God, is there anything worse than a job interview? Our palms are sweaty, the runs in our stockings are showing, and all the preparation we did the week before goes straight out of our heads the minute we sit across from the interviewers. Still, nothing compares to the interview nightmares these Redditors experienced. Don’t believe us? See for yourself.
1. Candy Girl
The interviewer put candy bars on the table to open the interview. “Have a candy bar,” the lady said. “Do you want Hershey’s or Snickers?” I replied, “Neither, thanks.” But the lady was persistent. “Go ahead, pick one.” Once again, I told her I didn’t want any candy at the moment.
“Take one, Hershey’s or Snickers.” I sighed inside, then caved.
“Okay, I’ll take the Snickers.”
“No, I want the Snickers. You take the Hershey’s.”
2. Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You
I was interviewing for a job in Houston which is two and a half hours away from where I live. I drove down there for the first round of interviews and they said it went well, so they asked me to come in for a final interview. I drove there again on the day of and it seemed like it went well again. They said they’d let me know of their decision within the next day.
I waited for them to call, but they never did, so I emailed the manager to ask if a decision had been made. Nothing. I waited a couple more days, left a voicemail…nothing. Then, a couple of days later, I called the main number for the company and told the receptionist why I was calling. Her answer made my blood run cold. She was like, “Well, someone just started in that job yesterday.”
They ghosted me after I drove a total of 10 hours to interview twice. I’m still salty about that 11 years later.
3. Button Fly Pants
My personal favorite bad interview: I had been unemployed for a bit and I was desperate for a new gig. During my unemployment, I had gained a lot of weight living off of fast food, so my good “interview” pants didn’t fit me very well. I sat down in the interview chair, and as the person was walking around to their side of the desk, the worst happened.
…and the button of my pants popped off, did a one-hopper off of the desk, and plopped RIGHT into their coffee cup. It swished; there was no clink at all. For the entire interview, they were sipping their coffee and I was sitting there with my pants unbuttoned, waiting for the big reveal. I left before they got to the bottom of their coffee, but they HAD to have put two and two together at some point.
No, I didn’t get the job. This narrowly beats out the time I was given a glass of water at an interview which I proceeded to drop and soak both interviewers. At least that one wasn’t as PSYCHOLOGICALLY tense.
4. Center Stage
I was responding to a waitressing ad with open interviews in a new city. I dressed professionally, but when I showed up, there was a line of women there in club attire. I was quite confused. Anyway, I signed in and when my name was called, I was brought through the kitchen into an office, so I didn’t see the ” restaurant” part.
We got to talking and 25 minutes in…I realized that I was at a strip club. How? They gave me a tour. The minute I saw the poles, my heart dropped. I excused myself to the restroom and then I booked it. I have nothing against that job or anything; live your best life and go make that money. But the pole is not for me.
5. Do As I Say, Not As I Do
I applied for a job and the hiring manager called me when I was busy. Me: “Hey thanks for reaching out to me, I’m actually busy at the moment; can we set something up for early next week?” (It was a Friday afternoon when he called). Him: “How about later today?” Me: “I don’t have the time today, Monday would be much better.”
Him: “I can just do it now then, it won’t take very long.” Me: “Look, I am very glad you called, and I’m super interested in the position, but I’m doing a million things right now and my head isn’t in the best place to do an interview. I would really appreciate it if we could reschedule for next week.” Him: “You know what, if you’re not going to freaking do what I want you to do, then I don’t want you working here anyway.”
Dodged a bullet on that one.
6. None Of Your Business
The interviewer insisted on knowing why I left graduate school. The truth is, I left because my program advisor passed away in a car accident. The whole small department was thrown for a loop and no one seemed to know or care what was going to happen to me, so I just gave up…which, honestly, was fair.
Still, the jerk interviewer wouldn’t even accept my answer and kept digging into the gory details until I was almost in tears. But that wasn’t even the worst part—the interviewer had the audacity to say that I must have had feelings for my advisor. I couldn’t wait to get out of there, and in my haste to leave, I knocked some solutions off a cart on my way out.
I’d never been so humiliated in my life. After that, I was sure I’d never get a job in science.
7. Mystery Man
My interviewer came in about 30 minutes late and his first comment was, “You’re the best-dressed candidate we’ve had all day.” Um, I was in a polo shirt and khakis. This man was a well-groomed man in a button-down shirt and tie. When we got to the interview room, I expected this obviously senior and ranked guy to do the interview…but nope.
The interviewer turned out to be a guy in his early 20s who was donning a graphic T-shirt and a dyed purple mohawk. I was beyond confused, but whatever, I didn’t want to judge a book by its cover. The manager then proceeded to stay sitting as I shook his hand. He never motioned for me to sit, nor did he ask me for my resume. He just dove right into the questions.
