What Happened at Your Absolute Worst Job Interview?
One of the most intense experiences a person can have is attending a job interview. You try your best to impress the boss and land a fantastic job. As expected, these situations can lead to some awkward moments. These Redditors had some of the worst experiences during their job interviews. The awkwardness wasn’t enough to break their spirits in finally finding work, though.
The Heat Is On
I went to a PHP programming interview. They asked me to perform a series of tasks, which were run by an automated testing platform. It took me two of four given hours. On my last question, the whole platform did the equivalent of a blue screen, and it lost ALL of my work. I kindly explained to the interviewer what happened, and he said, "Oh, my..." and went to work on recovering my lost questions.
Fast-forward 10 minutes. They pull me into a face-to-face interview with the CEO. I sat down and felt uncomfortable and noticed there was a heater on my crotch, turned up FULL BLAST. I didn't get the job.
Sleeping on the Job
HR moved my interview up two hours the day of because the manager of the department I was applying for had finished his meeting early. I get there in time, but it’s obvious that the manager cut his meeting short so he could grab a nap before the interview (until HR realized he had an "opening"). Manager is practically falling asleep and HR is trying to salvage the interview.
Didn’t get the job. Heard that the position was filled by a gas station attendant that the manager had met that night on his way home. She was then promptly fired on her first day for showing up in very trashy, inappropriate work attire.
Interview After Interview
This one I truly blame on the company that brought me on. I was a senior in undergrad and was brought across the country for a full-day interview. They told me to prepare a two-hour presentation for this position. This was for a GNC (guidance navigation and control) position. In the job requisition, they asked for signal-processing experience, which I said I had none. They said that was fine and they could teach that later.
So I go and give my presentation. Two hours is a ton for an undergrad project, coupled with the fact that, instead of being in front of a few people, the room had at least 20 people in it. I was only able to keep the presentation going for 1 hour. I just didn't have enough content. I got grilled for that one.
Following this presentation, I proceeded to have six interviews with three people back-to-back-to-back for an hour each. And every single interview started with "So, I notice you don't have any signal-processing experience. Why don't I ask you this signal-processing question?" Even though I had specifically stated that I did not know anything about signal processing. It was bad and I knew the interview went poorly.
By the end of this interview experience, I was absolutely exhausted. The last interview, I couldn't answer any questions. I knew I had failed. Before I had even boarded the plane to go home, I got the rejection email.
The Elephant in the Room
In high school, I interviewed for a part-time job working at an indoor playground for kids. They asked me what my favorite animal was. I said, "Elephant." They then asked me to stand up and pretend I was an elephant... They wanted me to get down on all fours and make the noises and everything. I replied, "Yeah... I’m not going to do that. I’ll escort myself out." And I left.
It's Time to Panic
Most of my interviews have been pretty successful, but with one interview I had a few years ago, I just got so nervous right before that I was sitting in the waiting room hyperventilating. I had to go out in the stairwell and catch my breath. This sudden realization that you are about to meet someone, and depending on how that meeting goes, they will give you a much better life? I just panicked.
I actually calmed down and did pretty well in the interview. I got along well with the interviewer; they just found someone with more experience. A few weeks later, I found the same job for the same money with a five-minute commute instead of an hour-long commute.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
There was a position as a personal assistant in a pretty interesting branch of Parliament in Ottawa. They have this huge bell tower, and I’d potentially be working with the person who plays the actual instrument every morning and would have a little office in that building.
I go to the interview. The lady gives me a huge tour of probably an hour and a half, so it was almost like a walking meet and greet. I get a visitor badge so I can get through all the security and everything.
Throughout the interview, I kept trying to make conversation to get to know her, but it was just failure after failure. We weren't hitting it off. She brings me up to the bell tower place, where the carillon is, and says, "So at this hour, we strike this note, and it'll ring the chimes for everyone to hear." She lets me hit it, but I didn't hit it loudly enough. Then I hit it like three times in a row out of anxiety. She was like, "Oh, okay. Just hit it once — stop, oh wait, stop!" She was nice enough to call me back saying that I didn't get the job but that I was an interesting, creative character she wanted to work with.
