Worst Job Interviews EverJune 24, 2014
The world’s worst job interviews
We’ve all had a nightmare interview. Here, Rhodri Marsden, collector of Twitter anecdotes, recounts his favourite stories
Human beings rarely encounter situations as nerve-racking as job interviews. The terror coursing through the candidates’ bodies makes them blurt out inappropriate phrases, break wind, fall over, or all three simultaneously. Their brains become free spirits, generating unhelpful nervous energy.
But interviewers also have the capacity to turn up drunk, or to visualise you naked, or ask you to do something pointless like bring something that’s green and describes you. Most job interviews are just people, in a room, being useless. And when people demonstrate their uselessness, stories are born. Here are the very best from my Twitter research.
@MissInformed11: While conducting an interview the candidate asked me “Do you get many death threats?” It was an inbound call company. Selling stationery.
@jeres: I had an interview at WHSmith. At the end I was asked who the most important person in the shop was. I said “Mr Smith?”
@KennoUK: Absent-mindedly twirling my pen around, I got the ends mixed up and drew a fake beard on myself while asking questions.
@paddyjohnston: A friend of mine told a customer in a mock selling exercise at a shoe shop interview that the trainers he had could repel magpies.
@DJBogtrotter: I watched a drunk salesman dodge lasers like a fat Tom Cruise while failing to demonstrate a burglar alarm I was supposed to sell.
@Gary_Bainbridge: My interviewer told me he had just given the job to the previous candidate. We ended up talking about cancer for 30 minutes.
@matbeal: My favourite was a friend who was asked what her weaknesses were. She replied, “Jazz hands!” (With accompanying gesture.)
@ledavies: I conducted one where the candidate asked for two weeks off in December (it was May) so he could free his wife who had been kidnapped.
@raffers: I collected the candidate from reception. He barked at me: “Coffee, sexy. Now, where’s your boss?” I then sat down to interview him.
@nitsohara: I interviewed one woman for an admin job who had a picture of herself on her CV. In a leopard-print bra top drinking a bottle of Bud.
@AllDesignPrint: I was asked, “If you could be an animal, what would it be?” I replied,”What sort of a stupid question is that?” Didn’t get the job.
@redskyatnight: I once confidently told an interviewer that I’d read a book he’d mentioned. He pointed out it hadn’t been published yet. Or even written.
@sesp: I panicked when asked for my biggest weakness. Told them it was a “vague but common feeling of melancholy”. Got the job.
@Cronyn: Realised halfway through a job interview that I’d had sex with the boss’s daughter. And he knew it, and hated me.
@Greg_Callus: Given job at an interview by a bar manager. Didn’t hear. Went to see them. He’d been fired for pretending to be the manager. He’d hired three people. No jobs.
@thomhoffman: 16 years old, first interview at McDonald’s, not used to handshaking, instinctively did the upturned ‘bro’ style handshake. Rejected.
@achknalligewelt: Knocked over the pen tidy on the desk. Took the interviewer a whole minute to put them back. Then I knocked it over again. Got the job.
@RupertJTaylor: I was once asked to sing my favourite song at an interview for a job selling utilities. I sang it (badly) then walked out.
@twinofKimbo: I was told by one of the members of the interview panel that I got my current job because I was “the least worst”.
@dignut: Mistakenly turned up a month early for an interview at M&S. They gave me the job.
@thehane: When asked what she wanted to be when she was a child, the candidate responded: “I wanted to be a fairy. No, Queen Of The Fairies.”
@manytypesoftea: In my worst interview ever, the person interviewing me got the job.
@startimeash: I interviewed a guy for a programming job. He failed all the test questions, then gave me a list of ones that “I should have asked”.
@yourskiesrmine: I interviewed a man who seemed OK. At end he asked if the fact he was Jesus and needed to spread the word of God was a problem. It was.
@capt_downtime: Interviewer: “We’ll need to speak to your previous line manager to see what kind of impression you made. Who was it?” Me: “Um, you.”
@jhedelstein: The interviewer wrote my name at top of a notebook page. Took no notes. Halfway through, crossed my name out.
@achknalligewelt: Phone interview with RBS. In the middle of a complex maths question, my cat clawed my leg. I yelled “You f*cking c*nt!” at him. The line went dead.
@Greg_Callus: Late for second round interview with Network Rail. I was asked why and I told them it was their fault.
@solace_aderyn: I was once asked in an interview if I thought that my moon being in Scorpio was to blame for my rebellious nature.
@DaleyAFC: The interview went so well I got cocky, and when the interviewer gave me my suit jacket from the rack I turned so he could put it on me. No job.
@DJBogtrotter: I had to supply a hair sample for drugs test. When I mentioned that I’m bald they said, “We’ll just have to get it from somewhere else.”
@DivertingLife: Was asked during an interview what I had been doing that day. I told the truth: shearing sheep. I’ve never seen anyone laugh so hard.
@benptooey: An interview with Microsoft. I was asked if I’d change anything about them. Said, “I’d get rid of Internet Explorer.” Didn’t get the job.
@Feeoreee: Even though I was talking loudly, he repeated, “Could you speak up?” This was after wheeling himself across the room and hiding his face. Surreal.
@dansumption: A friend once had an acid flashback (10yrs after last dropping LSD). The interviewer sneezed. My friend saw horses fly out of his nose.
@AusMossy: I was interviewing when an applicant gave a poor answer. Amother panel member said: “This is an interview, you’re supposed to lie to us.”
@EdClarke57: After reading the results of the Myers-Briggs type test I’d just done, the interviewer started by asking me if I was all right.
@dancingbear76: My friend was asked “What is your favourite fish?” He replied: “To eat or to look at?” This threw them. Outcome: no job.
@FoolEnglish: A friend was interviewed for medical school. The panel asked how he handled stress. “I drink heavily. Doesn’t everyone?” Got in.
@pearcafe: A friend interviewed a guy for a waiter position. “What’s your biggest weakness?” “The ladies.”
@death_stairs: I realised I didn’t want the job. I was asked what my strengths were. I said, “Hiding, and deflecting gamma rays”
@ManRepublik: I had a female interviewer who leant forward to shake my hand. I misread the situation and kissed her on the cheek. Didn’t get the job
@rococopacetic: During an interview with my brother, a guy spat repeatedly into his own briefcase until my brother screamed “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”
@HouseofLard: At the end of an interview for a promotion I was asked if I had any questions. I said, “When do I start?” Failed.
@Bradders_A: I asked the candidate: “When did you last use your initiative?” Answer: “Once I cleaned up some creosote. I was proud.”
“He threw water on me”
Another of lord sugar’s allies reveals what can happen when faced with a nervous interviewee
Matthew Riley: “I interviewed a guy for a PR job, and he was so nervous that he threw a glass of water over me trying to shake my hand. He started asking me personal questions and kept trying to dry me with his tie. Halfway through I said, ‘Look, let’s just start again.’ So he gets up, shakes my hand, walks out, and then comes back in smiling. I never meant leave the room! Second time around, it was worse if anything.”
“I had a bleeding hand”
One of Lord Sugar’s trusted interviewers from the apprentice reveals his own worst experience
Claude Littner: “In the Eighties, I was interviewed by Terry Maher. He was quite famous and I got so nervous that I started picking at my thumb until it bled. Panicked I wrapped it in a handkerchief to stem the flow of blood, then in comes Maher wanting to shake my hand. He looks at my thumb hanky with disgust and I whip it off to reveal a bleeding hand, which he refuses to shake. Completely unsettled me. I ended up telling him I didn’t want the job, I think.”