember first impressions aren’t everything.

Rachel’s awkward encounter


The scene: As a show following six twenty-somethings living in New York, Friends is bound to show a few characters going through a job interview. One of the most memorable is Rachel’s (Jennifer Anniston) interview at Ralph Lauren. After working at a coffee shop for years, she finally has the opportunity to interview for her dream job in fashion. After the first interview goes well, she is mortified when she accidentally kisses the recruiter on the cheek on the way out of his office. When she is offered a second interview, Chandler and Joey (Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc) convince her that the kiss is the reason she got called back. Thinking the worst, she accuses her potential employer of having bad intentions, only to realize the entire thing was a misunderstanding. When she’s given a third chance, she pleads her case and expresses her passion for the work, finally landing the job.

The takeaway: We’ve all been there at one time or another, and making an awkward blunder in an interview can seem like the end of the world. In reality, recruiters know that nerves can get the better of everyone and are probably more forgiving of embarrassing moments than you think. The important thing is to not let one moment derail your interview process, and to refocus on the task at hand: showing you skills and why you’re the right person for the job.

Pam’s disappointing duties


The scene: The Office lives up to its name by showing the daily realities of life in the workplace, disappointing interviews included. After working her way from receptionist to salesperson, Pam (Jenna Fischer) is interviewing for a new job as an office manager. Things seem to be going well until the end of the interview when she finds out that the job description doesn’t quite match the title. Although her duties would be mainly taking calls and getting coffee, she would be called an office manager because it’s “less demeaning.” Even though Pam needs a job to facilitate a move to Philadelphia to support her husband’s career, she can’t go back to being a receptionist again and declines the job.

The takeaway: This scene caused some tension for Pam in the series, which is very relatable when you find out that what seemed like a dream job isn’t actually what you’re looking for. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies to be liberal with job titles and descriptions when trying to recruit candidates, so it’s important to verify what the day-to-day of the role you’re applying for actually entails. It can be disappointing to find out you’ve been misled by a recruiter, but it’s better to find out sooner than later—and in the end, it’s better to turn down an offer than accept a job you’re not suited for.

Amy’s brush with nepotism


The scene: In Superstore, Amy (America Ferrera) has spent 15 years working at the same store when the position of manager finally opens up. She seems like a shoo-in for a promotion until she discovers that the district manager who hates her plans on giving the role to her own unqualified son. After initially being declined an interview, Amy pushes back when she finds out company policy states she has the right to interview. However, she soon realizes that getting the chance to interview won’t change anything, as the district manager doesn’t ask questions and watches a video on her phone while Amy describes why she’s qualified for the role.

The takeaway: While they usually aren’t this obvious, these kinds of situations are unfortunately not unheard of in the workplace. Known as “courtesy interviews,” these types of interviews can be very disheartening. A courtesy interview happens when a recruiter has no intention of hiring someone, but interviews them anyway out of some sense of obligation. Nepotism is often involved in these interviews, where other candidates are interviewed simply for show, or maybe the recruiter has a candidate in the final stage of recruitment and is simply looking for a backup in case of any last-minute issues. Either way, realizing you’re in a courtesy interview can be very frustrating.

While you may not know until you’re participating in one, there are some signs that can tip you off before you get your hopes up. First, there are the obvious signs where a recruiter seems disinterested in anything you have to say, merely reading through surface-level questions and moving on. A rude recruiter is a red flag, but there are other signs they may not be seriously considering you. For instance, if a recruiter is being overly friendly and casual, praising your responses and not asking you any hard questions, it may mean that they like your profile, but still don’t intend on hiring you. These kinds of interviews can be even more disappointing, because you can leave with the feeling that you just aced the interview, only to realize that the recruiter was simply feeling guilty for leading you on.

Photos: Welcome to the Jungle, Universal Television and 3 Arts Entertainment, Warner Bros Studio, NBCUniversal, Spitzer Holding Company

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