I’m not a very formal guy, but even I was confused by all this. He asked me stuff like where I worked now, where I went to school—that kind of stuff. Then he got into the job-specific questions and started with: “What would you do if you knew an employee was stealing?” Obviously, I told him that I’d report that employee.
“Well, what if it was the cheapest item in the store? A 99¢ water bottle and they only did it once.” Again, I said that stealing wasn’t allowed and that even those 99¢ losses can add up. “Well, let’s say it’s your store. What do you do?” I told him that if it was my store and one of my employees felt the need to take water, I’d probably just buy it for them and tell them not to take it in the future.
“Well, what if you forgot your wallet? You forgot your wallet and you know your employee is behind on rent. Their last paycheck hasn’t gone through yet and they haven’t been paid. What do you do then?” At this point, I was just at a loss for words. What the heck was going on? Did he want me to say I’d just let someone do it or something like that?
I genuinely felt like I was being punked at this point. He noticed that I was kind of stuck, so he just moved on. “Alright. How about we test your sales pitches. Imagine someone comes in and wants four of the chairs you’re sitting in at $25 each. How would you sell them the chair I’m sitting in for $100 each?” Again, I was at a complete loss for words.
What could I possibly say to that? If someone came in wanting one kind of chair that was obviously a cheaper option, how the heck was I supposed to convince them to pay 400% more for a different chair that was not obviously better in any way? I don’t even remember what I said, but there’s no way in heck it was coherent.
After this, the guy ended the interview without ever having seen my resume. He addressed me by the wrong name, then sent me on my way.
8. Oopsie Daisy
I had an interview that went relatively well. I was even offered the job on the spot and I accepted. The HR manager went to get the needed paperwork, then came back 10 minutes later and said, “I must have forgotten—we already filled this position. I’m sorry, but we don’t have an opening. I could call you if something opens back up.” I said no thank you.
9. It’s Called Networking, Look It Up
I was the one hiring. We had to dramatically underpay the salespeople during this round of interviews, so our choices were horrible, but none were worse than this one creepy guy. He walked into the conference room, and right away I knew he was sketchy. I should have ended the interview right when I saw him: he was wearing an ill-fitting suit, his hair was slicked back, and he just looked shady in general.
Still, I didn’t want to judge a book by the cover, so I gave him a chance. I asked the first couple of questions; you know, tell me about yourself, that kind of stuff. And that was the moment when I asked him to leave. I said, “So tell me why you want to work in sales.” He goes, “Well, I’m new in town, so I think this will be a great way to get to meet people…especially women.”
When he said “especially women,” he winked at me. I get the creeps just thinking about it.
10. Friends With Benefits
I was sitting in the waiting room with two other interviewees. The manager conducting the interview came out and recognized one of them as her friend. While they were greeting each other, I looked at the other interviewee and mentioned to her, “We have no chance.”
11. Time Is Money
I left work during lunch to interview because they flat-out refused to interview me at a time I was not at work (even though I told them I had the occasional weekday off). There was also a convoluted process for “validating my parking,” which I did. I showed up a bit early and waited about 40 minutes for someone who I was told was definitely in.
Apparently, she was just eating lunch or something because on my way back to work, I got a call from her asking where I was. She tried to reschedule. It was stressful enough the first time, so I figured I didn’t even want to give her a second chance. I’m not going to jump through hoops if you don’t value me as a prospect enough to keep your own darn appointment.
12. Ain’t No Valley Low Enough
It was going to be my first real job after college. I had planned for it—I bought new clothes, developed answers to questions I thought they’d ask, all that jazz. On the day of the interview, however, everything went downhill at lightspeed. I got super sick. I called and asked if we could reschedule. They said the slots were full and that if I wanted the job, I needed to come down and do the interview.
Well, I went down, because you know, I was in need of a job. I was sweating through my shirt because of my fever. I nearly threw up just waiting to be called. Finally, I got called in. I got weird looks from the other interviewees. I sat across the table from my interviewer who was a very pretty lady. She smiled, but it was forced. I saw her look me over with disgust.
We proceeded with the interview. I was still a gross mess, and halfway through, I felt the bile rise, with saliva filling my mouth. I thought to myself, if I puke, I won’t get the job, so I forced it down. I literally swallowed what came up. But I also burped, and that one could not be stopped. It smelled like vomit. She looked even more disgusted. She asked me why I didn’t reschedule the interview.
I told her I was sorry and that I tried to reschedule. She thanked me for coming in and asked me to leave. I still got the job.
13. Do What You Love
It was a video chat interview. Red flag #1 was that it ended up being a group interview with 10 interviewers, even though I was told it would just be one-on-one. Red flag #2 was that towards the end, they asked if I had any questions. When I asked: “Do you all enjoy working here?” they all looked at each other nervously for about 20 seconds until someone said: “Sure. I mean, as much as you can enjoy work, I guess.” Nope.
