For job interviews, people often try to put their best foot forward and make a great impression. That is certainly not the case for the unprepared and unprofessional folks in these stories. These hiring managers and employees share the utmost worst interviews they've seen yet.
“A few years ago we put out an app for a senior software developer. The description was rather broad; we had a variety of projects we could stick them on, but needed a senior level person that could jump in relatively quickly.
In comes this lady, let’s name her Susan, with an excellent resume. Ten years of development experience, lead-level previous position, listed proficiencies in all the languages we wanted, even obscure ones (who the heck still knows XSLT, for example).
So we bring her for an interview, one of those public sector committee ones with preset questions, and she’s acing it: talks a big game, excitedly describes her past projects and their impact, seems all around pretty personable. Then we deviate a bit and start asking basic coding questions and she replies with a line I will never forget as long as I shall live:
‘Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t really do coding, I have my chinaman for that.’
five seconds of stunned silence
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘My chinaman, (let’s call him Bob), if something needs doing, I pass it off to him and it’s just done. He’s really good.’
When we inquired if we could maybe interview ‘the chinaman’ instead, she got really flustered and basically wound the interview down. It’s like we committed a great offense by implying the two of them were separate entities. To this day we don’t really know what the deal there was, exactly.”
“We interviewed a guy once for an engineering position. We Asked the typical, “ what do you like to do in your free time?” He said he really enjoyed taking his dog with him on a long run to decompress (so far so good)—then he went into excruciating detail of how his dog likes to lick every last drop of sweat off his body as he undresses for the shower. It was cringe-inducingly weird.”
Chris Sounds Like A Cool Guy
“Sorry if this is a long one, it’s one of my favorite stories as a hiring manager. When I used to work warehouse operations I’ll never forget my favorite resume. I was looking through a stack of resumes trying to do phone screens for some associate positions. It was typed using some weird font that I actually had to look up, maybe Copperplate, something along those lines but it was years ago. It had the kids name, let’s say, Chris, at the top in HUGE letters followed by an objective that among a few other sentences said: ‘Trying attain (not obtain, attain) a position in warehousing or retail to afford rent and move out of my parents’ place.’ Under his job information, he included ‘Show up to work daily’ as a responsibility. He then had a section where he listed ‘Woodshop and Metal shop’ as skills.
I had to call this guy for the screen, I just had to. I dial the number and I’m greeted with ‘Yo.’ I introduced myself as a representative of my company and the guy says ‘Oh, yeah, sup?’ I really had to keep it together. I wanted to find out if this guy really was serious about a job or if he was just trolling. I said ‘So I noticed on your resume you list finding a job to move out as an objective” and this kid literally went into a five-minute talk about how he hates living at home and needs his freedom. Sort of admirable but unnecessary. I then followed up with a question regarding the ‘show up to work daily’ comment to which he comments ‘Yeah, I worked with my uncle at the job before that and basically went in whenever I needed cash so at that job I had to go every day.’
I figured, what the heck, maybe this is just a young kid with some great work ethic who just really doesn’t know how to sell himself. I was hiring laborers for $9/hr, the guy had to move boxes so I figured I’d give him a shot in person. Our resume pool was typically filled with addicts and people who couldn’t pass a background check so I took what I could get. I invite him in for the following day. He shows up to the interview in a band t-shirt, I think TOOL, and ripped jeans. He doesn’t even shake my hand. Just walks in, ignores my extended hand and sits, then notices my shock that he just did that and stands back up, says “my bad” and gives me this slap/shake.
After 3 minutes in the room with that kid, I made a point from then on to just go by my judgment of the resume.”
This Guy Just Admitted To Theft
“I was hiring for a field technician position and brought three equally qualified candidates in for interviews. They all had sufficient experience with other contractors so all I really cared about was how they presented themselves and how they spoke to someone in a position of authority.
The first two candidates were excellent. I figured it was going to be a super tough choice between the two of them at least. Then the third candidate completely blows away the other two in how he presents himself. He’s clearly very gifted and is super ambitious and I’m about ten seconds away from telling him he’ll receive an offer before the end of the week.
He starts telling me he’s excited about this opportunity because he feels his current employer is going under because of some poor business decisions over the last year. Signing contracts that they can’t complete and things like that. I ask an open-ended question like ‘How would you do it better?’ And this fella tells me something to the effect of “well, I don’t know much about business but one time I was working on Interac (credit card) machines and found a way to add my personal bank account information to the machine. So I did that to help boost my personal income because I figured it wouldn’t be easy to trace. But don’t worry I cleared it all up with the cops and had to pay all the money back. Oh and that’s what the company should have done – find a way to generate passive income until something more profitable came along.”
I was floored. I just stared at him. I couldn’t even respond.
