Is there anything worse than job hunting? Well, actually yes, there is: Heading into an interview, either as the applicant or the interviewer, and realizing it’s a literal nightmare. Whether the candidate is off their rocker or the company is full of unhinged bosses, here are job interview horror stories from both sides of the resume.
1. No Girls Allowed
My wife once interviewed a man who refused to speak to women due to religious reasons. This meant he would not speak to her during his interview. She tried to stress to him that she was the manager for the position in question and would be the person conducting the interview. She asked him questions for 10 minutes, none of which he answered.
She said it was incredibly uncomfortable. That was strange enough, but then she realized the darker truth. He was not a new hire, and had like 12 years of experience at another company. I’m not sure how you can make it 12 years when refusing to work with or talk to women.
2. Steve No-Jobs
When we are on the fence about a resume, we will do the background calls first if the applicant is happy for us to do so. One of the times we did this for a candidate, we got two pieces of information: “I bet he turns up to the interview in the following clothes…” and secondly, “He’s great at the job, but if you can, put him in a corner of the office away from others.”
Unsure what to do with this information, we decided to go ahead with the interview. He did indeed turn up in the exact clothes mentioned—it turned out he thought he was Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. The problem was, he doesn’t have multiple outfits that look the same…which led to the other red flag. He stank of sweat and pee. Needless to say, that was the end of the process for him with us.
3. All About Chickens
Many years ago when I was in first-year microbiology, I applied for a summer job tagging ducks in the wild. The interview consisted of three distinguished academics in a stuffy room showing me photos of ducks and asking me to identify the species. I knew absolutely nothing about ducks and surely misidentified every single one.
Eventually, the three interviewers exclaimed, “Do you have any experience with birds at all?!” Realizing there was no chance of getting this job, I tried to make light of the situation and I gave a reply that I’m embarrassed about to this day: “Well, I help my uncle butcher chickens every year.” The three of them sat in stunned silence before finally ending the interview. I’m sure they still tell the story of the crazy bird murderer applying for a job at the waterfowl conservation group.
4. Getting To Know You
I interviewed for a job at a firm when I had just moved to a new country. During our conversation, they proceeded to bring up my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles on the computer screen in front of me. They started going through my accounts and commenting on things. They laughed at me over photos where I was wearing a dress at a Christmas party. That’s not even the worst part.
They also complained that I didn’t have any endorsements on LinkedIn, which was really important to them for some reason. And I only had 20 Twitter followers, which they felt they needed to bring up. And in case you’re wondering, this position had nothing whatsoever to do with social media. They just stalked my accounts for the fun of it, apparently.
I had all the required experience for the position, but they were just so ridiculously caught up in these stupid freaking social media profiles that they felt like they needed to belittle me from the get go. They told me to send through some references, but I was so embarrassed and disheartened by the direction of the interview that it drained any interest I had in working for them at all.
To their surprise, I told them not to expect any references from me, and then I quietly walked away.
5. Baby, I’m Worth It
It was my third and final interview at a tech company. All three rounds of interviews had taken place on the same day, in one long marathon interview process. The first two went well and I was told that this last one was just a formality to officially set everything up. They wanted me to join their team. So my final interview with the head of the office guy seemed to start off pretty well.
We walked to the cafeteria, grabbed a couple of coffees, and with some small talk we learned that we both knew some of the same people. We get back to his office and sit down. He looks at my file and remarks: “It says here you’re looking for [certain salary].” I said yes, and explained that it’s really close to the market average for someone with my skills and experience.
He looks me straight in the eye, without hesitation, and says, “I don’t think you’re worth that much.” I said, “Excuse me?” He repeated it. I laughed, grabbed my bag, stood up, thanked him for his time, and walked out of the room. Well, guess who got the last laugh. The company went out of business like a year or so later. I feel I dodged a major headache there in the long run.
6. Not So Perfect Match
I had a woman show up in a perfectly matched outfit and not a hair out of place. She was quite aggressive during the interview. I had to be way too overbearing to ask my questions, as she was trying to be in control of the interview. She was acting like I had given her a job offer already, asking about where she would fall on the published pay range even though she was fresh out of school.
I should note she was middle-aged and just new to the field. Well, it’s a very specialized field, so all candidates had to pass a knowledge test. Even though I had written her off, I took her to an empty cubicle and told her to knock on my office door when she was done. Unexpectedly, she was back five minutes later, crying. She said the music from the radio in the next cubicle was too loud and people talking was too distracting.
The cubicle she was in would have been where she would have to work if she was hired. When HR informed her she was not hired, she had her program coordinator—my former co-worker—conference calls me and her to find out why she was always being passed over, believing it was due to her age.
7. There’s No “I” In Team
I was interviewing for a management position, running a mail room. It was something I’d done twice before. All the standard questions were asked. I felt like it was going well. Then, he suddenly says to me, “I’m hearing a lot of ‘I’ from you. I’m concerned, because we are all about the team here at this company, and not the individual.”
The heck? It’s a job interview! And you’re concerned that I am answering questions you have asked specifically about me, with answers that address your questions about me?? That’s utterly nonsensical. I don’t even remember how I responded, but I knew I didn’t want to deal with his stupid semantic word and mind games, which I was sure I’d only seen the surface of.
So I steered us right into concluding the interview, and I left. But that wasn’t all. I also made a subtle show of taking back the copies of my resume that I had brought with me.
8. Glitter Explosion
I worked at a company that helped adults get their GED. We were looking for another teacher, and our want ad clearly stated they would be teaching adults. One applicant sent us her resume in a mailing tube. It was about 1 m (3 ft) long and contained her resume. And then came the most unbelievable part. Her letter of interest was on a poster board that was made up to look like a child’s craft project…and glitter.
She had literally poured a ton of loose glitter right into the tube. Have you ever had to open one of those tubes? You have to pry a plastic cap off one end, and sometimes they are really tough to get off. I ended up having to stab it with a letter opener and levering it off, and it came loose very suddenly and forcefully. Chaos then ensued.
My opening technique caused the tube’s contents to kind of explode everywhere…including the glitter. So not only did this woman send a mailing tube bomb with a completely inappropriate-for-the-position letter, she primed it with the dirt of the crafting world. When I left the job years later, the office rug still had glitter embedded throughout it.
9. Top Of The Class
I was hiring student employees for a really well-paying summer gig in the agriculture field. The job posting described the job duties: heavy lifting, working for 12 weeks, 40 hours, early starts some days, and frequent overtime as late as 7 pm. We mentioned this in the job description and talked about what we did to compensate.
Out of 80 applications, I would say only 10 didn’t disqualify themselves right off the bat by filling out their available hours as 9 am to 4 pm. I still accepted a few of them to call with the thought that maybe they just filled out what they thought a normal workday would be since this was a job that required zero experience.
But no, these folks legitimately thought that 9 am to 4 pm was standard for agricultural work. One girl responded that she could only work three days a week because it could interfere with her cheerleading and sorority. Then, when I stated that the job description had mentioned the amount of overtime required, she argued that she really needed the job because it paid so well.
I thanked her for her time and told her I’d follow up in a few days, which was an email saying the position had been filled. But there was something more shocking to me. She wasn’t the only one with this argument and expectation that I would hire them with similar conditions. Who applies to a hard labor job with zero experience and expects the same benefits as a white-collar professional?
10. Safe And Secure
A jumped-up security guard made me walk away before I even got in the building for an interview. I followed the instructions that I was sent by the hiring manager, which was to park in the designated guest spaces. Nevertheless, as soon as I showed up, the security guard came charging out of the building, yelling at me when I was barely out of the car about how I couldn’t park there.
Then, when I raised my voice just to try and get him to listen, he started yelling at me for yelling at him. Eventually, when I got to tell him that I was told to park there, he called the hiring manager and started yelling at them about how I had been yelling at him. Partway through that phone call, I thought “Nah, screw this!” I then got back in the car and drove off.
The hiring manager called me to apologize and asked if I’d come back and give the company another chance. I politely declined, saying that I wanted nothing to do with that security guard again.
11. Green, But Don’t Go
Our very nice HR person came to tell me about a phone screening she just finished for a job we were hiring for. The guy seemed fine at first; kind of cocky, but whatever. Then he was like, “So how green is it?” She didn’t understand what he meant and politely said so. They went back and forth for a bit. “How green is it?! You know, other countries use gold or silver. Green!”
At first, she thought maybe he meant how entry-level or “new” the job was, but then she thought maybe he meant to ask how much did it pay? “Yeah! NOW you’re getting it!” She apologized for not understanding at first, but politely mentioned the salary range and he immediately hung up. She was shaken up, and we had never seen her like that before.
My coworkers and I were like, “Cool, I hope he never gets a job anywhere ever.” I wrote “extremely rude” at the top of his resume and put it on my desk so I would never forget it. Maybe three months later, I heard from my boss that they just interviewed a guy for a different position at my company and he was starting Monday.
The name sounded familiar, so I checked my desk, and I gasped—it was THE SAME GUY. I was livid all weekend; for the whole month if I’m being honest. This guy showed up, was constantly loud and obnoxious, and he was the kind of know-it-all that explained things he knew nothing about. He didn’t know anything about databases for instance, which is basically the job he was hired for.