Don't Fumble the Interview
I once had an interview for a job at a hotel/casino in downtown Vegas. It was an 8 a.m. interview. I got to the manager's office and was introduced to him. He's watching a football game on a good-sized flat-screen TV. I sit down to my interview in a chair that is directly between him and the television. At no time does he turn it off or even turn the sound down. And as he's (quite disinterestedly) asking me questions, he's clearly trying to look around me to watch the game.
Part of me wonders if this was some sort of test. Maybe he was looking for someone to tell him to turn that thing off and pay attention to what he was doing. But I doubt it.
Can You Hear Me Now?
I had a phone interview with an actuarial consultant 10 or 15 years ago. It quickly became obvious there were going to be communication issues. They had me on speakerphone, and every time I started talking, I couldn't hear anything from their end. It was like their mic was muted while I was talking, and it wouldn't come back on until about a second after I stopped. There was no way of knowing if they were trying to interject while I was speaking. Also, the first word or two of every sentence was cut off. I probably sounded like an idiot constantly asking them to repeat themselves.
To top this off they asked me one of those "think outside the box" questions: Estimate how many gas stations are in the United States. I came up with an answer that was off by about a factor of 5, and I probably didn't explain my thought process very well.
I didn't receive a callback. If I had been older and more experienced (like now), I would have immediately informed them of the problem with their phone and asked them to call me back in some other way.
Jordan Wouldn't Be Impressed
A friend of mine had helped start a sports marketing company, and I wanted to start working there once it got established. I talked to him, and he got me an interview with a group of people (including himself). So the interview finally starts, and I'm really nervous. I'm stumbling over their basic questions, making myself look way worse than I am. My buddy pulls me aside and tells me to relax and compose myself. I go back in, and everyone is really cool about it.
They allow me to "start over." Everything is going great, until I grab a basketball from the shelf and shoot at the goal they had in the office. I miss, and the ball goes straight into the fish tank. Never have I wanted to die as much as I did in that moment. Amazingly, I still ended up getting the job. I love the company and my coworkers, and the fish tank incident is now just a joke we share together.
This Isn't a Game
I had an interview with a video game company. Working in the game industry, I was shocked at how casual most companies are. They would laugh at how formally I tried to approach interviews and end up having a good time.
The mistake was on my end when I expected the interview to be more fun and casual. It was not. There's nothing wrong with this, but this company takes a very sterile and professional approach to the industry, and I'm sure I came off as an idiot bro who doesn't take it seriously. Truly embarrassing.
This Boss Is out of Touch
I went to college to work in HR. After interning some and doing a brief stint in HR for a large area company, I go to a job interview with the CEO of a small local hospital. I walk in the room and he does not stand up and shake my hand. Okay, that's fine. But then he starts off by asking, "Where does your husband work?" This is an illegal question, so I don't know if he is testing me or being serious.
I answer and tell him where my husband works, as a lot of people start off unknowingly saying illegal things in the warm-up to the interview. He then makes a comment about women my age needing to be at home with their kids. Again, not legal, but by the look on his face I can tell this is not a test. He is genuinely this stupid. The rest of the interview was basically him telling me why I did not need this job. He never asked me any questions at all about my resume or education. At this point, I did not argue or try to convince him otherwise. I did not want to work for this person.
Wrong Business, Pal
I was recommended by a friend for an interview as a designer at an apparel company. During the interview I kept referring to them as the direct competitor. Interviewer was nice enough to let me know only at the end of the interview. Cue jaw drop and embarrassed laughter. Surprisingly, I still got the offer a week after, but I turned it down eventually. I really don't know anything about these brands anyway.
Getting Their Schedule Twisted
I had interviewed for a benefits company. I had a phone interview, an HR interview and a manager interview, which was the last interview before they made a decision. I felt I did well in all three interviews. The scheduling representative for these interviews was not the best. He didn't get the times right, and he didn't let the interviewer know. He called me after the manager interview and asked me to come in "for a second interview with the manager." I was confused but didn't question it as I know sometimes they may want another interview.
