Hiring Managers Reveal The Worst Things They Discovered When They Googled Their Applicants

October 8, 2023 | Miles Brucker

Hiring Managers Reveal The Worst Things They Discovered When They Googled Their Applicants

Hiring employees for a business can be an excellent way to provide sustenance for people while getting a useful service for yourself in return—that is, assuming the right candidates are the ones hired.

For every successful job applicant, there are probably several who did not get the job--and some for very good reasons. Let’s just say that not everyone to ever apply for a job was, shall we say, fully qualified. And in the age of the internet, it is easier than ever to get a more complete picture of what one will be getting from a candidate along with the details offered on the resume.

Here’s 42 examples of job applicants who, with a little help from the internet, turned out not to be anywhere near a perfect fit.

Hiring Managers factsBelephant

42. Lady, Get Over Him Already

I used to manage a group home for developmentally disabled adults. I was in charge of hiring the staff that we needed to make the house run properly. I saw a name come across my desk that I had to interview and I instantly looked them up.

Turns out, this was a girl that had an obsessive crush on me from years ago and, based on her social media, she still did.

I was in a panic, because she was basically stalking everything I did, and I really couldn't back out because it was five minutes before the interview. She came in, and it was so weird... she acted normal.

We interviewed in a professional manner for about 15 minutes, I showed her around, and I thought, "Wow, maybe she has done some maturing and just let it go."

Then we got back to my office.

I started a sentence like, "Well, (name), it's been a pleasure having you here and I-......"

"Oh, no no no, we aren't done yet. You think you can ignore everything like you don't know what's going on?! I know where you work, now. I know where you live, and I'm going to keep calling."

There was more she was saying along the lines of me telling her to kindly leave, but a phone call to the authorities, as well as a restraining order kept her away from work and my life.

 Confused man and woman

41. Her Bark Was Far Bigger Than Her Bite

Everything looked good on her resume, she was very professional and enthusiastic in her interview and just had that... thing. That self-starter attitude that made you feel like "this girl is going to get it done."

Wellll… I ran a background check and literally nothing checked out. She was not actually licensed in her field like she claimed and she had about a dozen priors for various white collar charges and none of her work history or references checked out. I guess she was just hoping that her charisma would win us over and that we wouldn't bother checking up on her.

Hiring Managers factsGesundheits-Magazin

40. Well, That Escalated Quickly

Hired a girl, she had a substance charge on her background, had the normal story of teenage misadvetnure. We believed her. That is until the local news came on a few nights later, she was detained for child endangerment after using the oven to heat her house.

Hiring Managers factsUzone

39. You Know Profile Pics Are Public, Right?

Hiring private tutors to work with middle school students. Had a great conversation with a girl, she stressed how much she wants to be a role model for young girls, basically exactly what we were looking for.

Then I googled her and the first picture on her Facebook is her doing a line.

Hiring Managers factsJidiwallpaper

38. That Didn’t Last Too Long

A guy got hired at my work when I was in between being contract and permanent, so I never met him.

Dude had just left a good teaching job with a quickness, was vague about his reasons for leaving for a temporary, lower paying job with less benefits. He was apparently super normal seeming and very nice, everyone liked him.

Some weeks later he just doesn't come in. Find out that night shift was messing around Googling people and found out teacher dude had been detained for child endargement. The background check hadn't caught it because he hadn't been charged (or maybe I mean convicted) yet (was what I was told).

Hiring Managers factsEntrepreneur Camp

37. Memory Trouble Can Happen to the Best of Us

Also one of my girlfriends dated a guy who had offed someone outside of the US. He just told potential employers that he "couldn't remember" his address when he was living abroad and so he's been passing background checks with no problems.

Hiring Managers factsNV Management

36. Looks Like We’ve Got Ourselves a Double Agent

I wasn't the hiring manager but my teammate was—a candidate came through that he and some other members interviewed and seemed pretty okay for the job until they checked her out. Turns out she was suing the company (yes, the one she applied for a job for) so my teammate ended up not hiring her.