Basically, he had to be babysat by the guy he was supposed to be taking on some of the workloads for. His desk turned out to be right over a cubicle wall from me, so I had to listen to him complain all day about how hard the job was. Half the time, he was talking about the health benefits at the company and how long one had to work there for certain things.
And the other half of the time, he was saying things that honestly made me think he was trying to get fired. He basically did zero correct work for a few months, then disappeared one day. We got a call from his daughter saying that he was in the hospital for heart surgery. We felt a little bad, but couldn’t shake the thought that it wasn’t emergency heart surgery and he only got the job so he could get on our very good health insurance.
We finally heard from him and he said he couldn’t come to work for six months. My boss said, “Sorry, we can’t just keep you on for that long. The most medical leave will cover is eight more weeks, so we have to let you go so we can hire someone else.” He changed his mind and said he would be back in eight weeks. We never heard from him again.
12. Pretty In Pink
I showed up early for my job interview and the woman at the front desk greeted me while I waited for the appointment time to arrive. I introduced myself and handed her my resume, then waited quietly and patiently. Once I got into the actual interview, I saw that she had taped a bright pink note to my resume that read: “Has the personality of a rock.”
How she determined that from our brief introductory exchange was beyond me at the time. The interviewer saw my facial expression when I saw the note. I thanked him for his time and left right away. I later found out (a couple of years later, when I worked with a former employee of that firm) that the woman at the front desk was the boss’s wife.
Apparently, she had made it known to him that she didn’t want any young (or thin, or single) women working in the office. It’s actually pretty funny to me in hindsight, as awful as it was. This happened close to 30 years ago when I was just starting out in my career. I assume that both the boss and his wife are deceased or at least retired by now.
The firm still exists, but clearly policies have changed as their staff is now quite diverse, including several women on the younger side.
13. Say His Name
In my job, I’ve interviewed hundreds of individuals. One that stands out was this candidate for an entry-level retail position. I called him in for an interview and after introductions, I brought him up to the break room for the interview itself, as the training room was in use. He was a kind of sketchy-looking individual, wearing a beat-up black cap and what looked to be a dirty hoodie.
But I didn’t think too much of it because I did call him in on short notice, and I don’t like to judge a candidate solely on how they look. It is retail, after all–what do you expect candidates to look like? I excused myself for 30 seconds to check in on my trainee and when I came back, the candidate looked a little uncomfortable. Not thinking much of it, I started the interview by asking the standard questions: what he’s done previously, why he wants to work here, etc.
I had noticed that he continually looked uncomfortable, and it almost looked as though he was hiding something in his hands. I eventually asked if there was something wrong, and if I could assist him with it—and then he came clean with the bizarre truth. He explained he had a fistful of candy, jellybeans in this case, and he was not sure what to do with them.
I was a bit gobsmacked and obviously had questions that I wish I would have asked. Where did he get this candy? Why did he think it was a good idea to eat candy in an interview? What was he going to do with this candy? As I tried to articulate a response he exclaimed, “I know!” and proceeded to shove the entire handful into his mouth. And this wasn’t just a couple of jellybeans.
This was a massive handful of now sweaty, sticky candies that he had just thrown into his mouth. And he started to chew. And chew. His hands were stained, and he was really working his jaw due to the sheer amount and the chewy nature of jellybeans. I swear thirty seconds passed before he finally gulped them down and asked calmly, “You were saying?”
Needless to say, the interview did not continue much longer than that and unfortunately, the candy man did not get a job with us.
14. I’ve Got A Few Questions For You…
The woman who would have been my boss spent the entire job interview asking me some very inappropriate and just generally un-okay questions. These questions included: “Are you sexually active right now?”, “What are your views on dating a coworker?”, “What are some of your deepest and most intimate romantic fantasies?” No, seriously.
I assumed that, if I rejected her, I would never get the job and, even if I did, every single day would be uncomfortable as heck to work around her, so I just stated that I was no longer interested in the job and walked away. She looked very surprised. Now, I work at a place doing the same thing I would have been doing there, but with more pay and a boss that doesn’t objectify me.
15. Lesser Of Two Evils
One of my professors told me this story when I was in college. A long time ago, his department was looking to hire some kind of new junior assistant; a professor type. They had narrowed it down to two highly qualified candidates, both of which were fresh out of grad school. They knew they were going to hire one or the other.
As a final step of the process, they decided to take both of them out to dinner separately. The first guy was cordial throughout the whole thing, seemed to get along with everybody, and was just fine overall. Only at the end of the meal, he ruined everything for himself—he picked up his empty plate and licked the whole thing clean. Like, tongue flat against the surface of the plate, covering every inch of it until it was clean.
And in the middle of a nice restaurant, too. Then, he just set the plate down like it was the most normal thing in the world. Everyone just stared at him, and then awkwardly tried to just wrap things up. Afterward, they laughed about it to each other…like what a bizarre and unnecessary way to throw away a near clinch on a good job opportunity.
Then they took the second guy out; almost just a formality at this point. Again, everything was fine—he was polite, perfectly qualified, and he seemed to know the right things to say. But at the very end, they asked him if he had any questions for them. He paused and thought for a moment, then spit out a shocking inquiry: “So what is the student-teacher dating policy?”
Afterward, the other professors were sitting around together to discuss the interviews and one of them said, “Well, looks like we are hiring the plate licker.”
16. The Wheels On The Bus
When I finished university, I didn’t have a sensible job to go to immediately. I went to a job agency and said I was looking for a temporary job for experience working in my chosen field of IT. I didn’t care exactly what it was, or even really how much it paid. I just wanted to get my feet wet in the industry. We talked about my existing qualifications and experience.
At the end of the “interview,” they said they had the perfect job for me. I was told that someone would pick me up the following morning. I said that I could drive, but no. They insisted that someone from their organization would pick me up. Fine. As I said, I didn’t really care where it was or exactly what I was doing as long as it met my admittedly vague requests, and they assured me that it did. I should’ve seen the red flags.
The following day, a minibus came to get me. So where did they take me to work? A salad packing factory, to spend the day literally packing salad. I was getting paid, so what did it matter for one day? The worst was finding out over lunch that if I had literally just turned up at the factory without any special arrangements, they would have probably still given me work.
That is what had happened for most of the staff there, who were largely seasonal workers from Eastern Europe. Also, I found out that those folks were paid more than me. Not because I was new, but because anybody who just turned up would likely get work and get paid more than I was. Obviously, they took us there by minibus, so that we couldn’t just leave once we’d been tricked into going.
But I decided to do exactly that. I finished my lunch and then walked all the way home.
17. Let’s Lock The Door And Throw Away The Key
I went to one job interview where I was not informed about the evidently very strict building security prior to the interview. It turned into my worst nightmare. The front door was practically unmarked, and you had to swipe a card to get in. But there was no intercom. The elevator required a card as well, but the stairs didn’t. However, no one informed me that the stairwells are locked from the outside, meaning that I quickly found myself locked in the stairwell with no way to get out.
I had no idea what to do. I tried to call the recruiter over and over again, and I even called the front desk of the building, but they both just kept putting me on hold instead of sending someone to let me in at the correct floor. I ended up getting a call from the recruiter while still stuck in the stairwell, telling me that they would not be going forward with the interview because I was late.
At that point, I almost screamed my head off at her. I somehow maintained my composure and asked her as calmly as I could manage to if she had gotten any of the messages that I left for her, letting her know I was presently stuck in the stairwell with no way to get out. She said that she hadn’t, but added that it was too late anyway because they had gone ahead with another candidate. Somehow, it still got worse.
She almost hung up before I could yell (probably too loudly), “THEN CAN SOMEONE PLEASE COME FREE ME FROM THE STAIRWELL SO I CAN LEAVE??” They sent security to get me, and I was treated like a criminal as I was led from the building. I have never been so confused, humiliated, and angry in my entire life. I left them a scathing review on Glassdoor.
Every time I tell this story, I get frustrated all over again. In fact, a lot of people have said that they are angry on my behalf. That’s usually the reaction when I tell this story. This happened eight years ago in the Boston, Massachusetts area. I honestly don’t recall the name of the company or the specific industry that it operated in. I have no idea if it even exists anymore.
I was scheduled for the interview through a temp agency, and had really only been told the bare minimum about the role and the people involved. In retrospect, temp agencies are not worth it in my opinion, and I wish I had just applied for jobs directly. I was only 21 years old and fresh out of college at the time. When people ask me why I didn’t report this to the authorities, I think I can only assume it was because of my youth and shy attitude.
I didn’t want to make waves, but now I realize that this was the wrong approach. So to those suggesting that I should have called the authorities and/or sued the company for putting me through that, I agree 100%. And my current self would definitely give my 21-year-old self the same advice in a heartbeat. I guess this is a perfect example of the “live and learn” philosophy.
18. Spaniard’s Dog
My colleague and I were interviewing for a construction role. The skills requirement was pretty specific. This chap passed the phone screening and we asked him in for an interview. When he arrived, we all shook hands and sat down. He took off the satchel thingy he was carrying and set it on the floor, and then leaned toward the bag on the floor and spent a full minute head down futzing inside the bag.