14. Learning Curve
I applied to a government branch as a network administrator. The newspaper ad asked for a bachelor’s degree. They called me into the interview. When I got there, the first thing the interviewer said was, “We actually wanted someone with a master’s degree. Why did you apply?” Now, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.
Maybe they had other interviews that day and they got them mixed up. Stuff happens. So I just informed the interviewer that the ad I applied for requested a bachelor’s degree, and I confirmed the position I was interviewing for. “No, we definitely wanted someone with a master’s degree. So, again, why did you apply?” “If you wanted someone with a master’s degree, why did you bother calling me in for an interview?”
“You’re very rude and unprofessional.” Yeah, you messed up at every junction, but I’m the one who’s rude and unprofessional.
15. Not In The Job Description
I went in to apply for an administrative assistant position. The guy kept asking me questions about how well I am with kids and if my passports are up to date. I was SO confused. Then, it all made sense. Turns out, what he really wanted was a nanny for his two young kids to travel with him and his wife back to India. I was so angry he wasted my time. I noped the heck out of there.
This interview started as the worst and ended as the best. The beginning started like this: “I’m so sorry to have to inform you of this, but we pulled the wrong résumé contact information. We didn’t mean to call you in for an interview.” But before I left, the interviewer gave me a brief tour of the company grounds because they felt so bad for wasting my time.
They introduced me to the department head that I would have been working for if that department was actually hiring. I had a great conversation with the department head and he was convinced that I would be a great asset to them, so they hired me on the spot anyway. I have been with this company for over eight years now, and they are an awesome bunch of people. It was a very unlucky, lucky day for me!
17. Tough Critics
I applied for an internship at a human rights law office. They gave me questions on the spot to debate with them; stuff like: “Should people accused of assault remain anonymous until convicted?” and “Are certain felonies acceptable if they’re for a good cause?” It was me versus a panel of five senior human rights lawyers for a whole hour.
Basically, they just ripped me apart from start to finish. Everything I said, they made it sound like the dumbest response with their rebuttals. By the end, I was a nervous babbling wreck. I did not get the internship, but I did appreciate the experience when I walked out the door. I was ready to move on, but then I got the most devastating email from them.
They told me: “Your resume was fantastic, so we were quite disappointed with how poor your interview was.” Burn.
18. Thanks But No Thanks
There were five interview rounds, with the last interview being a sit-down with the CEO. This was all for an entry-level customer service job. During the last interview, the CEO said employees weren’t allowed to get sick and they weren’t allowed to leave at the end of the day until all of their work had been done. So even though the job was 8-4, the CEO said customer service reps often stayed until 6 pm or later.
She also asked if I would be comfortable secretly reporting to her about what the customer service team was up to. I declined the job offer and the company harassed me with emails asking what they did wrong. I’m really glad I didn’t take the job.
19. Long-Distance Letdown
I interviewed for what was my dream job. It was something that I have two degrees in; one of which was from literally the most prestigious school in my field. They liked me so much in my first few rounds of interviews that they asked me to fly across the country for the final one. After easily the worst travel day of my life, I arrived for my interview.
The interviewer took one look at my resume and said, “I don’t know why you came all the way out here, you aren’t qualified for this.” Suffice to say I will never work there.
20. Coming Out Of The Woodwork
I went into a family-owned custom furniture shop that had several openings in the carpentry department. This should have been the first red flag. When I arrived, I spoke to the person at the front of the house, stating I was there for an interview. I later found out that the owner’s office was directly behind the front desk, and he was watching me through a two-way mirror during this exchange.
The conversation went as follows. Me to the front desk clerk: “Hi, I’m here to interview for the carpenter position. I saw your post online… The owner then stormed out of his office, pointed a finger at me, and angrily asked, “Are you experienced?” I replied, “Yes, I have seven years of experience with carpentry…but I am new to furniture.” He asked me again: “ARE. YOU. EXPERIENCED?”
I told him I was. “Fine, I’ll get the lead carpenter and he’ll talk to you.” At this point, I should have noped the heck out of there, but I had been unemployed for some time and my savings were running on fumes. I assumed he may have just been in a bad mood that day, so I waited for the lead carpenter. I would live to regret this incredibly stupid decision.
The lead carpenter came out and we had the interview on the sales floor. The interview was pretty normal—until he asked me about my experience. “So tell me how you have experience with woodwork but not with furniture,” he asked. I explained, “I build musical instruments. I’m familiar with all power tools and measurements required.”
The carpenter looked at me like I had two heads, but the rest of the interview proceeded as normal. He then stated he’d start me off as a probation hire for two weeks to see how I fit. Then he asked me if I had any questions. Immediately, I asked: “So, is the owner having a bad day?” The carpenter replied, “No, that’s how he is.”
We shared an awkward silence, staring at each other for about 10 seconds. Then, without saying anything, I just walked out. I found out a few weeks later from a friend who is a woodworker that that place was known amongst furniture woodworkers as one to avoid at all costs. He mentioned that a few days before I interviewed, their entire carpentry staff minus the lead carpenter walked out.
