Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »
Candidates have done strange things at interviews – but sometimes, it’s the bosses who leave no stones upturned to make the interview memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Check out a few stories of interviews gone wrong, as shared in The Stir.
1. The inattentive listener
“I was in an interview and I talked for about five minutes about why I don’t drink coffee.
It turns out that they asked me if I knew how to make COPIES.” — Rachel T., Austin, Texas
2. The mind boggler
My interviewee asked me the following questions.
‘Someone asks you to push a button that gets someone in the world beat up; how much would it cost for you to push that button?’
‘What can you do with a wooden log?’
‘What is something you know to be true but actually isn’t?’
I tried my best to answer them, but he shot down every answer I gave and picked them apart. I left feeling very small.” — Regan P., Austin, Texas
3. The inappropriate questions
The interviewer asked all sorts of illegal questions: Was I going to have more kids? Were my kids in daycare? What did my husband do for a living?
It was awful because I wanted the job but I also wanted to point out that — hello!– you can’t ask that!” — Jules W., Toledo, Ohio
4. The choke
“I was in an interview and it was going well until they asked me a question about diversity. The question is totally one I expected and I had practiced a great answer for it, but my mind went blank. Totally blank.
I sat there for what felt like an eternity and then said, ‘Can I come back to that one?’ and they were like, ‘No, you need to answer it now.’ I ended up mumbling something about liking all people. Awful.
Yeah, didn’t get that job.” — Name Withheld
5. The sleeping dead
“I got flown in for an interview and put up at a hotel the night before. I was so nervous that I tossed and turned all night. I finally fell asleep around 5 a.m. and slept through my phone alarm. I didn’t wake up until hotel security came banging on the door.
“A member of the search committee was in the lobby waiting to pick me up and they’d been calling the room (I’m a heavy sleeper).
“I dressed as fast as I could but ended up over an hour late for my first interview. Totally embarrassing and I didn’t get the job, of course.” — Jill Z., Colorado Springs, Colorado
6. The bad stomach
“I had a two-day interview and the first day went really well. I had dinner at a seafood place with the search committee and it was fine. About five hours after I got back to the hotel, I woke up needing to vomit. I was up all night, sick from both ends. I had food poisoning!
“I tried to rally for the second day of interviews but was feeling miserable. The real low point came when I was giving a presentation on branding strategies and, well, there is no easy way to say this — I shit my pants. And then burst into tears. So awful.” — Name withheld
7. The quitter
“This didn’t happen to me, thankfully, but I was on a search committee when I saw a candidate self-destruct in front of us. She was smart and polished and was actually our best candidate on paper for the position. The interview was going well and then she got nervous, I guess?
ALSO READ: 5 reasons candidates skip job interviews
“All of a sudden she stopped talking and then said, ‘I’ve blown it. I’ve blown this interview. I’m withdrawing as a candidate.’ And then she just stood up and walked out of the room.
It was so bizarre. The other committee members and I couldn’t believe it happened. Poor woman.” — Laura D., Des Moines, Iowa
8. The working mother
“After quitting my job to have a baby, I decided I wanted to work after all. The first interview I had was scheduled for 1 p.m., so I nursed my baby and then left. Well, the committee was running late, so I waited and waited and waited.
“By the time they finally got to me, I was starting to get engorged. Halfway through the interview, I started to leak breast milk. I had pads in but the thought of my milk showing made me so nervous that I fumbled the rest of the questions. It was the worst.” — Paula J., Minneapolis, Minnesota
9. The alcoholic
“I work in human resources so I have tons of bad interview stories. The worst I heard was a woman who showed up for her afternoon interview absolutely drunk. We actually had to call the police because she drove herself there and was trying to leave the building to drive home when the committee declined to interview her.
“We got an apology letter a week later. Apparently she was so nervous that she did some shots to take the edge off. Bad plan.” — Mary R., Boston, Massachusetts
10. The swearer
“I was interviewing with two really nice women and at one point I gestured with my hand and knocked my coffee cup all over the table. I accidentally blurted out, ‘Oh for f*ck’s sake!’
“Did I mention that I was interviewing for a position working in a church nursery?” — Bethany E., Grand Rapids, Michigan
11. Language barrier
“I was living in South Korea and applied for a job teaching English at a school there. I showed up for my interview and realised as soon as it started that the interviewer didn’t speak any English. I barely spoke Korean.
“I have a Korean name, so I’m guessing they just assumed I spoke the language? We just sat there for 10 minutes and tried our best to communicate, but it was hopeless.” — Anna P., London, England
How do you know if your #learning is relevant for the #future?
Find out at the region's largest conference for HR and L&D practitioners, Learning & Development Asia, happening in September.
Register for early-bird savings now.