A minute is a long time. My colleague and I glanced at each other shrugging. When he finally pulled the item out of the bag, we were baffled. It was an iPad. Apparently, he had been trying to get it in its case. So, again with no explanation, he silently spent another minute setting up the iPad on its stand, which fell over two or three times until he got it perfectly balanced on the corner of my desk. He set up the photo gallery app and set a slideshow in motion.
Once all that was done, he launched uninvited into an explanation of the work in the pictures in the slideshow. He told us why the pictures all showed construction work in Spain, and why he had relocated from Spain to the UK. It was immediately clear that all the work was utterly irrelevant to this position. We got going with the first few questions in the hope that the situation might improve, but he interrupted just about every single question to explain each new picture as it appeared on the slideshow. All of it was irrelevant.
I was about to wrap up and kick him out when he found his stride and started giving slightly more in-depth answers without interruption as the slideshow carried on. We did our best to ignore it, but the bizarre hilarity of the situation almost got the better of my colleague and me a couple of times. We quickly worked out that we couldn’t look at each other for fear of bursting out laughing.
After a few more minutes, the construction phase of the slideshow ended without the guy noticing. There was some random picture of a car, then a picture of a night out with friends, then his kids, then a really close-up picture of his wife, then a slightly more zoomed-out picture of his wife getting ready for a night out. Pretty sure we weren’t meant to see that one. By this time, it was all we could do to not pee ourselves laughing.
Then it happened. The next picture was of his dog. His dog was huge. A proper unit. It was reclining on a comfortable chair. On its back. With its legs in the air. With its massive, pendulous bollocks wafting in the breeze. I have no idea how I contained myself. We wrapped up the interview mere seconds later. “Thanks, that’s all the questions we have. We’ll call you, goodbye.” We showed him the door and watched him disappear around the corner.
19. Waiting Game
We had a guy show up a full 40 minutes prior to his scheduled interview. Our office is one room that is shared by three people, so there was no good place for him to wait. I told him that he could go to the coffee shop next door and come back at the scheduled time. He said, “No, I’ll just wait here, I have a phone call to make.” He then proceeded to have a very loud phone conversation in our one-room office.
When it was finally time for his scheduled interview, he was still on the phone. What he did next caught me off-guard—he actually shushed me and said, “I’M ON THE PHONE.” 10 minutes later, he was ready to be interviewed. I am not even sure why we proceeded with the interview, but it was over quickly, and his resume was in the recycling bin before the door even closed behind him.
20. Getting Down And Dirty
One time, many years ago, I had applied for a software developer position for an online retailer. The first round of interviews was pretty straightforward and uneventful. It was basically just a traditional test of my technical skills and whiteboard coding session. I was informed that I got through to the second round, which was to be a “cultural fit” interview with HR.
Naturally, I assumed that it would be a one on one interview with a specific member of the HR team, but boy was I wrong. I got there and it was a room filled with 20 or so people all there for the same interview at once. These folks were applying for anything and everything at the company, from legal to finance. But the fact that it was a group interview wasn’t the end of the surprises…
When the interviewers entered the room, they asked us all to stand up, then crawl into a ball and pretend that we were flowers opening up. At this point, I honestly thought it was some kind of prank, but then I saw everybody around me doing it. Yeah, sorry but I don’t think we’re a good “cultural fit” if that’s the kind of thing you expect me to do.
I just said thanks for the opportunity, but that I didn’t get all dressed up in my most expensive outfit just to roll around on the ground and ruin it for the sake of some stunt. I then left the room, and I haven’t regretted it since.
21. Rude Attitude
I was a part of the interview process along with my district manager since I was the Team Lead at my store (basically a manager; we just didn’t call it that). We were interviewing three people. One walked in and I said hi, asking what I could help her with like we always do. In a super snobby voice, she said, “I need your manager. I am getting the job here and have to fill out my paperwork.”
I was kind of shocked. I asked for her name and her reply made my blood boil: “I’ll tell your manager, my name sweetheart.” She was probably in her mid to late-thirties. I told her I was the Team Lead in the store and that I was a part of the interview process so I would appreciate her giving me her name. My district manager walked in at this point, bringing me a huge coffee. He asked me what her name was and I told him I didn’t know.
She failed the interview before she even started as she was so rude. I told my District Manager about it and he straight crossed her name off of a list and wrote “rude” next to it so he wouldn’t bother trying to interview her again.
22. These Two Have Some Beef
I once showed up for a job interview in a suit and tie after answering a newspaper ad for a “warehouse worker.” Instead of a normal job interview at the warehouse, they had me get into some truck with one of the employees who drove me a few hours away, pulled over in some random neighborhood, and explained to me that the job was going door to door trying to sell cuts of meat to people, unsolicited.
I told him that this was not the “warehouse worker” job that they had advertised. I then added that if he did not bring me back home immediately, I was going to call the authorities and report a kidnapping. I was brought back to my car, but I was not paid for the several hours of my wasted time. Screw you, Pacific Prime of Cromwell, Connecticut!
23. Blades of Glory
The candidate arrived in rollerblades. He stayed in the rollerblades for the whole interview. He used the word “blade” instead of “walk” or “go” for the whole interview. I couldn’t tell if I was being Punk’d. Some more details to add—he was in his early twenties, and his resume was good but not great. The whole rollerblades thing wasn’t actually a deal-breaker, but it definitely didn’t help…especially when he insisted on sitting on the desk, rather than in a chair, so his rollerblade feet could just hang.
I had to insist a couple more times throughout the interview for him to take a seat, and his reluctance to do so didn’t help either.
24. Leaving Without Saying Goodbye
I actually interviewed and was tentatively hired by a call center that focused on getting donations for a variety of non-profit organizations. I was desperate, so even though there were some awkward moments at the interview, I still agreed to come in and continue with the process. This first interview was on a Thursday, and I was told to show up again the following Monday.
When I showed up on Monday morning, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The entire business unit was completely empty. Like, stripped to the floor, wires hanging from the roof empty. When I was there the week before, I saw around 20 or 25 cubicles of people, all working diligently. There had been a manager’s desk at the far back, and waiting area chairs with a table, all in one large room. To this day, I have no idea what happened. I just know that the entire business got out of there quick, in less than three days’ time.
25. Entirely Dependant
I work at a hospital on a medical-surgical floor. We have a two-part interview—one with the unit manager and one with either a nurse or an aide. We have a series of questions to ask based on a survey the applicant fills out at the end of the application. One applicant managed to make it through to me and there was a question that asked, “If you saw a co-worker doing something unethical, like stealing from a patient, what would you do?” Her response made my eyebrows shoot up.
“It depends if it was valuable or not, I mean who hasn’t stolen something before?” Needless to say, that was the end of the line for her.
26. Dress For Success
I was hiring in pharmaceutical sales. We were having a large launch for a newly approved product, so the company was hiring like 200 people nationwide. Because of this, the first step was a phone screen with us, then a video interview with the hiring manager. The final round involved panel interviews where they would meet with five individuals—Vice Presidents of Human Resources and Sales of each region, and Sales Directors for those territories.
Because of this, we were very strict with the interviews and who moved forward. That’s why it REALLY sucked when this guy went into his final panel interview and started doing magic tricks. Very seriously, too. He started pulling flowers from his sleeves, and he even tried to make an interviewer’s coffee disappear (but he ended up spilling it everywhere instead).
In that same round of hiring, we also had an individual who did his video call from his coffee table where he sat on the floor. When someone rang his doorbell, he asked politely if he could go answer the door in case it was an emergency. She said, “Sure, no big deal.” When the guy stood up, the interviewer gasped—he was wearing his tighty whities.
She didn’t say much about it when he came back, but needless to say, she couldn’t stop laughing when she told us about it.
27. I Pledge Allegiance To The Boss
I should have walked out in the middle of this interview, but I stayed there out of morbid curiosity. I wanted to see how low they would go, but I had made the decision early on in the process that I wasn’t actually going to work there. I’m glad I stayed for the whole thing in the end. It became QUITE an experience worth remembering.
The last thing that happened in the interview was the CEO personally asking us all to raise our right hands and promise that, if we ever make a mistake on the job, the company will calculate how much that mistake had cost us, and we will voluntarily pay the company that amount. Funny, I don’t recall them offering to pay us for any surplus our work earns…
28. She Can’t Come To The Phone…Ever Again
I once called a woman’s landline for a scheduled phone interview and her husband answered the phone. I introduced myself as the individual calling for her interview, but when I asked to speak with the wife, the husband hit me with a dark response. “She’s dead.” I had just spoken to her the day before to schedule and said I was so sorry…I hadn’t realized and I was so sorry for his loss.
He didn’t sound upset but he kept repeating that she was dead, trying to usher me off the phone. So I said I was so sorry and that I would cancel her interview. I also planned to pull her information from our system so no one else would accidentally follow up. I was starting to get the feeling that something wasn’t right, but still trying to be respectful. At one point, he started to backtrack and ask where I was calling from again.