I now live about a mile from that store and pass it on my daily commute. Every five months or so, they put up a sign on the front that reads: “Now hiring all positions.” I can’t imagine how many people they have cycled through at this point.
21. Mixed Messaging
It was my best interview. I had a great rapport with the interviewer and he gave me the job on the spot. Then it all went so wrong. I came in to work the next day to have the offer rescinded. Apparently, the job was already given to the plant manager’s niece and it had only been posted because of company policy. This was the first of several times I had been promoted only to be told, “Nevermind.”
22. Sign On The Dotted Line
I had a Skype interview with a private practice and the lady interviewing me literally made it sound like a CIA outfit. “You can NEVER be late,” she said firmly. Mind you, the job was an hour away from where I lived. “Even if you have a cold, you can NEVER call in sick. Also, we’re a small company, so you won’t have much of a work/life balance.” But that’s not all. She continued: “Oh yeah, and our pay for all this dedication is only three dollars more than the measly pay you’re getting now.”
The whole interview was full of red flags. The last red flag, though, was when the lady messaged me immediately after saying I got the job and said I had to leave my current job with only five days’ notice. This was regardless of me kind of screwing up the interview and her claiming there were other interviewees in line. I could see why they were having trouble hiring people.
23. How Dare You
I was the interviewer. The candidate responded to a question I asked with, “Is that really how you want to spend our time together, by asking me that question?” When I wrote up my notes, I included that bit, and it obviously came up in the debrief. Some of my coworkers who also interviewed him had similar feedback. He was not hired.
24. You Catch More Flies With Honey
I had a phone interview and the woman kept asking more and more intrusive questions. She also kept hinting that I was a total piece of trash who was totally unfit for the job. She just kept jumping to conclusions about my life that were completely untrue. Then, the already-horrible situation escalated quickly. I was a freelancer who got a lot of decently paid work each month, but she didn’t believe I earned that money myself and even accused me of living off my parents.
She kept going on and on like that for quite a while before I told her to screw off. Years later, I found out it was a “stress interview,” which apparently is a thing. Screw those people.
25. Not-So Friendly Fire
The interviewer immediately launched into a particular question with a rough, accusatory tone: “You’re a job hopper. Why are you a job hopper?” I’d been working, successfully, as an independent consultant for seven or eight years, which she equated to “job hopping.” I ended that interview pretty quickly, saying, “I don’t think this is going to be a good fit.” I gave the recruiter some pointed feedback…At least she seemed to acknowledge that she was difficult.
26. Full Disclosure
I had an interview at an office supply store once. The guy told me straight up that it was a high-pressure, quota-based sales job. He openly admitted it was a lot of work for very low pay and that not a lot of people enjoyed working there. He finished off with the fact that he’d been there for 18 years. I practically ran out of that interview screaming.
27. Young And Dumb
When I was an interviewer, I had a guy say he just needed to run to the restroom… but he never came back. His recruiter, who had come with him, was super embarrassed by the whole thing. Honestly, he was a young kid who had just graduated, and while he was getting some of the more in-depth technical questions wrong, he definitely was asking the right questions in return.
We probably would have brought him on in an entry-level position. I think he was experiencing a case of imposter syndrome, though, since we were asking him things he didn’t know. As a result, he panicked. I hope he received some coaching on how to handle that.
28. Not Going The Distance
My interviewer’s exact quote was: “We don’t care if you have a sick kid who needs to go to the ER; you can never have time off for the first six months.” First of all, that’s against the law, and second of all, I have a disability so I needed time off every few months for doctors’ appointments. They could not understand why I turned down the job.
The recruiter actually called me to try and told me I was just confused. Here’s how that went:
Me: “Okay, I’m happy to be wrong about this. What am I misunderstanding? The manager was pretty clear that no one gets time off, for any reason, even an ER visit, for the six-month intro period. Then, he asked to extend the intro period to one year, which means no time off for a whole year. Is that still the arrangement you’d be proposing?”
Recruiter: “Well yes…it’s just that EVERY new hire goes through this.”
Me: “Oh, I understand that. And that’s why I’m not accepting the job.”
Recruiter: “But…maybe you can negotiate some time off?”
Me: “Per state law, I’m entitled to this. The company cannot refuse it. The company has told me they plan to refuse it. I’m not quitting my job, which has unlimited paid time off, for a company that told me I couldn’t take my hypothetical child to the doctor. Or have a vacation or a sick day. We are entitled, as workers, to sick time, and you’ve now told me that you violate the law for every new hire at the expense of their own health and their child’s health. That’s not the type of company I want to work for.”
Recruiter: “But…you’re misunderstanding. Everyone we hire does this.”
Me: “Well…not me. Thanks again for calling.”
