Forget ghouls, ghosts and zombies, some of the scariest things happen inside interview rooms. Don’t believe me? Here are a collection of interview horror stories that are sure to make you cackle hysterically.
With more twists and turns than an M Night Shyamalan film, we’re sure you’ll find these ghastly tales of interviews-gone-bad a real treat.
*Disclaimer* – These stories are all based on real life events. However, they do not represent the quality of the candidates we put forward to our clients on a regular basis. We have arranged tens of thousands of interviews over the years and we only have a handful of horror stories to tell.
With that in mind – are you ready to hear some of them? Then we shall begin.
“How Dare You Ask Me That?”
Our collection of interview horror stories begins with a candidate that may well have misunderstood the whole purpose of attending an interview.
It started out like any other interview. The candidate arrived and met the managers who would be interviewing him. They exchanged some pleasantries and sat down to talk further. The hiring manager wanted to learn more about the candidate, as is so often the case in interviews (literally every interview), so began asking some questions about his recent work experience.
So far so good, you may think. Well, this all changed when, out of nowhere, the candidate got up and walked out of the room, announcing “You’ve made it clear that I’m not right, so I may as well just leave now!”. The interviewers looked at each other, baffled, unsure where this had come from. Up until this point, the interview had gone well, so what had just happened came as a shock to everybody.
The hiring manger tried to reason with the candidate, who was unapologetic. And it was at this point that the candidate uttered, arguably, the most iconic sentence ever uttered in an interview situation…
“I’m not here to be questioned!”
Oddly enough, that is the exact reason interviews are conducted, it turns out.
The candidate was not hired, in case you were wondering.
Let me set the scene: you’re sitting in a meeting room with a candidate, interviewing them for a PHP developer role. They know their stuff. They’re chatty, confident and have the kind of experience that you’re looking for. But you need to know – what are their long-term aspirations? Do they have the potential to be with your company for the foreseeable?
Well, when one hiring manager asked their interviewee where he wanted to be 5 years from now, they got an answer that they weren’t entirely expecting.
Because, in response to their question, the candidate informed them: “I’m planning on quitting work in a few months to become a baker full time.” And not only that; this admission was followed up with a lengthy monologue on his passion for baking.
Needless to say, there wasn’t a job offer made on this occasion.
You May Want To Take Some Notes
And while we’re on the subject of lengthy speeches about topics that candidates are passionate about – here’s another.
One hiring manager got more than he bargained for when interviewing for a Lotus Notes developer. For those who don’t know, Lotus Notes is (or more accurately, was) an application suite which included email, calendar, database and more.
Lotus Notes developers were often scarce and hard to come by, so getting one to interview was brilliant. That was, until…
Instead of complying with the tried and tested interview format of questions followed by answers, one candidate decided to forge his own path. He ditched the conventional method of interviewing and instead decided to give a impromptu presentation on Lotus Notes. Not a quick summary, mind you, a full 30 minute presentation – slides and everything!
And when the interviewers tried to return to their script, the candidate replied with: “No, don’t worry. It’s in the presentation.”
“Do You Mind If I Take This Call?”
While it doesn’t happen often, candidates are sometimes made a job offer during the interview. And that is exactly what happens in this interview horror story… Although, probably not in the way you’d expect.
On the morning this remarkable event took place, the hiring manager awaited the interviewee. They were late for their interview. And when they did arrive, they brought with them the bitter aroma of stale alcohol – not a great first impression.
But, nevertheless, the interview proceeded as planned. And it was, by most standards, a fairly normal affair. The candidate was probably not somebody that the company would make an offer to, but there was nothing out of the ordinary about the interview itself. That was until the candidate’s phone began to ring.
“Am I alright to take this?” the candidate asked the hiring manager, who, although unimpressed, agreed. After all, it may be an emergency, life is unpredictable.
However, the most unpredictable event was about to unfold in front of her very eyes. Because she sat and watched as the candidate took a call from another company offering them a role, which they accepted – there and then.
There was little point in proceeding with the interview, as you can imagine.
“Does This Look Infected?”
Sometimes, it pays to do a little bit of due diligence before sending a candidate to a client’s company to be interviewed. And one particular recruitment agency found they’d made the right decision by requesting to meet a particular candidate before introducing them to their client.
The candidate had arrived late. And the recruitment consultant waited patiently for him to arrive. When he finally turned up at the offices, she greeted him and asked him whether, if successful, he may struggle getting to the client’s offices, who were also in the area.
The candidate replied, “No, I will be fine usually – it’s because of my football injury. I’ve hurt my toe.” But when the recruitment consultant asked him what had happened, she was not prepared for the response she received.
Because instead of a quick description of the injury, the candidate proceeded to remove his shoe and his sock. He then placed his foot upon the table to show the poor recruitment consultant his fetid toe injury in great detail.
Sorry, I should have asked – you’re not eating your lunch are you?
An Interview Of An Unexpected Variety
On a less gross note, you will probably have heard this story before, but it’s so brilliant I couldn’t help but feature it in this list of interview horror stories. And if you haven’t seen it before, let me start by saying – you’re welcome.
This one occurred at the BBC offices in 2006. Guy Goma had arrived for a job interview. Unfortunately for him, he had arrived at the same time as somebody named Guy Kewney was scheduled to be interviewed on live TV.
So what happened when poor old Guy Goma said at reception: “Hi, my name’s Guy, I’m here for an interview”? Well, you can find out in the video below:
The Importance Of Listening More And Talking Less
We’ll wrap up this list of interview horror stories with a lesson in why sometimes it’s better to keep it short and sweet. Now, there is nothing wrong in providing detail in your interview answers. In fact, it can really help the recruitment process to give hiring managers a good overview of who you are, what you’ve done and what you know.
But as with everything, there is a line. With that in mind, here is a candidate who fearlessly crossed that line and didn’t look back.
This particular candidate was something of a chatter-box, to say the least. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to be conversational and easy to get along with. People tend to like it. However, he was talkative enough that his recruitment consultant thought it worthwhile to advise him to “talk a bit less, and listen a little more” during his upcoming interview.
Easy enough, right? You would think. However, after spending 45 minutes answering the FIRST question that the interviewers asked him, they decided that it was probably time to call it a day on the interview.
He didn’t get the job, but he did have a lovely chat.