He asked me straight up how that story would affect his chances. I told him I had other candidates that probably fit the role a little better but would keep him in consideration for future opportunities.”
An Unforgettably Tense Interview
“I used to do hiring for a healthcare staffing company, think of it as a place that sends out substitute teachers to hospitals, but instead of teachers, we send nurses, physical therapists, behavioral health techs (psych techs) and other medical positions. I was 22-24 during the time I worked there, and regularly interviewed people 2-3 times my age. If hired, I was their immediate supervisor as well, so some people took it poorly when someone their kid or grandkid’s age was their boss.
I had one man who really stood out in my experiences. I interviewed him over the phone beforehand, we had his resume, and his work history looked solid. He had worked in the behavioral health field for about 25 years on and off, so it sounded like he knew what he was doing, and he was very friendly and nice over the phone. In the phone interview, I gave him all the details about how the job works, how they are basically on call certain days to sub in at behavioral health facilities as behavioral health techs, usually in group homes or psych facilities. I sent a follow-up email confirming the date and time for the in-person interview, that there would be paperwork afterward so we can get him on our roster, and that I would need all his certifications in order to hire him and get him ready to go. This includes first aid/CPR certifications, proof of bachelor’s degree (or higher), and some other records.
He shows up to the interview (late), and according to our secretary, he walked in, looked around the lobby, then asked where the bags of money was because he wanted to get paid. She sat him down in one of the interview rooms, came and got me, and said the guy seemed a little off. I sat down with him and started asking the usual questions to try to get to know an interviewee, and got some surprising answers:
Me – ‘How long have you been working in this field?’
Him – ‘Why do you care? I’ve probably been doing this longer than you’ve been alive.’
Me – ‘What about this line of work are you passionate about?’
Him – ‘What the heck does that matter?’
Me – ‘Well IF I decide to hire you on, I would be your boss, so I’d like to know why you might enjoy this job.’
Him – ‘Because it gets me paid.’
Me – ‘Did you bring any of the certifications I asked for in the email?’
Him – ‘You never asked for anything, why would I bring it? I read that email and you didn’t tell me to bring anything.’
It was already obvious that I would never hire this piece of trash, and after a few insults, I decided to put him in his place for wasting my time. I have the secretary give him the first few hiring papers, just to keep him busy while I printed out the email I had sent him that specifically listed the first aid and CPR certifications, his degree, and other certifications that were necessary. After highlighting the exact lines he claimed was never in the email, I walked back into the room, placed it down on top of his hiring paperwork, and walked out for a few minutes so he could have plenty of time to read them.
I came back in, sat down, and told him that since he insulted me, refused to provide even the most basic certifications, and was just rude in general, there was no way he could represent our company. His response was something along the line of ‘Oh that’s fine, that’s just fine,’ followed by him standing up, tearing all the papers in half, then trying to stab me in the eye with the pencil he was using to fill out the forms. Luckily there was a table between us so his reach sucked, so I was able to knock his arm out of the way, he hit my forehead with the pencil, then I slammed his back against the wall and told him to leave before we called the cops. He started screaming, then stormed off after knocking some stuff around in our lobby.
No serious injury or anything to worry about for me, but that was one hostile interview that I’ll never forget.”
Two Failed Interviews But At Least They Got A Laugh Out Of Both
“This was some years ago (my early 20s) when I was first promoted to a supervisory position and my manager was demonstrating interview techniques. He asked me to collect the lady coming in from reception so I could get a first impression. On the way to the meeting room we were chatting and she was smartly dressed in a trouser suit and carrying quite a large bag, I would guess age around 50. She asked who would be doing the interview so I gave the job title and she asked to clarify if it was male or female, so I confirmed it was male. This was when it got weird. She asked to use the bathroom on the way, so I showed her where it was and waited outside for her. 10 minutes later (and now late for the interview)she came out, a total change of outfit. Now it was a miniskirt, very low top, high heels, and hair down. We carried on to the meeting room for the interview and I sat and watched my manager’s interview technique dissipate. She was constantly crossing and uncrossing legs, leaning forwards, and playing with her hair. The interview lasted 15 minutes and I ended up showing her out. She didn’t get the job but it gave us a heck of a laugh.
More recently I interviewed someone who claimed to speak a foreign language that we’d been clear wasn’t essential but would have been a bonus. A guy claimed to speak, read, and write fluently so I gave him a pre-prepared paragraph to translate. He asked me if we had the translation as well and when I said that I did, he stood up and said ‘Well was worth a try, I don’t really’ and walked out.”
You CAN Judge A Book By Its Cover
“I used to manage a water park at a resort. One of the maintenance guys asked if I could interview his son for a lifeguard position, so I said sure what the heck. I delegated the task to one of my newly minted supervisors as a training exercise (she’s never interviewed someone before) while I sat in and watched.