I told him again what company I was calling from for our scheduled phone interview, and he suddenly pulled a 180. “Oh! I thought you were a telemarketer, she’s right here in the other room.” The wife was VERY angry with her husband, and he had been trying to convince me for about three or four minutes that she had passed away. It turned into one of the most awkward phone calls I have ever had.
For that and several other reasons, she did not move forward.
29. Break Time
One of the places I worked at once fired a new bartender barely three hours into his first training shift. Why you may ask? When the bartender training him sent him out for more ice, he didn’t return for over 20 minutes. Plus, when he did eventually resurface, he had no ice with him. The manager got weirded out and checked the cameras—what he saw made him livid.
He had spent his time rifling through bags in the staff area until he found a pack of smokes and a lighter, which he then took, and then went outside for a prolonged smoke break. My favorite part of this whole debacle was when he showed up a month later trying to return his staff uniform and “get back the money he paid for it.” The first uniform was free.
I once interviewed a candidate for an accounting position at the non-profit I was working for. It was early in my career, and I hadn’t conducted many interviews, so I was more nervous than the candidates. One applicant came in and, after introductions and shaking hands, I offered him a seat. Then, I took my own to begin the interview. When I looked up, I was immediately taken aback.
He was standing at attention. When I asked him to take his seat, he refused and referenced his military service. I tried to press forward and engage in a conversation, but the awkwardness of speaking to a tall person who was standing just a few feet away from me only grew. In the end, I thanked him for his service and eliminated him from my list.
31. Looking For The Link
I work in software development. As part of the interview process at my company, our candidates interview over Skype using a code-sharing website for them to complete a small and relatively simple problem. It helps weed out candidates who are dishonest on their resumes. In one of my interviews, I started with the usual introduction of myself, my role within the company, and so on.
I introduced her to the task and explained she would need to follow the link I would send her to access it. I pasted the link into the text window and explained to her how to access it, as some people haven’t used Skype before and don’t know how to access text chat in a video call. She smiled and asked me an odd question: “When you’re done, will you be writing the link on the whiteboard?” What whiteboard?
I looked behind me and remembered that yes, there was a small whiteboard behind me, and this woman was expecting me to handwrite the not-so-short link and she would read it off the webcam to type it into her browser. “No,” I explained, “I sent you the link within Skype itself. If you’ll just click…” I was forced to trail off as she reached forward and picked up her webcam, which I assumed was mounted to the top of her monitor.
I got a nice close-up of her eye as she peered inside the camera. I asked her what she was doing and her response stopped me in my tracks again. “Trying to find the link,” she replied. Dumbfounded, I once again explained that the link was sent over Skype and wouldn’t appear behind me nor on the webcam. She resumed the smile-and-nod routine as I asked her to follow my directions to access the Skype text chat window.
I asked her to wave her mouse cursor over my face until she saw some buttons appear. She took her hand off the mouse, raised it, and waved it over the screen. I explained to her again that she needed to use the mouse and she smiled and nodded again. After about 15 minutes of a 30-minute interview, she did finally discover the link in the Skype text chat, but she proceeded to type it into her browser by hand. She did not make it to the next round.
32. Talking To The Animals
I’m a vet tech. I once interviewed at a primary care, single doctor practice. The manager showed up more than 25 minutes late to my interview. While I waited for her, the front desk staff completely ignored me while they talked smack about the techs, manager, and clients. The manager said they did not believe in referring people’s pets to any specialists, because “Dr. A is a specialist in everything from grizzly bears to canaries.”
He was not. He hadn’t even done a rotating internship, and definitely had not done any type of residency program. I had already worked in a clinic with a toxic work atmosphere before, but at least the doctors at that one were competent at their jobs. When she asked if I had any questions, I knew exactly what to say. I just asked if I could have my resume back, so that we wouldn’t unnecessarily be wasting any paper.
Gotta think about the trees, even at a time like that!
33. Homemade Handiwork
I was doing a video interview with a candidate in a new office we were opening in another country. For background, it was for a tech company, so we were a bit informal, and I was wearing a company-printed t-shirt so you could easily see I have tattoos. This candidate called in a few minutes late, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt on that.
We started talking and discussing the role when I heard his doorbell ring. He got up immediately, yelling back to his computer that he would just be a moment. I could hear him let the dishwasher repair person in, and he started talking about all the problems with the dishwasher. I sat there entirely dumbfounded but decided to continue the interview out of sheer curiosity.
The candidate came back about five minutes later, answered some more of my questions, and then I asked what questions he had about the role so I could wrap it up. Apparently, this was what he was waiting for. He proceeded with, “It’s so cool that you’ve got tattoos! Did you do them yourself?” I replied, “No. Do you have any role-related questions?”
“Well, I’ve done all mine myself. Let me show you!” The candidate proceeded to take off his shirt and point out each of his tattoos, telling me how old he was when he did each one. He even pulled his pant legs up to his thigh to show what he had done on his legs. I was dumbfounded. He offered to send me his portfolio. He did not get the job.
34. The Fabric Of The Organization
I was 19 years old and pretty crafty. I thought it would be cool to work at a store that fit my interests. So, Jo-Ann Fabric, here I come! I get to the interview, and something just seemed off right from the start. I show up dressed nicely for the interview, yet I just got the stink eye from the manager. I am led back to the office, all the while the manager is trying to get me to tell her something.
I didn’t catch on until later in the interview. It was going well, and she seemed like she liked me and my experience. That is, until the little hints didn’t work. She straight up asked me if I was gay, and if my partner knew that I was here. I am a straight man. I was in shock, until I realized that she was being fully serious, and that I wasn’t getting any further in the interview if I didn’t tell her that I was gay right then and there.
Flabbergasted, I got up, told her I thought her preconceptions were going to hurt her, and left the room. It was by far the weirdest thing that I have experienced in an interview. After talking to others that worked there, I found out that all the other guys had straight up lied in order to get the job. She only hired gay guys because, in her opinion, straight guys wouldn’t know anything about crafts and were only there because they were trying to meet girls.
35. Baby, It’s Cold Outside
I had a guy bring his four-year-old to an interview. It was fine until he didn’t make him behave. It was the middle of January, and the kid continuously opened and closed the door while saying, “Oh Daddy, it’s cold outside.” I asked him to tell the kid to stop and he just kind of nodded at me and let him continue. It got to the point where I had to get up and lock the door.
The kid made a huge fuss and the dad completely ignored him. I got to listen to a screaming kid for the next 10 minutes. No hire.
36. She’s Driving Us Dental!
I was applying for a dental assistant job. The doctor conducting my interview kept talking and talking without giving me a chance to get a word in, and every sentence out of her mouth made the true state of the job seem much, much worse. And this is just stuff that she voluntarily admitted to! She signed up with dental assistant schools to get externs (i.e. unpaid interns), specifically because she wanted free labor.
She hired on a couple of them, and even after they found better jobs she coerced them into staying on with her for longer. Despite advertising a full-time position (which is 32 hours or more per week in dentistry), she said that this position was just three days a week. And with odd hours, too. Like some weeks would be two days a week, some days they would open at 10 in the morning.
Some days she will just leave early to do whatever with her four kids, and I would be expected to go home. It was all over the place. As for the mention of it being full time in the advertisements, she explained that away by saying that it “may become full time in the future” if I am able to “prove myself” to her. Umm, alright then? That’s a totally normal way to run an office!
Once it was clear that she wasn’t going to give me a chance to say anything, I just interrupted her, thanked her for her time, said I needed a full time position, and walked out. Except my nightmare was just beginning. This lady then followed me out the door! Yes, you read that right. She followed me out of her office, through her dental practice, and ultimately through the front door.
She was basically begging me to reconsider accepting the job, saying that it will definitely become full time in the future. Crazy. You better believe that I noped the heck out of there!
37. The Man
I got a resume that was just a link in the center of the page. We clicked on the link, and it brought us to the most pretentious website about the candidate. But the pièce de résistance? A video of him surrounded by girls while talking about how awesome he was. His reference was from some kind of general of a nation. We had an intern who was a classmate of his, and he basically said, “Yeah. He made up a lot of unbelievable stories in class.”
38. And Then There Were Fifteen
I went in for a job interview for an “Office Manager” position. When I arrived, there were 20 other people in the room waiting for interviews along with me. That raised a major flag, but I thought I’d roll with it anyway and see what was going on because I really needed some form of income. One by one, I started seeing people emerging from the interviewer’s office and being shuttled to the back room, where I could see a phone center set up. Their faces said it all.
They looked confused and dejected, like they were being led into a slaughterhouse and knew it, even though they were told it was a five-star restaurant. They pulled me in for my appointment and said that the position was cold-calling insurance sales. I confronted them about it immediately, and even pulled up the job description on my phone.
They said, “Well, if you sell really well, you can get a promotion to office manager at some point.” Get a promotion to become a glorified receptionist? No way in this lifetime am I wasting time on that, especially for shady characters like this. I flat out told them that they were unethical for lying to desperate people during a bad economy, and walked out.
I told the lady who had been sitting next to me that it was a scam before I left, and I’m pretty sure she walked out too. It was a crazy level of wrong and upsetting.