29. It’s A Trap!
My face tends to get really red when I’m stressed and embarrassed. In a previous job, my company hired a consultant to help some of us improve our presentation skills. This consultant gave me some good advice, but one of the weirder pieces of advice was that if my face got red, I should flex my calf muscles because the flexing would divert blood away from my face and to my legs.
I had no idea if that was true or not, but it was weird enough that I remembered it. At this job interview 10 years later, I was giving a presentation—I’m a scientist, and giving a research presentation was part of the interview. My research was pretty good, but it had one critical flaw that I wanted to avoid discussing during my presentation.
Somehow, everyone in the room locked in on the flaw immediately and directed a barrage of critical questions at me. I could feel my face starting to get red and all I could do was furiously flex my freaking calf muscles, which didn’t do a darned thing. I didn’t get the job.
30. By Any Other Name
I was the interviewer, hiring for a position that involved working with individuals with mental or physical disabilities. The person I was interviewing used the word “retarded” multiple times. I pointed it out after the second use, stating, “This is a position working with people with disabilities and that is a word that is not tolerated in this environment.” His response was horrific.
He simply shrugged it off, and maybe two minutes later, he dropped it again. I stood up, thanked him for their interest, handed him back his resume, and told him I could already tell it wouldn’t be a good fit. Then I walked him to the door.
31. Message Coming Through Loud And Clear
I had a bad interview back in the day. I don’t remember the specifics other than I was really nervous, and I didn’t have a good feeling about it at all. It was one of those interviews you have to really shake off of yourself at the end of the day. Well, I had a “We are sorry to inform you…” email waiting for me before I finished the 10-minute trip home.
32. High And Mighty
This happened in 2008. I had just graduated as a massage therapist and since the economy was in the pits due to the recession, MTs were not exactly in high demand. I knew going into interviews that employers were going to be picky. The only reason I was even considered for most of my interviews was that I graduated from an accredited school. But that didn’t mean I had it easy.
A lot of the places I interviewed at would turn me down pretty quickly since I didn’t have 10+ years experience or the body of a supermodel with a massive rack—I’m 100% serious, by the way. Easily the worst experience was with a chiropractor who did absolutely nothing to hide his contempt for massage therapists.
He showed up late, then went into his office to check his mail first before having the interview with me in his waiting room. He knew he could pick any MT he wanted and didn’t care at all about how I felt. When it finally got on the subject of pay, he offered me minimum wage. At the time, your average MT was paid about $20 to $30 an hour, and I was already working an awful job at a gas station making $2 more than what he was offering.
I brought up how absurdly low his offer was and he balked, saying that I would be paid as if I was working 40 hours a week so it would even out. He also clarified that I would be expected to clean the office when not seeing a client—so hey, I’d also be an underpaid janitor as well. Screw that guy. I didn’t get the job, but I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway.
33. The Eye Of The Tiger
At an interview for a tech start-up, they asked me, “If you could be any animal, what would you be?” I answered “otter” because, you know; they’re fun, they’re active, they work well with their hands, and they’re cute as heck. When I saw their faces, my stomach dropped. They didn’t like the reply at all, and then they genuinely debated whether or not to hire me because of that answer.
“We only hire predators, never prey.” However, they weren’t sure how to quantify an otter, because none of them had ever paid the least bit of attention to any sort of animal documentary or read a biology textbook. God, that job sucked hard—yes, I eventually got it, though I regretted it.
34. A Swing And A Miss
I had a situation where I was the interviewer and a guy came in ripped jeans and a T-shirt. This wasn’t a deal-breaker necessarily, since this was a sales or stockroom job at Macy’s. However, he proceeded to completely fail the interview and then ask me out at the end. The answer, on all sides, was a firm no.
35. Try Hard, Fail Harder
I went for an interview for a receptionist job about seven years ago. It was for a veterinarian. I really wanted to work in medical centers as it’s highly regarded in the industry in town. I researched everything I could—I tore their website apart, read about all the doctors, thought of tactful, yet not “know it all” type questions. Basically, I did the works.
During the interview, I brought up one of the services they offered…and they had no idea what I was talking about. They treated me like I was a child, and they embarrassed me with the attitude they had towards me. I came dressed in a pencil skirt, dress shirt, blazer, and low heels. I did my hair and makeup perfectly. They had no reason to treat me the way they did. I was eager, friendly, and on time.
I still, to this day, have no idea why they hated me so much. I left rejected, humiliated, and insecure.
36. A Sick Idea Of Fun
I had a manager call me for an “interview” just so he could tell me what a piece of trash I was. He ridiculed me for having had five jobs over a 15 year period. Apparently, he only hired people who worked somewhere for at least 10 years or had never worked before. I’m not some shrinking violet, so I let him have it for wasting my time and being a toxic idiot right back. Then I got my revenge.
When I got home, I called their HR department and told them essentially he must get his rocks off by belittling potential and current employees. Obviously, I don’t know what happened to him, but at least something would go on record. If he was doing that kind of stuff to me, I have no doubt he was doing it to his actual employees.