Hiring Managers factsWites & Kapetan, PA

35. Names Can Be Misleading

A little different, but a story that always entertains me.

I worked for a staffing agency. Guy is hired and comes in for background and drug screen. He has lots of priors, but he was working in a kitchen so we got the okay to continue the process. It wasn't until the drug screen that he gets a little nervous. I tell them that we are going to do a drug screen now, and he asks to put it off til Monday. Typically, we'd have to have to it that day so they could start work but this was like 4:45 on a Friday and we wanted to go home so we said yes.

Monday rolls around and he shows up. He takes the test and it comes up positive for so much stuff. There are so many weird stories from working at a staffing agency.

Hiring Managers factsZeiler Insurance Services, Inc.

34. Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

Pre-google era but I think it fits the question.

Family owned a trucking company. Literally everyone in my immediate family has or had a commercial driver's licence. Mom's turn to take the newbie for a road test pre hire. During the road test, they were involved in an accident (they were hit while stopped).

The company was based out of Indiana. Accident happened in Illinois. Newbie gets detained on the spot. Come to find out he has warrants that hadn't been out long enough for the background check service we used to get them yet. One of the warrants... stalking a female dispatcher from the previous trucking company he worked for.

Hiring Managers factsKhonsari Law Group

33. Sounds Like an Absolutely Delightful Fellow

This kid, early 20s comes in for a job, seemed normal enough. Google him and he was wanted in another state for a stabbing.

Hiring Managers factsPinterest

32. Trying to Turn a Hobby Into a Career

I wasn't the hiring manager but I was talking to him about a couple interviews he had coming up. He said he looked up one guy and found that he'd been detained previously for various identity thefts. This position involved taking payments from customers, among other things, so obviously this guy would not be hired, but that had to be an awkward interview.

Hiring Managers factsMakromikro

31. Was An Evening of Weird Fun Worth the Job Opportunity?

Had a guy apply for an entry level post with us recently. His CV was okay, so we offered him an interview. Social media seemed okay too. He never turned up for the interview.

A couple of weeks later, there's a story about him in the local paper. Turned out that he was living at the local boarding house, and was found in the kitchen one morning totally out of it, wearing nothing but a pair of socks. When a couple of women who also lived there tried to take him back to his room, he got violent with them. Given the dates stated in the paper, he didn't turn up because he'd been behind bars at the time of the interview.

His resume has now been added to the "do not touch with a ten foot barge pole" section in our filing cabinet.

Hiring Managers factsPBS

30. Do Your Homework

I noticed on his resume that he claimed to be a graduate of the Yale School of Music.

When I asked his thoughts about Woolsey Hall (Yale's main concert hall) and its famous pipe organ (prominently on display, front and center), he obviously had no idea what I was referring to—he had never heard of Woolsey Hall.


Hiring Managers factsComplete Wellbeing

29. A Day at the Lake

I worked for a newspaper and they hired a new director for my department. About a year after I left the company, the newspaper's reporters were writing a story about this guy because he was trying to open a coffee shop. The reporters found out that he been rough with his girlfriend. The company never did a background check on him. He got fired.

Hiring Managers factsMarketWatch

28. Well I’m Glad to Hear You Finally Learned Your Lesson

I hired a girl, she interviewed well. First day she threw up some red flags, but I figured I was misjudging or misinterpreting. People start missing money and one of my belongings disappears, which had never happened prior to her hiring...

She was also insulting everyone and making customers uncomfortable and I wanted her gone (less than four full weeks from her start date) but didn't want to pay unemployment.

Finally we do a search—records in multiple states. Lesson learned: CHECK EVERYONE OUT NO MATTER HOW WELL THEY INTERVIEW!

Hiring Managers factsSOS-Switched onto Safety

27. Let’s Pull Out the World’s Smallest Violin

I was hiring for our late night shift (shifts ending at 2am/3am) and she was willing to work anything and looking for about 25 hours per week. This was absolutely what the company was looking for. She had mentioned that she was "grieving for her little boy who passed two weeks ago and needed to do something to occupy her time."