39. He Who Smelt It
While I was at an annual general meeting for a hotel, and I was interviewing a gentleman for a front desk position. He was incredibly calm during the interview and would have been a perfect fit. A while into the interview, though, there was a terrible smell. We were the only two people in the room, so I knew he was the one that let it slip.
No harm done. It happens and I wasn’t going to point it out even though it was a terrible smell. But then he looked at me and hit me with a curveball: “Um, do you need to go real quick?” He literally blamed me for his gas.
40. Parental Guidance
I had a candidate bring his mother into an interview. No, that’s not quite right. She wasn’t just there because he was her caretaker or anything, but as in she was actually trying to help him answer the questions. I asked her to leave and then told him directly that she was harming his career. He was fresh out of undergraduate, but that’s still pretty bad.
41. Fast To Be Turned Down
I am a hiring manager at a fast-food restaurant, but at the place I work, even as the Assistant Manager, I don’t have a uniform that distinguishes me from any other team member. We also operate with only a handful of people at a time, so I am on the floor doing the same work as the crew. A young man walked in, maybe 19 or 20 years old.
He was trying to get my attention while I was talking on my headset, taking an order, so I told him I would be with him in a moment. Rather than waiting, he decided to take a much different route. He leaned over the counter and half-yell, “CAN I GET A PEN?” with an application in his hand. I motioned to one that was on the counter, and he proceeded to fill out the application and hand it in.
He worked in fast-food before, for less than a month; but that should have been enough to know not to bug someone taking an order. Still, he had applied for a manager position despite having no previous management experience. For bonus points, he handed it to me with the same abrupt, loud obnoxiousness, “Give this to your manager please.”
I thought about throwing his application away in front of him, which I have done before for similar reasons, but I decided instead I would let him show up for his interview with me and explain to him in detail why he would not be getting a job. It’s a minor thing, but nobody wants to work with a punk who thinks he can treat people like that because they’re not a manager or, I guess, don’t look like one.
42. Someone Didn’t Get The Memo
One time a few years back, I was applying for a mailroom manager position at a company that has a growing presence in my area. I heard back and was offered an interview, so I went in for it. A very high-level person was leading the interview. She had flown in from the company’s headquarters in another state to help out with staffing this location, which was new and not open to the public yet.
A couple of local people were also present. It was going very strangely. All of the questions were incredibly easy. After not even 10 minutes in, she said to me: “Frankly, I have to ask. Why exactly do you want this job? You seem way too overqualified to be in this role.” I paused. Then I said “You know, your questions have kind of made me wonder if we’re discussing the same position. What job do you think I’m here about?”
She told me it was a job where I’d basically be a gopher, distributing mail, picking up people’s food, and acting as a courier. But mostly, I’d be waiting around for instructions and be available to do whatever task might be presented to me at any given time. It would also be lots of busy work that an admin assistant might do.
I pulled the job ad and my application for it up on my phone, and showed her what I thought I was there for. Mailroom manager. Turns out there was no such position. An error had been made. They had copied and pasted all the stuff from when a different location had opened, and applied it to this location, apparently overlooking the small fact that there was no need for a mailroom manager this time around.
I was told that the operation at this location was not large enough to warrant a mailroom, let alone warrant hiring a manager to oversee one. That job was never supposed to have been posted online. Nobody knew that it had been, except me apparently. And nobody knew how I’d even made it to this point in the hiring process without it being pointed out that the job did not exist.
I’m guessing that a lot of it was automated and then finalized by someone out of the loop in another state. She was irritated. Not with me, of course. She apologized, took my information, and said that she was impressed enough with me to find me something somewhere in the company to try and apply for, but she didn’t know what yet. Unfortunately, I never did hear back from her.
43. Just A Lazy Afternoon
I went in for a job interview to become a content writer for a website. I met the team, sat in on some brainstorming meetings, and learned all about the place. It was a pretty fun and interesting experience, and the people were all very nice. Then, at the end of the day, the boss takes me for the more formal part of the interview and says “Frankly, I don’t know why they set up this interview. We don’t have money to hire anyone right now.”
Thanks, I really didn’t need those six hours to do any real job hunting…
44. The Old Switcharoo
This happened fairly recently. I made it to the third interview for a large company. The first two, they told me what my role would be, and quoted me figures for my base pay and commission. They also told me they were so excited to have me on board because of my experience. So I sit down for the third interview. They once again go over my role, my pay, etc.
They say they’re prepared to offer me that job right now and have had the paperwork ready since this morning. BUT THEN. They say “But we already hired someone for that. So instead what we’d like you to do is…” and proceeded to tell me that the pay was less than half of what they were already offering me prior, for a lot more work.
Basically, in a matter of minutes, I went from being offered a long-term management job to just being asked to train all the new employees that they had just hired and then stepping down to cashier for $10 per hour. And no guaranteed hours. I stood up and told them “I was worried that I was wasting your time prior to this interview, because I wasn’t entirely sold on the job yet.
“But after today, it’s become pretty apparent that you guys were the ones wasting my time instead. No thank you.” And I left. About an hour later, I got a phone call asking for a fourth interview. They called me almost every single day for the next two weeks, asking me to come back and talk to the owner about the situation. I never responded.
45. Not Exactly Picasso
At the time this happened, I was running a painting crew. This guy begged me for a few hours of work, said nothing was beneath him and needed a real paycheck to get his parole officer off his back. I told him, “I have a bunch of grunt work you can do; I’ll pay you fairly but the work sucks and I can’t promise you a role as a painter. If you want this, you need to prove yourself as a hard worker.”
He said, “No problem! When can I start?” I told him to show up the next day, with clothes he could get dirty, and plenty of water. When the next day rolled around, he showed up 45 minutes late, and he was all dressed up. It was not a good first impression, but I gave the kid a chance. I set him up with a five-in-one tool and about 20 m² (200 ft²) to scrape old paint off of.
Even for a new guy, it was at best four hours of work. I checked up on him after about 45 minutes. I immediately raised my eyebrows. He had scraped about a quarter of a square meter (3 ft²) of the area and was texting when I walked down. I retrained him, gave him a specific target for the next hour, and left. I came back an hour later. He was still texting.
He had done half of what I asked him to and he was acting like he had done me a favor. I told him, “This is unskilled labor. All you need to do is move your tool over the old paint. You aren’t keeping up. I don’t want to see you on your phone again.” The third time I came to check on him, he was sitting down texting in the shade.
I asked, “What’s up?” He said, “Scraping paint sucks, when do I get to be a painter?” I explained to him, “I didn’t need any painters. I hired you as a favor, pick up the pace.” I drew a line and told him, “I expect you to finish scraping this in the next hour.” I came back down an hour later. He was texting. He had accomplished about 25% of what I had asked. He asked me if I had any water and then asked when lunch was.
I told him, “Lunch is right now, and a storm is coming, so take the next few days off.” I swung by his house with a paycheck for the few hours he had worked that day and told him I found a more experienced guy and wished him the best. A few weeks later, he asked me to launder his substance-dealing profits into paychecks from my company and he would give me the grand rate of 5 dollars for every 200 dollars I paid out to him. I declined. He’s a successful real estate agent now, but I’d never buy a house from him.
46. Jumping To Conclusions
I was returning to work after lunch, and I was about to pull into my usual space when I was cut off by a very rude gentleman who told me to go park with the secretarial pool where I “belonged.” I brushed it off, parked elsewhere, and went to my office. Ten minutes later, I had my sweet revenge. The same gentleman walked in. I was the Senior Director about to interview him for a manager position.
47. Silence Isn’t Always Golden
Years ago, I went to a job interview and sat down with the man who was to interview me. First, I sat in complete silence while he read something on his computer for a few minutes. I then waited for a minute or so while he looked over my resume. It was a small business, and he is the same person who called me to set up the interview.
He’d had the resume at his disposal for a few days and invited me in, so I’m not sure why he had to start reading it from scratch at this point. He finally looked up at me and said, “Well, I’m not sure why you applied for this job. You really don’t have any of the skills or experience that I’m looking for.” I saw red. He was just so arrogant and I felt like he was trying to make a power move to set me up to accept a lowball offer.
I didn’t apply to any job that I wasn’t qualified for. I know that for a fact. I was just instantly annoyed that he was trying to play games with me. I calmly said, “Then I’m not sure why you‘re wasting my time inviting me here for an interview.” I then stood up and started walking towards the door. He suddenly panicked and jumped up.
He said something like, “Oh, no, let’s talk about it!” But I told him I wasn’t interested in working for him anymore. I had a job already, so I wasn’t desperate to just take anything that was available. I wasn’t terribly happy with my current job, so I would have preferred to have taken something new. But I really didn’t feel like leaving one bad situation for another equally bad one by putting up with this guy’s nonsense.
48. A Strange Sense Of Humor
I was doing an interview for a job at a computer programming company, and it had gone well so far for the most part. Then we get to the point where we’re talking about money. They quote me a yearly salary, and I quickly do the math in my head. I determine that it sounds like a reasonable hourly wage. But before I can even respond, they immediately follow up their statement with: “Realistically, you’ll be working 60 to 80 hours per week.”
I reply: “Will everything over 40 hours in a week be compensated with overtime pay?” They both immediately started chuckling incredulously. That was when I knew it was time to leave.
