30 “Job Interviews From Hell”, As Shared By Applicants And Employees Online
Unless you were born rich, you’ll know just how much of a necessary evil job interviews are. I say evil because, for many of us, it’s a draining experience—like a leech, it feeds on our life essence, inevitably leading us into a lifetime of servitude to corporate Utopian dictatorship. Or something.
But work is hard, and getting work is sometimes even harder because there are too many things that can go wrong during a job interview. And it’s not just you—it’s the interviewer who can also pull a doozy.
Whatever the case, folks were recently talking about it, and so below are some of the juiciest stories from a viral thread on Mumsnet. Enjoy!
More Info: Mumsnet
I went for an interview in a bank (I was 19) and was wearing ballet pump type shoes, somehow really thumped my little toe/foot off the door frame on the way in. I was sat in agony, trying to ignore it. Stood up to leave, blood had soaked through my shoe into the carpet and the top of my foot had changed colour.
The Area Manager who was sat in on the interview drove me to hospital, then sat with me. I'd broken my toe and metatarsal! She then drove me home, picked up my Mam and took her to the bank to retrieve my car.
I got the job! Lovely woman.
Interviewing for a position that would involve working with children, the interview was held in a childrens support center, they had cahms services there as well as physio and OT etc.
I was ushered into a waiting room that had lots of baby/toddler aimed toys, like bouncy chairs, duplo blocks, light up plastic toys and a lot of jack in the boxes.
The woman who showed me where to go said that someone would be there to interview me shortly, she then left.
About ten minutes later a boy who looked about 13 walked in and sat on one of the other sofas. I said Hi and asked if he was alright, he nodded, said 'yeah fine' got his phone out and angled himself away from me.
We sat there for another 10 minutes and the original woman came back and said I could leave as they didn't think I was the right fit for the company.
Apparently the boy (her son) had been part of the interview, a test to see how I engaged with children- they had been waiting for me to use the toys to interact with him.
Weirdest set up, but I was definitely not going to be the right fit if they wanted someone who would approach a random teenager in a waiting room with a jack in the box.
I was just a kid, ridiculously nervous, flat out fainted, came round to my prospective boss straddling me, fanning my face furiously with a cosmopolitan shouting "ring her mother"
They sent me away in a taxi, I went back 2 days later, got the job and stayed for 16 years, only leaving when the boss retired.
Mine is quite recent. Remote interview in my home office over Zoom, my son had apparently left a toy in the room. It was a farting ninja. I ignored it at first as I was answering a question but then I had to say I’m so sorry my sons farting toy keeps going off I’m just going to remove it from the room.
I got the job 😆
As candidate (1985). 'What does your boyfriend do, does he mind you working late, are you planning kids?' Me: 'ha ha ha, you know you can't ask those questions?' Didn't get job, didn't want it.
Bored Panda reached out to Marisa Eckberg PHR, SHRM-CP, founder and CEO of Grey Owl HR, to talk all things job interviews and the role of human resources in this whole process of getting and doing a job.
“The job of HR… HR is responsible for the humans that work for a company from the moment we attract the candidate to a job to the time they leave the company,” explains Eckberg about what it really means to be an HR. “We are responsible for the policies, how the Company sets their strategy and how people in the company are managed. We touch everything from recruiting, onboarding, training, making sure everyone is paid fairly and on time, coach leaders on how to manage their teams properly, make sure that working for the Company is attractive with medical/dental/vision, 401K, paid time off, etc.”
“HR is a lot of kind of ‘behind the scenes’ work, and not every HR department in every company looks or functions the same. Some have one person doing everything, some have outsourced to an HRO or PEO, some have whole teams doing only one part of HR, like the talent acquisition team or the payroll team, and still some don’t have a dedicated HR department at all.”
I’ve interviewed a lot and had some very odd candidates.
I’ve also had some cracking interviews as a candidate. One I was called back for second interview with the HR director and the person who would be my line manager. I arrived 10 minutes early and the receptionist sat me in a waiting area just out of sight of the reception desk. While I was waiting someone appeared at reception and asked the receptionist for a report she had been working on. She went to print it and the printer jammed, the person looking for the report called her for everything, shouting, swearing and being a complete arse. A couple of minutes later I was ushered into the interview with said arse. I sat down, thanked them for inviting me and explained I didn’t think their ethos would suit me and left. The HR director called me to ask why I had left, she bloody knew what had happened, the whole office must have heard it.