She finished her one day of computer training and stopped showing up. Later in the week she sent me an email stating that she "wasn't ready to come back to work like she'd thought," which was understandable.

My assistant manager and I decided to look her up only to find that she had multiple GoFundMe pages set up for her story with different amounts of time that the supposed child had been gone for. Her facebook was full of selfies and party photos.

She ended up asking for the job back a few months later and we shot her down pretty quick.

I've recently googled her name and found that all the GoFundMe pages have been taken down and her social media profiles deleted/privatized.

Hiring Managers factsPinterest

26. Pending Disaster

Where I work they hired a guy who was great at the job and a nice, quiet employee. His background check took forever to clear for "some reason" but it ultimately came back clean. Eventually he said he needed to take a day off for court, but he just never came back after that day. 

Hiring Managers factsSapphire Background Check

25. Hostile Takeover Attempt

We had a near miss... one senior hire. We were talking about him and how something seemed a little off when we googled him. It was like he didn't exist at all and the odd super positive tidbit of information that was always a bit too much of a stretch to be completely believable. I mean one or two people saying you're the best thing on earth is one thing but this was like all you got were these sporadic and hyper, manic observations.

One of the junior members of the team pipes up at this point. She's overheard what we're talking about. Turns out she's worked the last two places he's worked and he's like a locust. He's extremely good at his job but an absolute nightmare in all other ways. Harassment, intimidation, everything. 

He has a really niche skill set, there are always more roles than people to fill them so he hops along, pushes everyone out of their role in his team, and brings in his entourage to the point where almost anyone normal rage quits because the atmosphere is so bad. Then when HR try and step in he hits them with a constructive dismissal case and drags lawyers in so there's no paper trail.

She said he'd done it at her last job and the one before.

It's one of those things that once you know, you start to notice stuff. So at events when somebody mentioned this guy's name half the table would just give each other a look and the others would have no idea. It's not quite an open secret but it's definitely on the grapevine anecdotally if not formally.

Hiring Managers factsiDeals

24. This Is Probably Something She Doesn’t Want to Advertise…

I worked at two ad agencies in a row, and in NYC, ad agencies can tend to be a bit incestuous—everyone knows everyone because they've all moved around from ad agency to ad agency.

At the first agency I worked for, one of the senior account people was this complete crazy lady. Just totally nuts, with real anger issues on top of it. During one incident, the toner cartridge in the printer ran out while she was printing something important. So rather than just change the cartridge out like a normal person would, she freaked out, almost tore the top off the printer to get at the cartridge, and then threw the cartridge across the room at her assistant's head (who luckily ducked in time). Her assistant quit, and the boss lady was fired shortly after.

I also quit about six months later and wound up at a new agency, where about a year after that, the old assistant who almost got her head lopped off interviewed with us. She didn't get the job, which was a shame, because she really was good.

One month later, who should show up but the former boss lady, interviewing at our agency for a senior account position. Before my boss even got to her, I scooted into her office, shut the door, and was like, "Ohhhh, no no no no—I know her from the last agency I was at. She's got a total rage problem; she almost brained her assistant with a toner cartridge that she winged at her head!"

My boss took that very much into consideration, and she wound up not being hired.

Hiring Managers factsBusiness Woman Media

23. An Impressive Journey

Slightly off-topic but relevant. I heard we'd hired a new guy and so I looked him up on LinkedIn. Turns out he was just leaving a job where my father-in-law worked. I sent Pops a text and asked him about the new hire and opinions on him, and didn't get an answer.

When I went for dinner the following weekend, I asked again. Turns out this new hire said he was leaving his former job to go and take care of his ailing mother in Africa. His former company said to not worry about it. Take an unpaid leave, and come back when you can, however long it takes.

I went in on Monday and told my boss. He didn't fire him immediately, but when he didn't perform well in his job after a couple of months, he got canned...