49. Bait And Switch
I walked out of a second interview. The promised advertised wage for the position had been abruptly modified due to a “recent budget change.” The new figure was substantially lower than what was promised on the ad and in my first interview. It was for an Assistant Manger’s role at a local cinema, which I thought would have been a lot of fun.
I thanked them for wasting my time and walked out. I spent the rest of my afternoon enjoying a Five Guys hamburger.
50. Wiki Know-How
I was doing a phone interview, and every time I asked a question that was related to the skills required for the job, there would be this huge pause before they would all of a sudden just start rattling all kinds of facts off. If they actually knew the answer to that level of detail, it wouldn’t take 15 to 20 seconds for them to start answering questions. I figured out what was going on in seconds.
At one point, I brought up the Wikipedia page for the subject on my phone while she answered, and I silently followed along with her as she pretty much read it out to me. This was my first phone interview ever, so my boss was sitting in with me. Afterward, he told me that he nearly closed the interview by saying, “Well, you have a good Wikipedia-level understanding of things, but you’re not quite what we’re looking for.”
51. Getting Straight To The Point
I moved to a new city and tried finding a job in my preferred area. I went to an interview where I sat down with two well-polished ladies, who were the company owners. One of the women said, “Glad you could make it! Now, before we really begin, I see where you were being paid X amount per hour at your last job. I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to pay you that much.”
I immediately smiled, stood right back up, and said, “Thank you for not further wasting any of my time.” The shocked look on both their faces was priceless as I skedaddled on out of there. They were probably expecting some kind of negotiation attempt from me. But honestly, any person who opens an interview with that kind of statement deserves a walkout.
52. Lights, Camera, Exaggeration!
Several years back, I had the misfortune of interviewing a fellow for a role in a film shoot. Although the production technically had someone in charge of screening resumes, they were far better versed in the recruiting process than they were in what qualifications were necessary for the job. As a result, less than half an hour before I was supposed to meet with an applicant, I was handed a document that would have made most pathological liars blush.
According to the resume, my interviewee had been an “uncredited consultant” on over a hundred feature films. While there certainly are cases in which a given worker goes uncredited—it has even happened to me—the sheer magnitude of the fellow’s claim went well beyond the realm of believability. Furthermore, the guy had listed quite a few alleged skills that seemed to suggest a less-than-complete knowledge of the industry.
My favorite claim was that he had “expert-level apple box skills.” For the record, an “apple box” is literally a wooden box. That’s it. There are a few different sizes, and they’re used whenever something needs to be stacked on top of a box. I went ahead with the interview anyway, if only because I was curious about how the guy would back up his various claims.
He turned out to be maybe 20 years old, which was far too young to have worked on many of the films that he had listed. When pressed, he explained that he had “consulted” on each of them by writing letters to the people involved in the productions, in which he outlined several suggestions on various things. Suffice to say, he didn’t get the job, though I’m certain that he listed himself as an “uncredited consultant” on it, simply because he attended the interview.
53. Overly Aggressive
So, it CAN BE a good idea to call and check in on your application but don’t call the store and ask the owner if he has looked at your application ONE HOUR AFTER YOU LEFT IT. This person actually called three times throughout the day, and each time we told her, “The owner will review your application tonight after we close, as this is the busiest time of year for us.” She lost her chances because she wouldn’t stop bugging us.
54. Social Etiquette
We were a really close team of young analysts doing very team-based work. When we were hiring for this position, we knew we would be working extremely closely with whoever we hired, so we checked all social media platforms just to see what type of people they were and if we’d be able to stand them. This guy was a fresh graduate and in one of his profile pictures, we couldn’t believe what he was wearing.
It was a willie costume and he was holding a brew in his hand. We immediately thought he’d be immature. We told our boss to just disqualify him right off the bat but somehow, we still ended up interviewing him. He had looked us up on LinkedIn and then proceeded to grill me and my co-worker on how we got our jobs. Since neither of us had economic degrees, he implied that we didn’t know what we were doing.
So that interview ended early.
55. He’s Got Skills
I once received a resume for an entry-level position that was, on its face, relatively mediocre. It listed small, short-term jobs, limited education, and no experience in related fields. I was about to chuck it in my rainy-day pile when I noticed something strange. In the “additional skills section,” it listed the normal Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.
And then it listed, “And I’m pretty good at beatboxing.” I immediately called my supervisor, who was about my same age and a chill boss and proceeded to read him the resume, including his unique skills list. He concurred with me that we needed to co-interview this guy if only to see this skill. So, I called up his references, who all sang his praises like they wanted him to be their biological son, and set up the interview.
We proceeded with the interview. He did well. I called my boss into the room. We leaned forward in our chairs. We told him we saw his listed skills and that we wanted him to prove his abilities. The guy briefly hesitated, but then busted out a crazy, fast, multi-layered beat. There were fake synth noises from his nasal cavity, muting and echoing with his hands, throat noises for a base beat, all done in just about 10 seconds of a wall of sound.
We hired the guy on the spot, even though he already had the job anyway. He ended up being one of our best employees. I’ve since moved on, but I went back recently for a little freelance work and the kid is still there and has been promoted several times. Lesson learned: If you want a good employee, don’t shy away from strange. Also, “pretty good at beatboxing” is the best skill you can list on any resume I see from now on.
56. But Tell Us How You Really Feel
I finished up four hours of grueling interviews in their offices. Everything seemed to be going really well. They liked me, as far as I could tell. Then, in a completely casual manner, I posed a simple question to three of the software engineers who happened to be in the room with us at the time: “Do you enjoy working here?”
I quickly realized that I was one of three people that the company was looking for to replace them. They were quite unhappy.
57. Turn Of The Screw
I was hiring for a Calibration Technician position. It’s a bit of a niche job, so I didn’t expect too many applicants to have experience. One candidate came in and took a test before the interview. It has basic questions about various things we do in our daily work. She didn’t do well. We talked for a little bit, and nothing really stood out about her one way or another.
We walked around the plant a bit and I asked the question she had spent maybe a minute preparing for: “Do you have any calibration experience?” Her answer ticked me off: “It’s just turning a screw, I can do that!” She Googled “calibration,” skimmed one of the first results, and was completely confident she was perfect for the job.
We wrapped up our interview while I tried to maintain my best poker face. She obviously didn’t get the job. Please just be honest. I’m going to train you. Prove to me that you are trainable and that I can believe what you tell me. The guy we have now didn’t know anything about calibration, but he’s humble, honest, eager to learn, and isn’t afraid to ask questions.
58. Phone Etiquette
I once called a guy for his scheduled phone interview and he answered the phone as if he thought I was a telemarketer. He was incredibly rude and asked who I was at least three times before understanding I was calling to interview him. After realizing his mistake, he wasn’t even apologetic for yelling at me. It was a tense interview, and he did not move forward.
59. Always Be Nice
I’m a lobby guard, so I don’t conduct any interviews. However, I have had interviewers ask me how the interviewee behaved in the lobby while they were waiting. Most just sit there twiddling their thumbs nervously, but nine times out of 10, those who ask me questions about the company and the team they are interviewing for are hired, and 10 out of 10 times people who are genuinely rude to me are never hired.
60. Take This One Sitting Down…
At one job interview that I had, I showed up and the manager practically bragged about how the job offered no breaks for an eight-hour shift. She added that if there was a food break during the day, it would be five minutes max, at a hip-height table with no chairs. She also said that you’d be fired if you sat down even for 30 seconds during the work day.
I’m more than capable of doing that. I did that every day at my last job. But when you brag about how your employees are so overworked that they don’t get breaks or an option to rest their legs, it tells me all I need to know about how little you value other human beings. I should also note that this job wasn’t paying exceptionally well. Above minimum wage, but not at a level that was even enough to live comfortably on.
61. Put To The Test
This guy was applying to be a teacher’s assistant whose main duty would be to help grade papers. He had to analyze a one-page essay. It took him over two hours to complete it. This is waayyyy too long, but at first I thought it’s not too bad of a thing to have someone trying too hard. Nope. He handed in the essay and there were only two notes: he took off a comma and added a period.
62. And Now, Our Feature Presentation
I was out of university for a few months and was looking for any kind of job, since staying home was getting horrendously boring. I surf through some online job boards to find a part-time job where I would get paid $15 per hour for selling water filters. I said, “Hey, not bad!” The ad also explicitly says that the pay is weekly. I apply and get the interview.
The interviewer confirms what the job post said regarding the payment, and then gets the applicants into a room to watch a quite lengthy presentation about the company. And when I say quite lengthy, I mean the length of a feature Hollywood movie. Afterward, we all got sheets to finalize everything and insert our desired working times. That is where I notice it.
The sheet says something along the lines of, “Employees will only be paid after a filtering unit has been successfully sold,” and that our first checks would only come after a month of preliminary working. I’d say about 80% of the interviewees just walked out at that point, including myself. Who in their right mind would say yes to a deal like that?
63. Know Your Stuff
I was doing a tech screen phone interview, and you could tell the guy was Googling his heart out every time we asked a question. He would say, “Hmm, let me think about that for a second.” The background ambient noise would cut off, and then he’d come back on a second later and start reading off answers from the top Google result.