So I show up, thinking this is a good sign and maybe I am being considered. I get led upstairs. As I enter the room the manager says, "I thought I let them know that you were not being considered for the position. But since you are here, you can just interview again." This was pretty much an "our representative messed up and we feel bad, so out of pity, you can interview again" interview. I was so embarrassed, but I was there and didn't know what to do. So I interviewed, even though he made it clear I wasn't going to be hired. I kept it together long enough to get in my car before completely breaking down.
In Too Deep
When I was 19, I interviewed for a sales position at a phone store. It was going well until my interviewer wanted to role play and have me sell her a phone. She ended up getting frustrated with me for not sticking to a generic spec rundown and going too in-depth with what her character would actually need in a phone. Didn't get the job but ended up getting hired six years later as a software systems engineer. I guess it pays to go in-depth.
As Boring as Watching Paint Dry
The interviewers asked me, "If your friends could describe you in one word, what would they say and why?" I said something along the lines of, "Responsible. Because any time we're out, I'll usually schedule the plans and make sure everyone is accommodated. I don't drink so I'm generally the designated driver."
One of the interviewers then said, "Just sounds like you're boring," and they proceeded to laugh. I wasn't offered the job, which was probably for the best.
You Deserve Less
I sat down to interview for my dream job, for a job I almost qualified for. I was hoping a good impression would go a long way.
Halfway through the interview, they stopped and said they had made a mistake. I was supposed to be in the pile for a much lower position in the company, and I had accidentally been scheduled to interview. They apologized and said I could check back in a week or two about the entry-level position.
I was a little crushed.
Apps Are Taking Over the Workplace
I had an interview for a position I was qualified for, had a quick phone "interview" and then was told that the actual interview would require me to download an app on my phone. You get 60 seconds to read a question and then five minutes to record your answer.
International company. Very well-known and reputable. Hands down, the most awkward interview I’ve ever had. Without the ability to "read the room" and zero interaction, I totally bombed. Never heard back. The whole thing felt very disconnected and impersonal.
An Unfortunate Meeting
When I reapplied to a company I left, I was asked to describe a conflict I had with somebody. I told my story about how I was on medical leave and a project manager was causing a ruckus with my manager about how I was behind on work. We had an agreement for a one-month turnaround, and I had about two weeks left. They needed it right then.
After a few arguments, my group ended our work agreement with that project manager, resulting in the project manager contracting out that work. Since I was on leave, I didn't see who that project manager was. One of the interviewers had a sour face after that story. Turns out that guy was the project manager. I didn't get a follow-up call.
Not Dressed to Impress
I was 16 years old, interviewing for a job at a snack bar in a gym. I was wearing a polo and jeans. Nothing fancy, but I didn't look amazing. I show up and am told to wait; the interviewer would be right out. So I wait. And wait. And wait. Almost two full hours later, the dude shows up in a full suit and says, "You're not dressed professionally enough for this interview. Leave."
Everyone Has a Price
First interview out of college. I was applying to jobs on the opposite coast, so I had four interviews lined up over two days. At the end of the first one, the guy said, "I will give you $1,000 right now if you take this job and skip your other interviews." Poor little college grad me edged towards the door as the hard sell continued. If I had been thinking straight, I would have thought I needed to find out what the other jobs offered, but really I just wanted to get away from the mean man. Thankfully, interview four came with stock options. Win!
Do It From Square One
I had a recruitment agent tell me they had a job I'd be interested in. I said I was worried about the advanced MySQL requirement, as I know the basics but that's about it. They told me that they had spoken to the hiring manager, and they were more about personality than MySQL knowledge. They said they would teach any successful candidate on the fly.
I went to the interview and was asked to write a whole bunch of MySQL statements from scratch... I knew from there that the job wasn't mine.