37. Bait And Switch
I got an interview with Amazon to be a “supervisor.” They asked me to drive all the way to another city to do my second interview, despite the place I applied for being 10 minutes away from where I lived. The pay they were offering was good, though, so I thought it was worth it and took a day off from my current job. Big mistake.
When I drove there, I discovered that they had given me choppy directions, causing me to get lost. The owners of the place I pulled over to rolled their eyes. Apparently, this wasn’t the first time this had happened, and they knew exactly where to point me. That was red flag number one. I finally arrived and went to the interview.
Well, over 100 people showed up. Red flag number two. They were doing a group interview for the role of supervisor and told me they “accidentally” invited too many people and that they only had 10 positions available for the supervisor role. They asked me if instead of a supervisor position I’d like to have a starting position for barely above minimum wage. That’s the moment when I realized the truth.
This was way too organized. They EXPECTED this many people because they PLANNED this and even had everything set up for a large group interview. I did my best but I still felt insulted. I drove home after the interview feeling cheated. I wasted four hours driving…all that wasted gas and lost hours that I could have worked…
They PLANNED this! I realized working for them would be a huge mistake. They had no respect for me as a person. It was clearly a deceptive bait and switch and I was not falling for it. Shady, shady, shady! I later sent them a letter declining the position outright.
38. Amateur Hour
It was my first real job interview. It was for a graphic design position in downtown Dallas for a men’s grooming product company. I was SO nervous, and when I took a drink from a bottle of water I was shaking so much I spilled some on myself. Also, I was very unprepared because my portfolio only contained things I made in high school for a graphic design internship. Needless to say, I did not get the job.
39. Right On Time
I drove an hour away to an interview at 8 am. I waited outside the interviewer’s office until 8:30 am, with no one there to tell me where to go or where she was. Finally, another employee walked by and I asked if he knew where this woman was. He had no idea, but he did tell me that if she wasn’t there yet, I should probably just leave because she likely forgot.,
I decided 45 minutes would be my cut-off. I didn’t want to loiter in front of a government building, looking like a creep. At 8:45 on the dot, she rushed in flustered, sporting wet hair and casual yoga pants. With all the resurgence of patience I could muster, I greeted her and was met with a passive-aggressive scolding of how the interview was at 9, not 8.
Uh…I tripled checked the email and it said 8. We had conducted a phone interview and she followed up with an email request to an in-person interview at 8. I was 100% positive on this, and I hate being late. So I actually told her politely, “I’m certain you said 8 am, ma’am.” But she wasn’t having it.
She went on about why she was late and that made it even weirder. Apparently, she went to the gym and forgot her underwear to change into and had to stop at a store to buy new ones after working out, before coming to work. She told me this in the first five minutes of the interview, even though I didn’t ask her. Regardless, she looked at my resume, apparently for the first time, because she proceeded to tell me how it was unimpressive and how my graduate studies should have yielded more publications.
Throughout the interview, she kept saying how I had “moved up the interview time,” then she showed me the workspaces and told me I “probably wouldn’t be interested in what they do there anyway.” I politely told her that I had driven, at her request, to be there for a job interview and that I was VERY interested. She waved me off.
As we left, I just tried to hold it together (I was very poor and very desperate for a job). I thanked her, and she told me how great it was to work for the government—the benefits, the pension, and the time off. She went on and on. She said, “If you can find an opening working for the government, you should try to check it out and get hired!”
HOLD UP. I just looked her in the face and said, “Yes, ma’am, that was my hope with today’s interview. Thank you.” Then I exited the building. I sat in my car and bawled the whole drive home like the desperate loser I was. That was a low one, to be sure.
40. Stormy Weather
This interviewer said employees got marked down one point if they came in late to work, even in a blizzard. She said it was their responsibility to check the weather the day before and prepare accordingly. Some of their employees commuted from 100 miles away, so they didn’t cut anybody any slack. Usually, I send a follow-up email saying thanks for the interview, but I didn’t send an email that time.
41. Wrong Place, Wrong Time
I once did an interview with a software company that specialized in Bluetooth applications. Right off the bat, one of the interviewers was so socially awkward that he could barely speak above a whisper. When he wasn’t literally hiding behind a copy of my resume, he was staring at the table in front of him. Whatever…he was awkward, but he seemed like a smart guy, and the other dude did most of the talking anyway.
But then they asked me about my work experience. That’s when the real problems started. They kept giving me confused looks every time I answered. Eventually, they just asked, “So I’m wondering, you don’t have any professional experience as a python developer?” To which I replied no. “Why may I ask are you applying to a senior python developer role then?”
Uhhh, it was supposed to be an interview for an RF engineering role. Well, it turns out that there was a mix-up with the recruitment agency that they hired and they posted a job that had already been filled. These guys were interviewing me for a totally different job. They were just so nice and polite that they were just going to let me blather on and on about the experience I had for the wrong job.