64. You Know You Make Me Wanna Shout
I attended one job interview where the guy who was interviewing me abruptly interrupted the interview to scream at one of his employees. Like, literal red in the face screaming and berating the guy right in front of me, over some random task that he wanted the guy to have done a little bit differently. And then he tried to just pick up the conversation where we left off, like it was nothing. No thank you.
65. Ultimate References
One applicant had Barack and Michelle Obama for his references, including the White House address and a phone number that I doubt was theirs at all. He also listed that he “found a cure for cancer” in his achievements. The team had a good laugh about it for a second and then threw out his resume. I regret not trying out those reference numbers though.
66. A Hair-Raising Story
I once got in an interview with a small company that I thought would be a very good fit for the kind of work that I was hoping to do. I got very excited when I saw that my interview for the job was going to be directly with the owner of the company. Let’s just say that things at the interview did not turn out exactly as I envisioned that they were going to…
I arrived at the facility and sat down with the owner. The first thing that he immediately said, before even saying so much as a hello, was: “I just want to let you know that I don’t hire people with beards.” In case you couldn’t guess, I have a beard. Umm, excuse me? So you’re saying I have to change my entire personal appearance in order to work for you?
Yeah, no thanks. I just said okay, got up, and walked straight out the door. And I never looked back. I’m happy to report that my beard is still safe and sound on my chin, and I love it as much as ever!
67. Pirate’s Life For Me
While I was a manager of a Blockbuster, I asked an applicant if he had any questions. He looked me right in the eye and asked, “How do you handle people copying the DVDs? Is there a system in place here that can detect it?” I was dumbfounded. That was pretty much a giveaway as to why he was there. Later, I found out what he had done and I just shook my head.
He often frequented other rental outlets, rented multiple DVDs at a time, and returned them the same day.
68. Shopping Around
I worked as a bagger for a major grocery store chain when I was about 16 years old. One day, I was approached while on the job by a guy who asked me if I would be interested in making $1,100 a week. I said I was potentially interested in hearing more. He told me to meet him at one of the empty businesses in the same plaza after work.
When I arrived, he went on this long spiel about the melaleuca tree from Australia and how his company made soaps and shampoo out of it. He then told me that, for a $500 fee, he would train me in how to sell these products. I just turned and walked out the door with him yelling behind me that I would never amount to anything with my attitude.
I’ve been on several hiring committees, and once we were attempting to hire for a programmer position. One of the candidates was asked something to the tune of, “A user has experienced a bug with some software you’ve written, how do you handle the situation?” The candidate’s answer was abysmal. “I would take the software back to the vendor and ask them to fix the bug.”
As the programmer, it would have been his job to document and fix the bug. Overall, it wasn’t a nail in the coffin, but considering this candidate had no programming experience and no knowledge of any individual programming language, it was enough to make us pass on this particular person.
70. Contract Tracing
I worked as a permanent software developer for six years after university before deciding to quit to do contract work instead, for better pay and more flexibility. I put myself out there and found a three-month contract role that looked like it would be a pretty good fit for me. I was due to start in a week’s time. Oh happy days!
In the meantime, I got approached by a recruiter offering me an interview for a permanent role. So I said no thanks, and politely explained to her that I was only interested in contract roles. I also informed her that I had found a contract role now that I was happy with, and that I was no longer looking for employment opportunities.
I told her to thank the company for its interest, but to tell them that I was definitely off the market for at least the next three months. A few days later, the recruiter came back to me and said that the company was really interested in me and that they frequently use contractors too, so they would like to interview me anyway as they might be able to offer me contract work in three months’ time when I was back on the open market.
So the next day, I get dressed up all smart and drive an hour through heavy morning traffic to go to the interview at their office, which turned out to be in a pretty lousy location. As soon as I sat down, the very first question they asked me was: “What would your availability be like if you were offered this role?” I was confused, so I asked them to clarify.
They said: “How soon would you be able to start working for us if we offered you this role? I said: “I’m starting a three month contract next week.” They said: “Why have you come to interview for this permanent job then?” I said: “I haven’t. I said I wasn’t interested in it, and the recruiter told me to come anyway because you use contractors too and are interested in using me in future.”
They said: “No, that’s not true. We’ve never used contractors before, and we’re only interested in looking for someone permanent to start as soon as possible.” I said: “Right, then. Okay, goodbye now!” The contract role that I’d already secured paid almost as much in three months as this job did in an entire year. But the recruiter thought if he could just trick me into going to the interview then maybe I would change my mind and take his crummy role instead.
I was interviewing a candidate to fill a truck driver position and spontaneously, I asked how long the candidate has been driving for. Surprise! He didn’t know how to drive.
72. Young At Heart
I’m in my 30s, but I look like I’m in my 20s. I applied to work at a music store and got an interview. The place was an independently owned shop in Mineola, New York. It was run by some very eccentric old guy. At the interview, he didn’t believe that I was even in my 20s. He thought I was a teenager lying about my age and demanded to call my parents and high school to get their permission to hire me.
So, out the door I was…
During an interview, one gentleman stated that he lost his previous job because of an incident he instigated during work. His reason was that he didn’t have control over himself because his “microchip” had been hacked. He then went on to say that he can generate energy by putting copper around his wrists and ankles to “charge up.”
74. Saving For A Rainy Day
I once went to a job interview for a large welding shop in the middle of a rainstorm. After talking to the interviewer for 30 minutes or so, he walked me out to the shop floor to take a welding test. What I saw made my blood run cold. The machine we went to was in decent condition, but it was literally sitting in a puddle of water.
The welding table’s legs were rusty and not grounded well, and also in said puddle. Over half of the shop was flooded. I turned around and said “No thank you.” I then proceeded to walk out the door. My life is worth more than $20 an hour.
75. Your Problem Now
I heard about a parent who took their child somewhere to fill out an application. While the kid was filling out the application, the parent struck up a conversation with the manager, saying how their kid is lazy, disrespectful, and never listened. They told them how they want this job to whip their kid into shape. After they left, the manager tossed out the kid’s application.
76. Oh, You Were Serious About That?
I walked out of the third interview with a particular company after they offered me a sales job that paid less and offered fewer benefits than both my previous job and what I had presented myself as being interested in working for. This was after I was completely clear about my wage expectations during the first two interviews. I thanked them on the way out for wasting both of our time.
77. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
I told the hiring manager that I couldn’t start right away because I would like to give more than just two weeks’ notice at my current job as a courtesy. He immediately raised his voice with me and said “Everyone is replaceable, and they’ll find that out!” Yea, that seems like a good mentality for your boss to have. I think I’ll look elsewhere. Later tater!
78. Raise A Little Heck
The interviewer asked me: “What would you do if an employee of 15 years asked you for a raise?” I replied: “I’d remind him that he already gets a yearly raise…” His answer was beyond belief. The interviewer told me: “Actually, I don’t give out raises. That’s our company policy.” Oh, well silly me! You can be I got the heck out of there as fast as I possibly could.
79. Doggy Daycare
I’m a manager of a dog daycare. I always have my dog in with us when we do interviews just to see the interviewee’s general response to dogs. One girl recoiled in disgust when my dog walked up and nuzzled into her. We didn’t hire her, because again…this was a DAYCARE for DOGS. What did she think she was doing there in the first place?
80. An Unusual Approach
I was interviewing for a commission-based sales job selling kitchen knives. The interviewer pulled out a knife to show it to me, and it completely fell apart in his hands. I am also not a salesperson by background. So yea, I moved on because a guy who doesn’t know how to sell trying to sell a product that doesn’t work didn’t seem like the best career move for my future…
81. Water In The Hole
I once did a job interview for what turned out to be a classic, textbook pyramid scheme. It had been advertised as a “sales and marketing” job, so I thought it was something that I might be interested in. It was a group interview. To try and dazzle us into joining, they served us fancy wine for crying out loud! They also had obvious stooges initiating conversations about how great this opportunity was.
I took full advantage of the free drinks. I got very intoxicated and stopped being polite about it.
82. Thanks, But No Thanks
I started the interview by saying, “So tell me a little about yourself.” Unbelievably, she replied, “Are you hitting on me?” All I said after that was, “Thanks for coming in.”
83. The Work-Around
I once had a candidate bring up an illegal gambling habit. He used it as a way to show how good he was at working around rules and reading situations. Not the best example to use during an interview.
84. Background Checks
The applicant listed several non-profit community organizations that he had served as a volunteer. It was really impressive until I made a disappointing discovery—those entities didn’t even exist. Apparently, he thought that being associated with charitable groups would strengthen his resume and that they would never be contacted for verification.
85. Shoe In
When I managed a retail store, it wasn’t uncommon for people to bail on job interviews with last-minute or no notice. But there was only ever one person who did not show up for the interview and then called the next week asking if they got the job.
86. Will The Real Rogers Place Contractors Please Stand Up?
I showed up for a construction and trades workers “hiring event,” hoping to get a job opportunity out of it. I’m a plumber by trade and finding work was bleak as heck in my city at the time, so I went to the event with seriously high hopes. Everything looked completely legit until they sat us down to speak about the work scope.