And then proceeded to go back to his former company and tell them he was back from Africa. They did not rehire him.

Hiring Managers factsRosana Braga

22. Not the Kind of Work Experience You Were Looking For

Ok not a hiring manager but at the time, I was a makeup artist that was flying to NY to work with a photographer. Right before the trip communication dropped off completely. He wouldn't respond to Instagram or calls or emails.

A few weeks later, happened to catch his name in the paper. He had been detained for planning a burglary. 

Hiring Managers factsMadhyamam

21. It’s a Small World After All

Not the hiring manager but I was the intern responsible for checking references and running backgrounds at our company and this was in my first week where I was just learning how to go about things.

This guy did great in the interview so I got the go ahead to run a background check and call his references. Something popped up in his background so I had to call the station to figure out how to get a copy of the report since whatever happened had just happened.

I talked to someone on the phone and gave them his name and who I was and what I was calling for. After doing so, whoever I was talking to didn't know how to go about obtaining the information on her end. She put me on a brief hold then took a call back number and promised to call me back with some info.

Well, it's a good thing neither of us knew what to do because I received a call from the department less than an hour later. An officer told me "I'm really not supposed to be doing this but I just wanted to let you know that interview guy had gone to court for carjacking a woman and that woman works at your company."

He saw the company name and the guy’s name and warned us. I'm so grateful too.

Hiring Managers factsBusiness Insider

20. No Shame, No Fear, and Sadly, No Regrets

Years ago at my previous company a few co-workers met a young man interested in a software development position with us at a local trade conference and invited him to come interview with us later that afternoon.

Said fellow eagerly provided the link to his blog. Top post was about being recently released on probation after a stint for illicit drug sales, and how his upstream supplier was kind enough to front him some startup capital and some new inventory to resume his little side gig, as his previous stash was allegedly confiscated during a previous visit by law enforcement. Co-workers and I decided to read a few more posts just to make sure we didn't confuse him for the wrong guy and inadvertently got the wrong link.

Sure enough, a few photos in some older posts confirmed it was the same guy. We managed to get little additional work done in the rest of the afternoon between speculation as to when his apparent commitment to full public disclosure would land himself back in the clink and whether we ought to even mention having checked out his blog.

We all had to try very hard to keep a straight face when he did come in for his interview. He actually was reasonably knowledgeable when it came to the job, and somehow we managed to completely avoid the question of his side gig in recreational pharmaceutical sales. We gave him an A+ for honesty, and a F for good sense.

He was not extended an offer for employment.

Hiring Managers factsThe Motley Fool

19. Different Scenario, Same Effect

I know this may not be totally relevant here but there was a time when I was screening tenant applications for a room for rent. I had a bad roommate experience before and wanted to make sure I got the right fit for a tenant.

I was exchanging emails with this nice lady who was eager to move. I explained to her the process and that a background check was needed (to be done by our property manager). But I had this weird gut feeling about this lady so I googled her name and a bunch of records popped up including domestic disputes. That was a no for me and politely declined her application.

Hiring Managers factsEnglish and Culture

18. Every Father’s Dream

I share my dad’s name. So when you google my name you pull up HIS exploits, stuff like being detained for having seven semi trucks worth of the green stuff in his driveway.... thanks dad.

Hiring Managers factsInkhabar

17. Familiar Bio

Ideal resume, great in-person interview, perfect skills for what we were looking for.

I deciding to google him, I found his blog, it did not have his name on it but it has his hometown, current town, his university, date of graduation and degree on his blog details. His hometown and university are very small, there was no mistake this was the same guy. HIs vitriol, prejudiced-filled blog.

Yeah... no... did not hire.

Hiring Managers factsThe Motley Fool

16. Way to Slam Dunk the First Impression

Dude sent me his resume, but instead of sending it as an attachment he emailed me a snapshot of his resume he had stored in his photos.

In the photos below it was him drinking 40s with his friends.