Anyway, the kid comes in barely on time and I kid you not, he’s wearing a wife-beater, basketball shorts, and socks with flip-flops. Now, I wasn’t expecting a suit and tie, but come on. She (supervisor) looks at me wide-eyed but I motion her to continue the interview so as to not waste the opportunity.
Kid expectedly bombs, and when it’s over I ask the supervisor to leave. I don’t believe in mincing words or giving false hope so I tell him point blank “Aside from the interview itself, why do you think we should hire you when you come in wearing all this, clearly indicating you don’t respect us enough to even try?”
His response: ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover, bro.'”
An Irritating Interview
“A long time ago, I was a manager for GameStop. GameStop was very particular about the interview process. ‘Here’s a sheet, ask these questions’
I don’t work that way. I’ll get to this later though.
So I have a whole line of seasonal hires lined up. And I have one guy call me and say he’s going to be a little late. That’s fine, misfortune happens, Minnesota’s weather sucks, I get it.
An hour passes, I have another potential hire come in for their scheduled interview. I take them in the back and the interview goes great. I walk out and there he is.
The only way I can describe this guy is hungover without taking a shower. I could smell the bar on him from across the store.
I ask him ‘Can I help you?’
Him – ‘Yeah I had an interview today, I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes.’
Me – ‘You had an interview at noon. I’ve been waiting for 60 minutes.’
I can already tell this is going to be a good time.
We head to the back and I sit down with him, getting slightly blitzed on the smell of what I suspect was a stiff drink.
Me – ‘So why GameStop?’
Him – ‘I dunno, I like video games and stuff.’
Me – ‘Well not a requirement but it definitely helps.’
I’m still trying to keep a sunny attitude because you never know, maybe this guy is a hidden gem of a person, just had a rough night. I never try to pretend I know what’s going on with someone. But I’ve already got quite a few red flags.
Him -‘Yeah, I guess. When are you gonna ask the questions on the sheet?’
Me – ‘I’m sorry?’
Him – ‘The questions you’re supposed to ask me.’
Me – ‘I don’t interview that way. I want to get a feel for the type of person you are and questions like, ‘Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.’ don’t really get me the information I need to know about you.’
Him – ‘Well that’s stupid. That’s not how you should interview people.’
So now I’m over the guy, but heck I deserve some fun.
Me – ‘How should I interview people then?’
Him – ‘The way GameStop says to do it.’
Me – ‘Well GameStop as a corporate entity doesn’t have to work with the people I hire on a daily basis. I like to have people that fit with my team. People who don’t call in that they’ll be a little late and then show up an hour later. People who don’t show up to a business where they work or intend to work smelling like the inside of some cheap bottle of spirits.
Him – ‘It wasn’t cheap. Trust me.’
Me – ‘Well, I’ve heard all I need to hear. I’ll call if we make the decision to hire you.’
He then proceeded to mumble some stuff under his breath before leaving the office. I have never had my employees run in to make sure I wasn’t dead so fast.
‘Jesus, we thought he might have killed you.’
‘He did. On the inside.’
This was six or so years ago. I’m now a network engineer and don’t worry about that nonsense.”
Where Do They Find These People?
“Not a pro recruiter, but had my share of fun ones. As a restaurant manager, I had an interview scheduled at 3 pm. At about 2 it slowed down a bit so I sat at an out-of-the-way table to observe everything and get some paperwork done. Right at 3 pm, a guy who had been drinking at the bar for a couple of hours finished his drink and then asked who he is supposed to see for his interview. He smelled like a brewery.
I politely told him thanks but no thanks. I checked his tab after he left – he had six bottles while he was waiting. When I was on an interview panel for a clerk position in the Sheriff’s Office, I had a lady start the interview by asking if it was a problem that she had an active warrant. We told her to go across the hall to the court clerk and get it taken care of right away. I was interviewing a high school kid for a Community Service Officer position and I asked him what activities he was into. He responded that he really liked smoking pot.”
“I interviewed a woman for an IT position. A few minutes in she started rubbing one of her eyes. Within a few minutes, it was all red and started to swell. She kept rubbing at it and rubbing at it. By the end of the interview, she couldn’t see out of the eye at all and a HUGE whitehead had formed on her eyelid but the whole time she never acknowledged the problem even though I asked if she was okay. When the interview wrapped up she tried to shake my hand with the same hand she had been rubbing all over her disease-infested eyeball from the underworld.
I politely declined. She didn’t get the job.”
