Classic Clip: When You're The Wrong Guest On Live Television
What should you do when you show up for a job interview at a network, get confused for an expert who was booked as a television guest, and get thrust without warning onto the set for a live on-camera interview?
That’s the exact question that faced a job applicant named Guy Goma 10 years ago this month. And his answer was to proceed with the interview as if he was the actual guest.
Goma looked shocked at first when he realized he was a victim of mistaken identity (the screen shot below captures his panic rather well) — but he decided, rather quickly, to go for it. And you know what? He bluffed his way through a topic he knew little about rather impressively (think about that next time you’re watching some political pundit pontificating on cable television).
Here’s the story, via Gizmodo:
A fellow by the name of Guy Goma turned up at the BBC Television Centre in west London to interview for the role of data support cleanser. As he waited in the main reception, another chap called Guy — this time a tech expert with the surname Kewney — sat in another reception area, preparing for a live television interview on the subject of Apple’s legal battle with The Beatles’ record label, Apple Corps.
A couple of blunders later, a nonplussed Goma was pulled into the News 24 studio, sat in front of the cameras and quickly wired up with a microphone. Simply assuming that the BBC job interview process was really weird, Goma didn’t protest.
How Should You Handle A (Smaller) Case Of Mistaken Identity?
Minor versions of mistaken identity happen regularly.
For example, hosts frequently call a guest by the wrong name (“Tim” instead of “Jim”), fumble the name of the guest’s company or group, or mangle their job titles.
I usually advise people to let small errors go. Oftentimes, the chyron at the bottom of the screen has the correct information anyway—and guests who seek to clarify small points can sometimes come off as peevish.
But there are times that warrant making an instant correction. An incorrectly stated title or organization name, if consequential, should be noted; a Republican member of Congress misidentified as a Democrat should note the error, as should a pro-nuclear energy group confused with one protesting the use of that energy source.
A graceful, “Jim, just to be clear, our group is for the use of nuclear energy” will do, followed immediately by the response to Jim’s question.
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Did Goma get the job?
According to an interview he gave shortly after this incident, unfortunately, no.
The clip of Goma being interviewed is priceless. It had me laughing only because, deep down, can’t we all relate at least in some small way to being in Goma’s shoes?
Perhaps he didn’t get hired because if he did, he would be a constant reminder of this incident around the office. For being an applicant on a job interview, he was splendid.
Thanks Brad – what a priceless clip.
Never mind the data support position – I think they should have offered him an on-screen role. He handled it so well despite no advance notice and no chance to prepare for the question!
What an amazing story. I can’t get over how beautifully Guy maintained his composure after it dawned on him that he was suddenly on live TV. I love how he reinterpreted the host’s question about being “surprised.”
I just discovered your awesome site Brad, and I plan to recommend it–and your book!–as a resource for my publicity clients.
Yes, wasn’t Guy game for the unexpected? And thank you for your kind comments. It’s nice to be connected with you!