They claimed to be one of the companies that were building “Rogers Place” in Edmonton, a major Canadian sporting venue which was the single biggest real estate development project in the region at this time. After they gave us some sketchy details about their involvement in the project, they said: “However, if you don’t want to help our teammates who are working on that project, you can also do….”
They then started speaking about how to do door-to-door sales of mostly chocolate in the higher-end communities around the city. They talked about construction for maybe 15 minutes maximum, throughout the entire conference. The rest of the time they spent talking exclusively about door-to-door chocolate sales, and UNICEF fundraising, and how we can have an income of $150,000 or more a year by doing this stuff with them.
I left probably 20 minutes into that because I realized how ridiculous the whole thing was. Meanwhile, I had a friend who champed it out and stayed the entire time just to see what would happen. The stories he told me after the event were hilarious. Ironically, 30 minutes after I left, I got a call from a company that actually was a legitimate contractor on the Rogers Place job.
I ended up working for them for more than four years. They were so much better than these guys would have been!
87. Problem Solving
I once had a job interview at a bar. During the very first part of the conversation, the owner of the bar told me that if I get the job, I should never approach him with a problem because he generally doesn’t like dealing with things. He added that I probably wouldn’t like the way he fixed it anyway. That was a major red flag in my book. I did not continue with the interview process beyond that point.
88. Excuses, Excuses
I worked in onboarding for a while. My job was to basically just put people who other folks hired through the hiring process. One guy who got hired wouldn’t answer any of my calls, emails, or text messages. Then, in reply to emails from the hiring manager, this guy said I hadn’t attempted to contact him at all. The hiring manager sat two desks over from me and had listened to me leaving voicemails for three days. The guy promptly lost all chances at the job when he accused me of not doing my job.
89. Goal Keeper
A while back, I was looking for a job and was in an interview for a clothing store customer service representative position. Once they started talking about meeting sales goals, I told her politely that I didn’t think it was a good fit and left. Nothing about “sales goals” was ever mentioned in the ad or any of the other postings about the job online…
I will never do the whole “sales goals” thing again. That’s all, plain and simple. It is a pretty demoralizing way to live when you can’t hit your goals and then because of that you must listen to managers say “Don’t take no for an answer” or “Get three nos before accepting,” and yadda yadda yadda. Why would I want to treat customers like that, not to mention make my own job so stressful?
No means no, dude. It’s gross and I’ll never do it again.
90. Come On, Baby, Light My Fire
I knew a guy who went to an interview and the interviewer was reading a newspaper. The interviewer peered over the newspaper and said, “Excite me,” to the candidate, who then proceeded to do just that. His next move was absolutely shocking—he immediately pulled out a lighter and lit the bottom of the newspaper the interviewer was holding. That has to go down as the most memorable interview mess-up I can think of.
91. A Last Minute Change To The Lineup
I did not quite walk out of this particular interview, but I told them that I did not have the skills they wanted, which sealed the deal. This was right after college. I was applying for a job as an assistant buyer for a large retail corporation. I was very eager to get the job. After two or three rounds of interviews, I finally got to interview with two buyers that I liked a lot.
If I had gotten the job, these two would have been my direct managers, so a lot was riding on this next interview. I really enjoyed the first part of the interview. They seemed to like me too, but they must have picked other people, because I was soon invited again to interview with yet another buyer. She came into the room, did not look at me, and did not shake my hand.
She sat to the side of the table, even though there was a seat right in front of me, and started asking me questions with a super sulky and disinterested tone. At that point, I realized that I would have hated to work for her, and so I told her that I did not have the skills she was looking for. I originally thought it was stupid because it closed my doors to other opportunities at the company, but in retrospect I think it was a very smart decision on my part.
Who needs people like that!
92. The Devil’s In The Details
They spelled my name wrong on their internal documents, all the while emphasizing to me how important attention to detail was at this company. On top of that, they kept asking me the same exact question in about 12 different ways. As if that isn’t dumb enough in and of itself, the answer that they were looking for was clearly listed in my work experience on my resume.
This was for a thermal engineering position. They offered a tour of the facility while the person I was to work under finished up a meeting. I declined and left.
93. Radio Gaga
This was not so much a walk out per se, but we both knew that it was over. It was an interview with Radio Shack around 1990. I was a home stereo geek and was looking for the next college job. I did an interview with a regional manager for a slot in one of his stores. The interview went well. Finally, he asked if I had any questions.
He explained that there was a base rate, close to minimum wage, but that salespeople were “expected” to exceed that with their commissions on sales made. He went on to tell me that the vacant position was due to someone being fired because they couldn’t do this on a consistent basis. He then asked me: “How do you feel about that?” I replied: “Well, I can’t say that I’m confident enough about your product line for that to make me very happy.” Yeah, it was over at that point.
94. Technically Not A Lie!
I went in for a job interview for a position that was advertised as “above minimum wage.” They wanted someone to manage sales, ordering, and scheduling for a print shop. I could do all those things. The interview went well and we both seemed to like each other. That is, until the pay discussion came up. They made me an offer: 25 cents over minimum wage.
I literally yelled “I put on nice clothes for this??” as I walked out the door.
95. Too Judgemental
I had a guy who reluctantly told me he used to work at an adult shop. To try and save him from feeling weird, I told him that my wife has always found it fascinating and would love to work in one. His response was, “Well isn’t she a weirdo.”
86. Cleanup On Aisle One
I bowed out of a third interview for a fancy title role which I was arguably qualified for, but it was the highest-positioned role I’d ever applied for and also the only one I’d ever gotten an interview for. I definitely had high hopes for this job, but I decided to cut the interview short when it became increasingly clear the place was a hotbed of mismanagement and likely wanted, at best, someone to solve entrenched structural problems and at worst, a fall guy.
I was not interested in taking the blame for someone else’s incompetence. Not even for a fancy title.
97. Baby You Can Drive My Car
I applied for a cash register position at Pizza Hut. I specifically told them during my two interviews that I cannot be a delivery driver due to my car being unreliable. They even acknowledged that and told me it was okay. I got the job and came in for training on the first day. The very first thing they do is sit me down in a chair and start up a training video on delivery driving.
I asked them if I could skip it since I’m only working the register and in the kitchen, and the manager tells me that every position is a delivery driver. I walked out right then and there, and got paid for one hour of training.
98. Walking Away
I have a story to share on this subject. It was a virtual interview and I ended it in the middle. The interviewer was a complete jerk right from the start. He had a huge ego, and kept making condescending remarks towards me. After the third or fourth one, I just told him that it sounds like he’s not interested in working together, so in the interest of both our time we should just end the call.
And that’s exactly what we did. I didn’t realize this was such a big deal, but everyone that I’ve told this story to has said that they found it very inspiring. I want to put it out there that this is something that everyone should feel comfortable doing when in similar situations. Don’t let anyone treat you poorly! Just walk away calmly with your head held high, my kings and queens!
99. The Valedictorian
I once received a resume that stated they were a “valid Victorian.” Either they were trying to say they were at the top of their class, or they were a genuine person from 19th century England—neither of which was true.
100. Only A Little Messed Up
I used to hire people for a non-profit organization. We had an application from someone who had the degree the job required, but she was in prison in Louisiana. She was going to be out soon, and she was trying to find a job for when she got out. I thought this was really good for her, but there were some convictions that would rule her out for this job, so I didn’t want to waste her time.
I told her that there was a background check, and some things would rule her out. I asked: “For the sake of expediency, would you like to tell me something about your conviction? ” Her response sent chills up my spine. “Yeah, it was murder.” “OK. You were convicted of murder?” This definitely ruled her out for the job. “Yeah. It was a really messed up deal.” That was it.
She’d been in prison for twelve years, and the best summary she could come up with was, “It was a really messed up deal.” I mean, say it was self-defense? Say he was abusive? Say he was attacking someone else? Say something? You’re carrying a murder conviction around—probably the most important sentence you’ll ever speak is the single first sentence you say after someone finds out about that. You get one sentence.
Convince me you’re actually a decent person, okay? Great! Go! “It was a really messed up deal.”
101. This Little Piggy Went To Market
I had been told it was a marketing job that I was applying for. The first interview was about marketing and took place in an office. I got a call back and was very happy, as it meant I’d be able to get out of working in a call center and do something I actually liked. I took my last remaining day off that I was entitled to at my old job in order to go to the next interview for this.
When I got there, they said they wanted me to go to the local Home Depot store with them. I got there and made a disturbing realization. This whole thing was just a multi-level marketing pyramid scheme (also known as an MLM). I was so stunned that I let them take me out on the floor and show off the aggressive sales technique they wanted me to use on random customers.
I walked out crying because now I had no days off left for other interviews and I was ashamed to have been tricked by the first interview into thinking this whole thing was legitimate.
102. Fritz The Cat
We have to substance test all candidates before they can actually be hired. One time, the test results came back, and it was cat urine. And the cat urine had tested positive.
103. Surprise Me!
I attended one job interview where they wanted me to sign a blank sheet of paper. I don’t think alarm bells have ever gone off in my head quite that fast. No thanks! I immediately got up and walked away.