TAFEP Hero 2023 Oct
HR horror stories: 5 workplace nightmares that will make you shudder

HR horror stories: 5 workplace nightmares that will make you shudder



The human resource pro, like most everyone else in the workplace has been going a challenging time this year. Here’s a bunch of five HR horror stories to (sort of) brighten up your day.

HR horror story #1: The hungry temp
Every office has a phantom pantry thief. But what the steal is usually pretty trivial – from swiping the last of a colleague’s milk from the fridge to taking their favourite personalised mug from the cupboard. But spare a thought for one company who fell victim to a ravenous temp. On the temps very first day, HR had to terminate them. The reason? The temp had eaten three people’s lunches out of the fridge – by 11:30am!

HR horror story #2: Honesty kills
Honesty is usually the best policy, but it’s not always the case for prospective employees. According to one interviewer at Hays Recruitment: “A finance manager conducting first stage interviews was asking very typical questions and unfortunately one candidate we put forward was a bit too honest. When asked how they enjoyed their accounting studies they replied: ‘I hated every moment of it, dullest experience of my life.’”

But wait – it gets worse. “They also said their weaknesses were ‘laziness, according to their mum’, followed by, when asked why they are leaving their current role, ‘To get away from some of the idiots I work with’.” Oops.

HR horror story #3: The recruiter from hell
In 2016, during recruitment, a 67-year-old jobseeker was told by the interviewer that he “was not looking to hire anyone the candidate’s age because he had enough staff that was 40 or 50-year-old guys. He needed younger men that can be able to climb ladders and get on the roof”.

The applicant took action and his company ended up embroiled in a hefty lawsuit. The moral of the story? Age discrimination is immoral and can leave companies on the wrong side of the law.

HR horror story #4: The silent applicant returns (just not your calls)
“I’m constantly amazed at how many people don’t respond to an interview request, or don’t show up to an interview they scheduled. Why take all that time to apply, and then not finish the process?” said Jonah Phillips, CEO of My Worksheet Maker. 

And he’s not imagining it. According to a report by Marketwatch, 41% of jobseekers believe it’s acceptable to shut down communications without explanation during a recruitment process – a time-consuming nightmare for many a HR manager.

HR horror story #5: The revenge of the scorned lover
After being made aware that a newly appointed manager was not happy with an underperforming employee, HR consultant, Justine Miller, became concerned. “The manager had only been in her role for three weeks, and a satisfactory performance review cycle had been completed only one month earlier. I wondered what had happened in the ensuing weeks for the situation to have apparently changed so dramatically,” she said

Turned out the pair in question had been lovers, who had partaken of an office romance that had soured. Consequently, Justine had to add break-up counsellor to her list of professional duties.

Got a HR horror story, funny or serious, you’d like to share? If so, we’d love to hear it and publish it – anonymously of course if that’s your preference. Just email us robertb@humanresourcesonline.net  with the goss.  

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!

Free newsletter

Get the daily lowdown on Asia's top Human Resources stories.

We break down the big and messy topics of the day so you're updated on the most important developments in Asia's Human Resources development – for free.

subscribe now open in new window