Five iconic job interviews from your favorite shows

May 24, 2022

7 mins

Five iconic job interviews from your favorite shows
Aurélie Cerffond

Journaliste @Welcome to the jungle

Sami Prieto

Journaliste chez Welcome to the Jungle

Gabrielle Predko

Journaliste - Welcome to the Jungle

Romane Ganneval

Journaliste - Welcome to the Jungle

You’ve probably binged-watched the adventures of the characters from Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Sex & the City, The Big Bang Theory, or maybe even Seinfeld. Well so have we! At some point in their fictional lives, these characters have gone on job interviews, just like regular people. But, unlike a regular person, they don’t bother taking the time to learn about the job they’re applying for, or even the company they’re applying to, and yet somehow they always manage to get away with it. What if they’re onto something? To find out if they are, we took a look at five characters from the small screen to see how they fared. Spoilers: incoming!

Joey in Friends: the one who lied on his résumé


It’s super hard to break into the entertainment business, and it’s not the (mostly failed) actor Joey from Friends who’s going to prove this otherwise. Over the course of several episodes, he goes from one audition to another, trying to snag all sorts of gigs, some as wild as being the spokesperson in an advertisement for STIs, to being Al Pacino’s butt double, or even a photocopier repairman in a porno. In the professional rat race, what could be more human than embellishing your résumé to increase your chances? Besides, if everyone were being totally honest, who out there has truly never stretched the truth just a bit? Really, who (apart from graphic designers) has actually mastered how to use the Adobe suite?

While no one can blame him for adding a couple of extra skills to spice up his application, you have to wonder nonetheless about how worthwhile that is, especially in the episode where he auditions for a role … that’s in French. And then, despite the numerous attempts by his faithful friend Phoebe to teach him the basics of the language of love, he tries and misses, unable to pronounce a single word correctly. All this culminates in an epic audition where he ends up failing spectacularly.

Moral of the story: embellishing your résumé to better your chances with the recruiter, sure. But lying shamelessly about your background to get a job, that’s a big no!

Carrie in Sex and the City: the one who couldn’t handle criticism


When the New Yorker, sporting her Manolo Blahniks and pink tutu, has her first interview for a freelance job at Vogue, she stumbles: the editor-in-chief thought that her first article wasn’t “Vogue enough”. To cheer her up, another magazine-executive suggests she get drunk on dry martinis with him. That sounds nice! Throughout the episode, Carrie starts to develop a sort of mentor-like relationship with the man, who continues to flatter her. Unfortunately, it ends in disappointment when she realizes that he really only wants to sleep with her.

She then decides to reconnect with the editor-in-chief, after learning a little lesson in humility, but who at least didn’t wait for her half-naked in a Vogue showroom in an attempt to seduce her. While it’s not at all clear that Carrie actually learned anything from this episode (because she is adorably narcissistic, after all), she was actually in the wrong the whole time. Okay, the editor seems as friendly as a prison guard, but she was totally justified in her feeling of dissatisfaction: Carrie had neither followed the brief she had been given nor adapted her piece’s tone for Vogue. It all checks out!

Moral of the story: Having confidence in yourself and your skills is a great thing, but in a job interview, or at the beginning of any new professional relationship, you should remain humble and accept constructive criticism: you can always learn something from others people.

Marshall in How I Met Your Mother: the one who was easily corruptible


In How I Met Your Mother, Marshall is a committed lawyer who’s passionate about the environment and looking for meaning in his work. But when he starts his journey into the professional world, he is faced with a dilemma: should he accept a generous salary or stay true to his principles? When he is faced with an offer from the company of his dreams that pays a pittance and another from a large firm with morally questionable projects, he doesn’t know what to do. Especially since the multinational firm pulls out all the stops to lure the young lawyer in with luxurious dinners, a tempting salary, and a bonus trip to an amusement park.

How could Marshall say no when he and his wife are deeply in debt and hoping to start a family one day? Spoiler alert: Marshall ends up taking the job with the higher salary. But luckily for him, he ends up getting hired at an environment-focused company later in the series. Phew.