We all just kind of laughed a sigh of relief. They apologized, then I thanked them and left. Just an awkward waste of time.
42. Kids These Days
I interviewed for an internship position with the Associated Press in college. At the time, I was studying magazine journalism and was a government reporter for the school-run newspaper. I had also previously worked at my hometown newspaper as a page layout designer. The interviewer was obviously OVER interviewing kids and he was very snotty to me.
He pointed out my experience and said, “So you’re studying magazines, you write for a newspaper, you do layout…what exactly do you want to DO? This is a lot of very different stuff.” I replied that I didn’t think it was a bad thing to have a lot of experience in various aspects of journalism. He kind of snorted at that and continued being snotty to me.
I figured out pretty quickly that I wasn’t getting the internship. In the end, he pointed at a pile of stuff and told me to take my AP-branded lanyard and tin of mints. I just said, “Wow, it’s just like Christmas,” in a deadpan voice as I left.
43. Don’t Play Games
I interviewed for a job at a game store about seven or eight years ago. The manager was doing the interview and she spent the entire time just gossiping about the other people who came in for interviews. I realized right then and there that it was going to be a super toxic environment, but I needed the money so I just smiled and nodded.
I only ended up working there for a couple of months because I found a different job elsewhere, but I was indeed correct about my hunch. Everyone was so two-faced. They’d act like your friend when you were working the same shift as them, but then they’d turn around and blast you every chance they got when you weren’t around. Management really does set a tone.
44. Use Your Head, Lady
I’m a restaurant manager. We were opening a new location, so we were doing interviews for all positions. This woman came in for a management position. During the interview, she reached into her purse and pulled out a bag from Wendy’s. She started eating during the interview. The other manager told her to put it away and she told him it was fine okay, she can multi-task.
45. No, And No Again
I once sat in on an interviewer’s debrief for a large organization where you needed professional skills. They were open to recruiting internally for a new position at a higher level, so a few people already in the organization at a slightly lower level applied and were interviewed that day. For one of them, it went very, very badly.
One candidate performed so poorly in the interview that not only did she not get the promotion, but they also decided to have a private meeting about whether or not to fire her from the job she already had. That was, in my view, a really terrible interview.
46. Fan Favorite
The vice president of the company and an HR person conducted my interview. The person who would be “my boss” if I got the position was running a few minutes late. We were making small talk and at one point, one of them brought up a recent football game. I told them honestly that I didn’t keep up with football. As I was saying this, the other guy came in.
I turned around and he was basically just missing the face paint. He was head-to-toe in Cleveland Browns apparel, which seemed strange for a place of business. I lost him before he even sat down…he basically messed with his phone the whole time and embarrassed the other two people in the room. For what it’s worth, if I did like football, I wouldn’t root for the freaking Browns.
47. The More You Know, The Less You Offend
This one company was downsizing, and all of the employees in a specific yet exclusive division were fired and ordered to reapply for their positions. There were also two other jobs up for grabs in the company—you’d either get one of those jobs or be terminated. The subsequent interviews were conducted with a manager and an HR person. This was my first interview in an executive suite.
The manager asked, “Why aren’t you applying for this key supervisory slot?” (I had listed it second on my list.) I replied, “I would prefer to stay in my expertise. I’ve won a National award for my work in the past and I would love to continue down that road.” HR: “I didn’t know awards like that existed.” Great…thanks for knowing nothing at all about your company and nothing at all about your employees.
48. Cruel To Be Kind
I had an interview where I knew the answers I gave were good. I understood the technical side as well. But the interviewer kept sneering, being rude, and saying “Really?” in a skeptical tone. I got a distinct impression that he hated me. About 20 minutes in, I thought about politely calling it a day and leaving, but in my innocence, I thought it would be good practice to stay.
40 minutes in, he pulled a total 180. He suddenly became the nicest guy—his eyes light up and he started hard-selling the role and position to me. He also introduced me to the team. I even met the director. That’s when I learned the chilling truth. Apparently, their interview technique is to be rude to see how you perform under pressure.
While he was grilling me, they’d all been observing using a camera and were impressed that I remained so polite and calm throughout. They couldn’t understand why I declined. For what it’s worth, I understand pressure testing is a legitimate technique, and while I felt deeply uncomfortable and my gut was screaming at me to get out of there, I understood that it was a possibility that he was testing me and my patience.
However, they had my work history, including 10 years in the ambulance services which involves very high-pressure situations. I’m used to being polite and professional while being harassed and threatened. Nothing spreadsheet-based, even pulling all-nighters, is going to match that for pressure. I’m well known for staying calm and composed all the time.
My biggest objection was not realizing I was being broadcast and hearing them discuss my reactions to my face like I was some kind of movie actor. It felt so violating.