I was just walking up to the door of the company for my interview, too late to turn back as the guy had already seen me approaching through the glass doors, so I smiled and then I felt the splat as I opened the door, a bird had just pooped on my shoulder and it was running down my front.
He did see and got me some tissue and at the end of the interview told me apparently it's meant to be good luck (who knew) and that it had been for me as I was offered the job, it's never been mentioned since.
One of the first jobs I went for when I was a teenager was for a waitress at a local hotel. When I got there the guy interviewing me took me into a bedroom and closed the door. Then asked if I wanted to sit on the chair or the bed. I chose the chair. (He sat in the bed) I can't remember a single question or how I answered I just remember feeling quite scared. I didn't get the job.
I applied for a job in an art gallery owned by a couple. In the interview the man sat opposite me and the woman sat beside me and I could sense her staring at my profile. Very odd but took a decided turn when he asked me about my partner and "how would I cope financially if we split up"? 🤨 Then the woman said, "do you always wear your hair like that?" 🤔😒
They kept chasing me for a second interview, but no thanks!
As an interviewer, I once interviewed someone who answered their phone halfway through. Good grief.
I have had a few! The one that made me really angry though was an interview my DS attended with a well known charitable organisation. Part of the interview was held outdoors on a very hot, very sunny day. The two short listed candidates, my DS and another person were sat round as the interviewer asked them various questions. My DS didn’t get the position, fair enough though he thought the interview went well. When he asked for feedback he was told he didn’t get the job because the interviewer couldn’t see his eyes during questioning. My DS’s prescription specs had reacted in the sunlight to darken into sunglasses. He is blind as a bat without his specs and has to wear them. Turned out subsequently that the other candidate was the sister of the interviewer and strangely she was offered the position!
Needless to say, HR’s job is anything but easy. Just imagine having to be responsible for everything from finding, drawing in, managing and keeping talent engaged at work to also keeping up overall morale, organizing perks and events for employees, liaisoning between them and management, and the like. Sure, these are different profiles of the job, but it’s all in the scope of HR. So, you might want to excuse some awkwardness during job interviews.
“The biggest challenge, I think, is attracting and retaining employees,” elaborated Eckberg. “There is a lot that goes into retaining employees—getting them hired is only half the battle. Every person at the company is an individual with their own needs and wants, likes and dislikes, backgrounds and career goals. Making the workplace somewhere that employees WANT to be and WANT to spend their precious time away from the things that are important to them is critical for HR these days. First you have to get employees to trust you enough to share what they need and want in a workplace and then you’ve got to convince management to invest in those things. It is a constant balancing act.”
An interviewer once asked me "if your friends were to describe you as a vegetable, which vegetable would it be and why?" I just looked at him a bit flabbergasted and he said "ok, let's move on". Didn't get the job funnily enough.
I've had interviews when I was dead nervous but relaxed when I realised that the interviewer was more nervous than me and I sort of helped them out by talking about myself and my CV and answering questions they might want to know. First one when I was about 22 for a temp job. Got the job. I suddenly felt like a proper grown up after that.
Once I interviewed someone for a senior PR role who showed up to the interview with her husband as she didn't want to get the train on her own. We didn't have a reception so he sat in our office while people were working while she did her interview. He was very awkward and shy and the whole thing was just weird.
I couldn't fathom why, even if he got the train down with her that he came to the office too, why not go sit in a cafe and wait?
I once had a full day interview with group activities and challenges including being shut alone in a windowless room to complete a written task (they called the room the 'cell'). This was for what was basically an entry-level admin job, not head of CIA! I didn't get the position. They did write to apologise and they said there would not be a repeat of this interview style.
They handed me a muffin and told me to stand up and sell it to them for 30 seconds. It wasn't a sales job.
If you’ve been on the internet long enough, you’ll be aware of places like r/AntiWork, where people share all things work-free life. There, as well as in several other places, you’ll often hear the idea that the task of an HR is not to help employees, but rather to protect the company. So, we asked Eckberg to comment on the reality of the statement:
“Look, whoever said that whole ‘HR is not your friend’—I always think to myself, who told you we were your friend? HR is a department or function just like any other within the company—finance, IT, Marketing. Again, we walk a very thin line between ensuring both the employees and the company are protected.”
