Starting a career can be challenging. The application process, interviews, and meeting the new boss can be stressful. From the depths of Reddit, hiring managers, bosses, and employees emerged from the shadows to tell their worst experiences when looking for the perfect candidate. Here are some sure-fire ways to ruin your chance at receiving that job offer:
1. 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.
2. 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 peculiar 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.
3. 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. But 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.”
4. 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.
5. 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 another odd fact about him—he was not a new hire and had like 12 years experience at another company. I’m not sure how you can make it 12 years when refusing to work with or talk to women.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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 took 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.
12. 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 was a huge red flag. “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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.”
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.
20. 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.
21. 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 baffled me. “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.
22. 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.
23. 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. He handed the essay and there were only two notes: he took off a comma and added a period.
24. 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.
25. 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.”
26. 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.
27. He Who Smelt It
While I was at an annual general meeting for a hotel, 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, 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.
28. 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 dead 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 dead giveaway 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.
One of the biggest mistakes is when you refuse to say, “I don’t know.” Usually, our interviews for software engineers are set up to increase the difficulty of the questions until it’s really unlikely and unexpected that the candidate will be able to answer them. It’s entirely expected that, eventually, the candidate will have to say, “I don’t know the answer to that.” From there, we explore how you might find out, etc.
This is an important thing to discover about someone because, inevitably in our line of work, something comes up where you don’t know the answer and have to figure it out or learn it. If the candidate persists in some kind of smear of nonsense instead of just admitting ignorance, that’s a big red flag. Nobody knows everything, and the true judge of a software engineer’s competence is how and how well they learn something new, not so much what they already know.
30. Parental Guidance
I had a candidate bring his mother into an interview. Not just there, but as in 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.
31. 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.
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.
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.
During an interview, one gentleman stated that he lost his previous job because of an incident he instigated. 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’.
35. 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 the rude 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.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.”
41. 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.
42. Wiki Know-How
I was doing an 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.
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.”
43. 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 twenty 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.
44. 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 out jobs. Since neither of us had economic degrees, he implied that we didn’t know what we were doing.
So that interview ended early.
45. 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.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. 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.”
50. 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.
51. 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.
52. 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.
53. Glitter Explosion
I worked at a non-profit 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. But what really caught our attention was her letter of interest 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.
54. 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 the shocking thing to me was that 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?
55. 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.