Hiring Managers factsRoz Usheroff

15. This Candidate’s Chances Were Sas-Squashed

Okay so I wasn't on the hiring committee, but this guy who was in trouble for his involvement in using taxpayer money to hunt down Bigfoot applied for a dean position at my college. We're explicitly not supposed to google any candidates ever (good idea HR), but I guess that doesn't apply to other employees not on the hiring committee. Word got around. He was not hired.

Hiring Managers factspinoy career center

14. You Have the Right to Remain Unemployed

We hired an ex-office a technician in our trade field. He seemed willing and able, and he passed stringent background and driving backgrounds. He said he was wanting to be out of law enforcement because of the scrutiny officers were under and needed a career change. This dude looked like a cop! A

nyway, he worked for a couple months and did OK at his role... until we got a call saying he'd blacked out behind the wheel, crossed several lanes and medians and wrecked his company truck into a tree and finally a house. We went to pick him up and assess damage. The firefighters agreed it might be due to dehydration and no charges were filed. Then we googled his name...

This officer had been charged with for drinking and then getting in a car in the middle of the day one year prior, for wrecking his cruiser in much the same way. On that day, paramedics discovered and he confessed to drinking all darn day during his patrol. Dude was an extreme (but functioning) alcoholic. Luckily he was still inside his 90 day probation period so termination was simple.

Police officer is looking at police car .Rosemary Ketchum, Pexels

13. A Case of Mistaken Identity

He was so well spoken, had big dreams, was tech savvy. I was about to hire him on the spot. A Google search pulled up a mugshot for identity theft. We didn't hire him.

Hiring Managers factsEquifax

12. There’s Always Hope

I was interviewing a chef for my business. The interview went great—and he had an excellent resume. Worked at some of the top restaurants in the world, three Michelin star type places. Even did a short cooking test with some spare-ribs and they were incredible.

There was some stiff competition though so eventually we decided to look at everyone’s Facebook profiles. One of his old profile pics was him at a Mardi Gras parade dressed as Pikachu with a big adult toy strapped on.

He got the job anyway.

Hiring Managers factsMonster

11. She Has Her Pros and Cons

I was head of HR for an answering service company at one point in my life. Staff turnover was atrocious and most of the resumes that came through were from people that had zero job history or were chronic job hoppers.

Imagine my surprise when Renee's resume crossed my desk. With the exception of a ten year gap on her resume, she appeared to be an ideal candidate. And then I found the articles from a newspaper about two hours away. That ten year gap? Serving time for kidnapping.

Hiring Managers factsBlue Ocean Contact Centers

10. All Out in the Open

We were narrowing the group down to two or three candidates. We then Google/FB/LinkedIN them and get to one that was in the top two. Their FB was completely open to the public to view everything. Lots of horrible comments. Risque photos of them

Was too bad, their resume was quite good. Just not something we would consider appropriate.

Hiring Managers factsSourcecon

9. Role Reversal

I have a story from the other side of the desk.

When I showed up for my interview the hiring manager was not there. I was told he was "out sick" but I could interview with his backup. Halfway through the interview the office starts buzzing with activity. Whispers of an emergency were circulating and the "sick" manager's name is part of the emergency. We wrapped up the interview early and I went home.

Later that day I googled his name. He wasn't sick. He had turned himself in that morning for shooting a woman. I got the job.

Hiring Managers factsPixolli Studios

8. Side Projects

The guy who was fired from the police department because he extorted people in exchange for pushing applications through for the Academy.

Hiring Managers factsWorkAlpha

7. Secret Double Life

We had a dishwasher/delivery driver at the restaurant I work at. He was a great guy, not a US native, he filmed commercials for big companies all over the world. Kinda rich guy. He was working with us pretty much to pass time.

He started hitting on a waitress, and said waitress reported it.

Fast forward a week, he gets confronted by management for it.

Boss: hey [redacted], we need to talk for a minute.
Uhhh... I can't work here anymore. I'm being framed, I swear!

And he walks out the door immediately to never return.