“And just like any job—there are HR pros out there that are great at what they do, and there are others that maybe should reconsider their career choices. Anyone who has worked in a company with the latter will definitely feel like HR is ‘only there to protect the company and don’t care’. But we’re not all like that.”
“My suggestion is to keep the mindset that HR is just like any other department at a company, and they are employees of the same company as you. Sometimes the same complaints you have are the same as ours.”
My first job, working for a well-known catalogue place - ie. Argos. Told to bring something that encapsulated us as a person. Obviously people (normal people) half-assed it, brought in key rings like oh so I enjoy going on holiday… etc.
I brought in a huge encyclopaedia of film from 1918 to 2006 and breathlessly told everyone about how much I loved Fritz Lang’s films. You have to imagine this awkward shy 16 year old rabbiting on about the making of Metropolis, in a room of barely-concealed smirks. I got a job (desperate for staff) and proceeded to be pushed around, bullied by management and other employees, and cornered and sexually harassed multiple times in the stockroom.
They must have looked at this earnest kid and thought “yeah how can we break
Oh and someone once asked me what my parents did for a living. Like that's relevant to MY ability to do the job.
I was 18 and applied for a trainee position at the London branch of an International bank, it was advertised in one of those free magazines which were given out at tube stations, 9 to 5 I think... anyhow I turned up for the interview which had 2 people on the panel, the CEO and supervisor of department... I was asked why I would like to work for a bank (I had no idea it was a bank and had done no research as Internet was very limited in late 90's)... I replied with "oh I didn't know it was a bank!"... their company name even had Bank in their title which should haven been a slight clue for me Confused
Anyhow interviewers smirked at each other and they still offered me the job! They later said they appreciated my naivety and I ended up staying there for quite a few years and wised up in the process!
I got locked out my house about an hour before an interview so had to borrow my friends too small trousers. As I sat down in the silent room they very loudly unzipped. Everyone looked down at me now flying low. I was too embarrassed to zip up so just carried on. I got the job and they all took the piss in the pub!
Two years later, pretty much the same panel I went for an interview. We all knew each other well by then. I am quite annoyingly chatty. But on the first question justfrozen and sat in silence opening and shutting my mouth like a goldfish. Until one if them said "quietest you've ever been" which we all laughed at and I remembered how to speak. Got that job too 😁
I took a sip of water in an interview once and it went down the wrong way and I spent at least 5 minutes coughing and spluttering all over the table. Never been so embarrassed, they kept asking if i was OK and I couldn't answer!
“Not all of us are ‘evil HR ladies’ just waiting to get you in trouble or screw up your benefits deductions or just make your life difficult in general. Most of us want to make sure people that work at a company are treated fairly and that the work environment is one everyone wants to be in… including us,” added Eckberg.
At the end of the day, everyone in the company is responsible for the work environment they create—there isn’t a specific role like manager or HR who are supposed to be doing all the work. According to the Swedish Work Environment Authority, while the employer is responsible for the bulk of shaping the work environment, employees and employers still have to work together to make it happen in general. It’s an “everyone gets to play” sort of mentality that was proven to work in the long run, so employees are encouraged to stay realistic with their expectations of the work environment.
Graduate assessment day.
We had to play a risk board game. It was massive board on the table, we had pieces/ dice etc - we worked in pairs - making decisions on investments and things. About 12 people in total playing. 3 invigilators. No discussion over why we were playing the game. I didn't know how we were being assessed, I thought it was like a collaboration thing.
I was very excited and animated during the game and I knocked over an entire jug of water across the whole board game.
I got the job. Later told that risk taking was my development area (nothing to do with collaboration) but they were so taken by coolness under pressure, and the fact that other than getting some tissues to clean up, and break to apologise to everyone - I kept on playing.
I just really enjoyed the game! Haha.
I went for an interview the day I moved out of a flatshare. I did a quick wipe round of the kitchen before I went. A bit later the interviewer stared in astonishment as orange spots appeared on my navy trousers where I'd splashed them with bleach.
About 20 years ago, I went for a job interview in events organising. I thought it went pretty well. Towards the end I was asked "Are you a girly girl?" The question kinda flustered me, I'm not a girly girl, but the meaning of girly girl is, I guess, subjective, some might even find it offensive, I didn't know, so I stammered out something non-commital. "Oh I only ask because there are a lot of girly girls here and you might find them difficult to fit in with."