Taking an Unexpected Break
I had an interview with a recruiter for a graduate position at the beginning of the year, and she was so condescending. Didn't even bother reading my resume before the interview, and she tried to make me feel stupid for not knowing how to do certain functions on Excel. She went to the bathroom mid-interview and didn't come back for at least 20 minutes because she was chatting with someone in the hallway. The interview was a complete waste of my time.
They Planned Ahead
The interview was for a back-office job in a medical office. It was scheduled for 9:30, and I got there around 9:15. The interviewers came out and got me around 9:45. We did the interview, and I felt it went really well. I always leave my phone in the car when I'm going on job interviews, so the first thing I did when I got to my car was check my phone. I had an email notification from the office where I just interviewed.
Expecting it to be either some sort of reminder or a thank you type of thing, I open it. It is the standard "Thank you for applying, but..." email. It was sent at 9:20, while I was sitting in the waiting area waiting for my interview. So the two interviewers knew before they even came out to meet me that I wasn't getting the job, and instead of just saying so, they went through the motions and wasted everyone's time.
Still a Delicious Meal
The guy asked me to describe how to do something in great detail. I panicked and explained how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I am sure you can guess what happened next.
At Least They Were Honest
I had an interview at a restaurant close to my house. The owner looked at me afterward and said, "You wouldn't like it. It gets really hot in the kitchen." Yeah, okay. Sorry for the fact I would be inconvenienced by your kitchen. The place is closed now, not because the food was bad, because it wasn't, but because of poor management and lack of employees. Wonder why there was a lack of employees.
A Heartbreaking Interview
I interviewed for a graphic design internship, and I had my portfolio on a flash drive from which they projected all the images from a laptop so we could all see. I had forgotten to clear off a folder with photos from a recent funeral for my grandma. Because of a weird functionality with the projector, we had to cycle through all of the .jpegs on the drive in order of the date created. The interviewers proceeded to cycle through 50+ photos of a grieving family before reaching my artwork. There was no recovering from how soul-draining all those photos were. I didn't get the gig.
Why Would She Still Want Them?
I put in an application at a fairly well-known restaurant chain and got a call back a couple days later. I show up early and get introduced to the hiring manager. She was, to put it lightly, the rudest interviewer I have ever had. She asked me the usual questions. In the middle of the interview she just told me how unprofessional my earrings were (just a simple pair of silver loops with a small blue cone at one end) and that she did not think my personality matched her ideal candidate, saying I was too shy. At this point, I knew I wasn't getting the job, but she did not end the interview.
After all her talk of unprofessionalism, she then informed me she had lost my application (back when even large chains used paper instead of online) and needed me to fill out another one. I told her I didn't have my references' contact information, and she said it wouldn't matter too much anyway. After she stopped questioning me, I tried to leave, but she yelled at me and demanded I stay and give her another finished application. I'm really glad I didn't get that position.
Making a Splash
I interviewed for a florist as a teenager. I’m quite small and so the owner kept telling me I’d struggle lifting the buckets filled with water and flowers. He then gave me a tour, showed me the storeroom and told me to pick up a bucket to get an idea of how heavy it was. Since he had kept going on about it, I severely overestimated how heavy the bucket would be. I basically flung it above my head and drenched us both in icy water and flowers.
Too Amped Up
It was scheduled at a coffee shop near their office. I got there early and decided to get a coffee. I sat down at a table while I waited instead of awkwardly just standing there. By the time the interviewer showed up, I was pretty amped up. It had been a long time since I'd had coffee in the middle of the day, so even though I wasn't nervous, I rambled on for every answer. I thought I nailed it. It wasn't until the next day that I realized how badly I'd blown it. Next time, I'll stick with tea.
Cookies Are Serious Business
I just had a seasonal job interview for a retail store, and it was horrible. The hiring manager comes in, starts asking questions, interrupts and starts talking on her mic. No biggie, but she did it like five times and once was because someone brought in cookies and she told them to save her some. She then proceeds to curse like a sailor and interrupt me some more.