It’s Going To Be A No From Me
“We were interviewing for a higher-level management position in a small company, in a very small rural area. The candidate was from a large city pretty far away. One of the panel asks a general question of how he sees himself fitting in with the community (position involved some community outreach) given that we’re very rural. His response was absolutely jaw-dropping.
The candidate says ‘Oh I can be a redneck!’ and then proceeds to tell a joke using the n-word multiple times. He then laughed at his own joke and acted like nothing was wrong.
It was so crazy I had no idea how to react.”
The Interviewee Was Wiser Than The Interviewer
“I was the interviewee and it happened about six years ago when I was looking for work.
The Interview was for a ‘Marketing’ position at a new firm. The interview went well and I was offered a trial shift the following Monday. On turning up it became clear that this wasn’t a marketing job but a door to door sales job for what was basically a huge MLM. The ‘service’ was to sign people up for charities on monthly donations. To make matters worse we were told to lie to consumers about our pay status (we would make a commission effective to their first two months donation, my ‘boss’ would then get another month and the company would get the rest equivalent to 6 months donations). We weren’t supposed to tell people that and had to tell them we were salaried (we weren’t – I only found out during the trial it was commission only)
So far not so good. When they ‘offer’ me the ‘job’ I let them know I have another interview lined up the following day and tell them I’ll let them know by the end of the week.
The interview goes well, it’s a real (albeit temporary role) and I’m offered the job and inform the MLM of my decision. This is somehow a 30-minute call where he’s still trying to convince me to work for him with me saying i’m not interested at all.
Fast forward to the next Monday and I’m rudely awoken at 9:15 with a phone call.
Me: Hello? Who is this?
MLM: Where the heck are you?!?!?
Me; Sorry? What are-?
MLM: You were meant to be here at 8:30 – this isn’t a good start to your first day is it? Why are you so late?
Me: Sorry but who is this?
MLM: It’s Greg from **. You know the company who YOU work for, it’s too late now your team has left, you better be on time tomorrow!
Me: Sorry, there must’ve been a misunderstanding, I got offered a job at a different firm and accepted that role, sorry for this.
MLM: Well you should have told us this, it’s not professional to just not turn up and we would’ve hired someone else, now your team is short-staffed…
me: I told my interviewer? Maybe check with him? Anyway, I need to go, bye!
Hoping this is resolved I get up and go about my day. Tuesday morning I am again awoken to the same guy demanding reasons for me not turning up to work (Apparently not working for them isn’t a valid excuse)
This amazing continued until the following Monday where I was ‘let go’ for ‘unauthorized’ absences. When asked if this means he’ll stop phoning me he told me to grow up and be professional about it.
Think I dodged a bullet there…”
Betrayed By Their Own Hubris (And Reputation)
“I wasn’t the manager but was part of the hiring process.
My boss would walk over with the interviewee, who was supposed to sit with me so I could show them about a half-hour of ‘a day in the life.’ I was also the laid back part of the interview to see if they said something incredibly stupid.
This time, when I looked up, I very quickly had to hide my expression. It was someone that I had worked with previously and had absolutely hated. Not only would she have been a bad fit personality-wise, but her work ethic was god awful. The interviewee automatically assumed she had it in the bag, and dropped her veneer of professionalism. She sat back, leaned back in the chair, and told me that I didn’t need to show her anything, she was sure she would get the hang of the job ‘sooner or later’ and since I was there, I would absolutely get her in.
My boss came back to get her, and I walked into her boss’s office and sat down. When my boss walked back in, she asked what the look on my face was for when she brought the interviewee over. She knew something was up, but couldn’t tell what. I explained what it was like working with her before (unprofessional, uncoachable, played by whatever rules she decided she wanted to follow), and then what she had done in this interview. My boss and her boss then called the agency and said that they needed new candidates.”
Who Was She Fooling?
“When I was manager of a Dunkin Donuts I called a girl to come in and interview. Her resume seemed great but as I was interviewing her I took a closer look at her previous experience. She had listed a grocery store I had worked at myself and said she’d worked there between a certain time frame as a cashier. Thing is, I worked there at the same time, was there before and after she would have worked there. I knew everyone, this was a small grocery store, we only had a small amount of staff, we all knew each other. She did not work there. Or, if she did she was incorrect about the time-frame. The only problem, that was supposedly her first job after graduating high school. I thought maybe she worked there a few hours a week during school but the problem was: she didn’t go to school in North Carolina.
She had been born and raised in Montana and her resume listed the high school she graduated from as a high school in Montana. Normally we didn’t actually call previous managers because it was a donut shop and we paid minimum wage, the stakes aren’t exactly high. In this instance, I had to end the interview and mark her as ineligible for hire for a period of one year because she had lied.
As she was leaving she tried to convince me that I did know her, we had been friends. I had never met this girl before. So deluded.”