Moral of the story: what would you do in this situation? Rest assured, if you opted for the money like he did, no one could blame you. As long as you know why you’re making that choice and you don’t end up totally compromising your values, you should trust yourself! On the other hand, don’t forget that a big salary and lots of perks won’t automatically make you happy …

Penny in The Big Bang Theory: the one who befriended the recruiter


After trying to break into acting and then settling for a waitressing job in season 7, Penny is on the hunt for new career opportunities. She’s not the only one who wants something different for herself. Her friend, Bernadette, who’s a researcher at a pharmaceutical company known for its iron fist, tries to set her up for a job as a drug salesperson and sets her up for an interview with her own boss. Penny is hesitant: she doesn’t really know the business and doesn’t think it’s very “cool”: “Why not sell comfortable tracksuits instead?”
For better or worse, the well-dressed young woman heads into the recruiter’s office.

The interview is over quickly. As is often the case, Penny is totally off the mark. A few minutes later, she apologizes for wasting his time and puts her coat back on as she heads for the exit. But just as she’s about to close the office door, she tells the recruiter that she couldn’t turn down the interview her friend had set up for her because she was afraid of her. That was all it took to create a special bond with him. He was scared to death of Bernadette, too. He was so afraid of her that he hadn’t been able to tell her for months now that he wants to give up on his research project. Penny can seriously sympathize and ends up getting hired!

Moral of the story: don’t forget that inside every boss, there is a fragile little beating heart. Also, a good personal connection can sometimes work in your favor when you don’t have all the skills required for a position!

George in Seinfeld: the one who let his inner thoughts slip


If remote work had become commonplace sooner, here’s somebody who would have thought it was the breakthrough of the century: George Costanza from Seinfeld. A big fan of putting in as little effort as possible, described as “a short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man” by his friends, or “the king of idiots” in a famous bit of self-deprecation, George was never afraid of lying to people about his job. Whether he said he was an architect or a marine biologist while out on dates, George Costanza was really just a lazy man who mastered the art of pretending to work. With a résumé like that, you can imagine that when it came to applying for a job, he was looking for a boss who wouldn’t see his true face. And fortunately for him, he had plenty of them.

After losing a job and spending several seasons looking for another, fate finally smiles on him in the episode where he decides to do the exact opposite of what his instincts tell him. George finally owns up to being a loser during an interview. And guess what? It pays off! He gets a job as the assistant to the secretary of the New York Yankees, with a stupid, hot-headed boss. Now that he’s reached the Holy Grail, he stays true to who he’s always been: he sets up a bed under his desk and doesn’t think twice about leaving his (broken-down) car in the parking lot to make it look like he’s a model employee. On top of his immaturity and cowardice, this character offers a sharp critique of a professional world with endless middle management positions where it’s often enough to put on a good game face to earn the favor of your superiors.

Moral of the story: if you don’t think outside the box, you’ll look like yet another boring candidate. To set yourself apart and finally get what you want (or deserve), don’t be afraid to say things that might anger your interviewer. Specifically, say out loud what others may keep to themselves behind their hypocritical smiles. Just be sure to do it with a minimum of tact and pass it off as a spontaneous attitude, something often lacking in the recruitment process.

[Big screen bonus] Andy in The Devil Wears Prada: the one who was totally unprepared


At Welcome to the Jungle, we’ve read and heard a lot of messed-up job interview stories, but Andy’s story from The Devil Wears Prada always makes the top three (no, we’re not exaggerating). The young graduate, looking for her first job as a journalist, lands a job interview as an assistant to Miranda Presley, head of the world’s largest fashion magazine, Runway. Andy, unafraid to show up to this temple of fashion in a granny sweater, admits that she had never even heard of her interviewer before then (who is a bit like the real-life Anna Wintour) and that she knows nothing about fashion.

She’s then embarrassed and proceeds to unpack her entire academic background without asking Miranda any questions and is surprised when she’s waved out of her office. In what world does such a poorly handled interview lead to a job?! Well, it’s Hollywood, so of course it’s fine: after giving a tearful and heartfelt speech, Andy is hired and will end up fighting to prove herself to her tyrannical boss. Personally, we still don’t quite get it. #TeamEmily

Moral of the story: Being unprepared didn’t stop Andy from getting the job, but that’s an exception to the rule! Unlike her, you have to take the time to prepare for these important interviews by doing at least a bit of research on the sector, the brand, and the person you’re meeting with. On the other hand, you should still be frank - which clearly saved the day here - and you shouldn’t forget that even if there’s still room for growth, showing that you have the will and desire to work can make all the difference!

Translated by Kalin Linsberg

Photo: Thomas Descamps

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