Hiring Managers factsJustScience

6. Dropping the Ball

I was working at a small retail sports chain as an assistant manager. The District manager hired another assistant manager for our store. About a month into him working there I asked him if he could cover one of my shifts. His response was "I would but my probation officer doesn't want me working alone with girls under the age of 17." Ummm what? 

Hiring Managers factsCareerLancer

5. Chasing His Dreams

Happened earlier this week. Near perfect resume. Guy has quite relevant experience up until about four years ago, and has been trying to get his own startup off the ground since then. It's not working out (no big deal, most don't) so he's looking for another job.

Of course, I go and Google his startup.

It's complete and utter BS. He's been trying to get people to invest in the equivalent of a perpetual motion machine (not that, but similarly fanciful concept of another type). No wonder he couldn't get any investment or traction of any other type.
So yeah, hard pass.

Hiring Managers factsTwitter

4. Having the FBI Involved Is Always a Good Sign

Oh, I've got a good one.

We had hired a new entry-level graphic designer. Let's call him Will. He had talent and a decent portfolio, but there were some strange things right from the beginning.

For example he would always come in wearing expensive suits, despite our being a jeans-and-t-shirt office, and his having a very low-paid position. We didn't care much about that. No clue how he affords that wardrobe, but that's none of our business.

He's a designer, and I guess he likes to look nice.

The weirdest thing was that he adamantly refused to accept direct deposit for his paycheck. He wanted a physical check every other week. Strange, but okay. Designers are eccentric sometimes.

So, one evening we're all working really late on a project together. We've got some bottles of red around, some pizzas, etc. It's miserably long hours but we're a good team and having a good time.

All of a sudden Will looks up from his computer and freaking runs as fast as he can out the door. Not a word to any of us, he just dashes out. We all look at each other, try calling him, etc, with no answer. We finish up the project and go home still wondering what happened.

The next day Will doesn't come into work. He doesn't come in the next day either. We try calling his emergency contact, but don't get any response there either.

So we Google him, and see the FBI press release. Turns out he was detained about 500 miles from our office a few hours after he ran out. I guess he got a tip that the FBI was onto him and decided to make a run for it.

Turns out he had been scamming payroll companies for years, to the tune of about $1M. That's why he didn't want direct deposit for his paycheck. What he didn't know was that we processed our physical checks through the same payroll company as our direct deposit, and they reported his new address to the FBI. Oops.

Hiring Managers factsNYMag

Complete Wellbeing

3. There's Always More to the Story

Had a guy come in to apply for a dump truck job, seemed ok, very well spoken, clean cut, not the type you usually see applying for a job driving a dump truck. He told me he had a phd in Psychology, had his own DWI/addiction counseling business but his wife divorced him and he lost everything.

So I googled him, he wasn't lying, but the story goes much deeper...

Turns out his wife was cheating on him, when he found out where the boyfriend lived he snorted almost enough coke to give himself a heart attack and went to his house, where his wife's car was parked. He shot 30 rounds from an AR-15 into the house and the car with them inside the house! Somehow he got off with only six months behind bars and probation. He didn't get the job.

Hiring Managers factsSlideShare

2. History Repeats Itself

I was a restaurant manager and the owner hired this guy as a chef without doing basic research (which he did a few times). Anyways, the guy said he had won several awards and worked with celebrities, etc.

The guy was a total jerk to everyone on staff. I decided to google him. First hit is a mugshot. Then more articles, one about where he lied about getting a James Beard Award from a previous restaurant he worked at. A comment about him owing $25,000 or something to his former boss. The only positive restaurant review he had was from 1990.

I came in after the weekend to show my boss this stuff, when I learn he was fired the night before for exposing himself to one of the waitresses.

Hiring Managers factsSpotlight

1. Change the Combos On All Our Locks

I was interviewing a much older guy for a similar position of mine. Everything seemed okay, and he was our best candidate. Before moving forward, I did a quick google search to only find out that he was fired from his previous job because of stealing $5000 worth of computer equipment.
My director hired him anyway.

Hiring Managers factsVator


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