49. Count Me Out
I drove two hours for the interview. I got there and the interviewer was sick and hadn’t told anyone about me coming in. I got back in my car and drove the two hours home, then withdrew my name from consideration.
50. Honesty Is The Best Policy
In the summer after my freshman year of college, I applied for a part-time job at a mall outlet. Despite having zero retail experience, I got through the first round of interviews without any trouble whatsoever, performing well enough that the assistant manager wanted to give me the job on the spot. Since she didn’t have the authority to do that, though, I had to meet with her supervisor a couple of days later.
“It’s really just a formality,” she told me. “You know, to make sure you’re not, like, a creep something.” Anyway, when the date of my second interview rolled around, I was in high spirits. The manager had me fill out a brief questionnaire, then started asking me some fairly dull questions. Everything seemed to be going smoothly…but then he dropped a bomb on me.
“What’s the most that you’ve ever stolen?” the man asked. “Give me a dollar amount.” “Uh,” I stammered. “Is that really a question you can ask?” “I’m just looking for a dollar amount.” I racked my brain, trying to think of anything that I might have actually taken over the course of my life. I’d certainly gotten up to my fair share of mischief, but actual theft had never been part of my repertoire.
“Zero,” I finally said. “I don’t think I’ve ever actually done that.” The manager’s plastered-on smile suddenly dropped away. “I see. Are you sure?” “Yep.” “Really.” The beginnings of a suspicious glower darkened his eyes. “Go ahead and answer again. Just give me a dollar amount.” What had started as a dull interview had become a downright bizarre interrogation.
I thought about getting up and leaving…but it occurred to me that the whole thing might have been a test to see if I would change my answer. “Zero,” I said again. “Zero dollars.” The man sighed and put down his clipboard. “Come on. Do you actually want this job?” he asked (mirroring my own thoughts). I nodded in reply. “Then you need to start being honest with me. Just give me a dollar amount.”
“Fine, it was 16 dollars!” I finally lied, pouring sarcasm into my words. “Sixteen dollars and forty-two cents!” The transformation was immediate: All of the disapproval evaporated from the manager’s face and it was replaced by a warm, visibly amused smile. “Hey, now, that’s not so bad!” he cheerfully said. “So, what was it?” “A toaster.”
I hadn’t even bothered to think about what $16.42 might actually be worth; I’d just said the first thing that had popped into my mind. It didn’t seem to matter, though. My answer caused the manager’s grin to grow even wider, and he spent the rest of the interview laughing and joking with me. The next day, I got a call, and I was asked if I still wanted the job at the mall.
I told them that I’d already taken a different position elsewhere. For the record, that was also a lie.
51. Animal Instincts
I remember Taco Bell asked me what type of animal I would be if I could be anything. At first, all I could do was blink at them. Like, what the heck do you want me to say? Something like, “I would be a fire ant so I could work efficiently with my closest friends!” Probably. Well, 16-year-old me said an eagle, because they’re strong and they can fly. Meh…
52. My Own Worst Enemy
My very first job application was for a position as a direct support professional for people with disabilities. It was my first interview ever and it had never even remotely occurred to me that I might be asked about my weaknesses. Well, he dropped the classic “What’s your greatest weakness?” question mid-way through. I panic froze for a few minutes and asked for some time to consider it.
My interviewer was extremely patient (and I think bemused). Eventually, I slowly answered, “I’d say I’m impatient…” His expression immediately 180’ed from a kind smile to a wide-eyed grimace, but it felt like it happened in slow motion. I felt like I was watching the world’s most prolonged and inevitable car crash. I quickly threw my open hands up and blurted out, “With myself!! Not other people, just with myself!”
My panic brain was trying to explain that I’m self-critical. I guess he got what I was getting at after some babbled explanation because I got the job. I loved that job so much!
53. Squaring Off
The first question they asked me was a statistics exam-type question. It took me completely off guard. I gave a half-baked answer since a complete answer would have taken half an hour. The next question was about a Punnett Square analysis. I answered honestly and said that the first thing I would do would be to look it up.
Errors in Punnett Squares are incredibly common, and I wouldn’t trust anyone who said they could do it off the top of their head. I’d look it up even if I’d done one last week. They REALLY didn’t like that answer. They also wanted to know where my husband worked and where we lived, and they concluded that our six-month rental location was completely incompatible with the commute to their location.
The whole thing was just super weird. It was like they sat down determined to find a reason they should not hire me. I was relieved to get out of there.
54. Not Picking Up What You’re Putting Down
At an interview to be a county street sweeper, the guy asked me if I had a girlfriend, then proceeds to rant for five minutes about how young people don’t get married anymore. Then he asked me what I wanted to avoid at the job. At the time, I had no idea how to answer that question, as I’d never been asked that in an interview before.
So I asked him to clarify. In response, he just repeated the question over and over until he got super angry at the fact that I didn’t know how to answer. He eventually asked me to leave. To this day, it is the weirdest interview I’ve ever had.