Anyway I was offered the job and turned it down on the basis of that comment! Got something slightly higher paying a week later. Still don't really understand what they meant or what, if anything, they were trying to tell me!
Not me but a friend of mine. Interview for a promotion in a uniformed organisation which his wife also worked for.
Took a beautifully ironed shirt out of the wardrobe and hung it on the hook in his car intending to change into it when he got to the venue as he didn't want to risk any creases. On arrival he found out he'd brought his wife's shirt and not his own! Had to go through the interview in a much too tight shirt although it was certainly an ice breaker and he got the promotion!
I once interviewed a chap on zoom and as soon as came on, we could see he was outside and there was a loud whooshing noise behind him. We asked him where he was and he explained he was working a summer job at a beach bar in an overseas resort (the whooshing sound was the Sea).
We decided to persist with the interview and about 5 minutes in, he pauses while a man in the background starts shouting at him. He tells us it's his boss and he'd bunked off from work to do the interview and his boss had just discovered him round the back of the building. The boss kept shouting so he had to end the call.
Not surprisingly we didn't offer him the job. 😂
Lastly, we asked Eckberg if she had any advice for those currently on the job hunt, and she had this to say:
“Actually, I welcome a little awkward, funny or weird—be yourself in interviews. You are gonna be spending 40+ hours there a week—life is too short to conform to what someone else has dictated as ‘professional’. I encourage hiring managers to relax during interviews too—send the interview questions to the candidate before the interview, for example—it calms the nerves a bit and allows everyone to relax and have a conversation (might avoid some of the awkwardness too).”
Went for a job interview in a big city hospital. The interviewer was a male. I’ve walked in and sat down a bit nervous but excited. He’s looking at me like the cats who’s got the cream. all big smiles, wide eyed and overtly enthusiastic for me too take the job with an immediate start of that afternoon.
no reference check, police check or WWCC check.
i tell him I would love to take the job. I can start right away. I walk outside, all excited about how I had pulled off the impossible, I feel a breeze blow on my tummy. I look down and my shirt only has one button buttoned up, the rest are still undone. Leaving my boobs fully exposed. I’m a size E. So lots of boobie exposed.
I was so nervous before the interview I had forgotten to do my shirt up. I still blush and cringe whenever I see a man in a white shirt sleeves rolled up. It was almost 30 years ago now. Feels like yesterday
I never did take the job in the end.
My weirdest interview never even got going. Went for a job as admin for a debt collection agency. Was taken to a separate floor with a huge open plan office that looked like it wasn't in use and was left there, sitting on a chair in the middle of the room with no one else there. Interviewer came in after about 10 mins, sat down and asked me what my current salary was. I told her, she said they weren't offering as much as that and we might as well not continue. And that was that!
Many years ago, when “disabled” meant purely in a wheelchair or mobility impaired I applied for a job. I mistakenly ticked “yes” in the “are you disabled?” Box. Later in the form the applicant was asked to list hobbies and I said, quite correctly, that I taught dance. This whole thing makes me go “wtf” today of course. Anyway I was told later (having got the job) that the main reason I was called for interview was that they wanted to know how I could teach dance and be mobility impaired (though being the 70s they used the “c” word - the one with 8 letters, not 4!)
I got asked by the final interviewer (the CEO) if I was stuck on a desert island, which of the previous rounds of interviewers would be most useful to be stuck with, and who would be the least useful (previous rounds being an HR person, the head of HR, and the general counsel....). If he was asking all candidates I guess he was also doing a nice little play assessing his current staff too....
I had been warned by the recruiter that the interview style was unusual so at least I wasn't completely thrown by this and I got the job.
Interviewing a candidate for a Child Development Officer in a nursery (Scotland). She had a degree in English literature and a second degree in Childhood Practice.
I asked, "What is your understanding of a Curriculum for Excellence?"
She answered, "Well it's the various curricular areas like maths, literacy, science and all that."
I then asked, "Yes, but what is your understanding of its ethos?"
She replied, "Well it's the various curricular areas like I said. I mean - I have been writing about it in uni for the past 4 years!" She then looked proper put out at my perceived impertinence.
No - she did NOT get the job (despite looking like a fantastic applicant on paper).
Note: this post originally had 40 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.