what was your worst interview?

When I was 21, I interviewed for a job as a “bulletin board administrator.” This was in 1995, when the Internet was just starting to become mainstream, and online “bulletin boards” were as common as blogs are now.

I had never used the Internet.

But the 21-year-old me was an idiot and I figured I could fake it. In a fit of embarrassing hubris, I read book about online bulletin board systems the night before and thought that would probably be sufficient.

The interview, needless to say, did not go well. And I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even know enough to be mortified at the time.

We’ve all had interviews we just never should have been in … or interviews where they could have gone well if only we hadn’t somehow turned into a huge tool upon walking in the door … or interviews that were ruined because our interviewer was a total ass.

I want to hear about them!  Click over to my contest page to learn about the giveaway I’m running for everyone who leaves their worst interviewing story below.

And then go to it and entertain us with your stories.

{ 56 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephen*

    My worst interview was for my first "real" job when I was 16. It was for a dishwasher in a little local restaurant.
    The main point that I remember, and what made it so bad, was the dreaded "what is biggest fault". This is pre-computer era and I had NO clue what to expect… and at 16 who really thinks they have faults?!

    Anyway, I must have sat there silently for at least 5 minutes (it felt like 30) trying to come up with something and drawing a blank. I finally said something about not being an analytical thinker and the interview was pretty much over at that point. Even now at 42 I can vividly remember sitting there completely stumped by that question.

  2. Clairezilla*

    I was about 19 or 20, and was interviewing for a slew of different receptionist jobs. I was (and still am) very good at customer service, greeting visitors and providing superb admin support, but I was a bit green in the interview department.

    At a one-on-one interview my potential future boss asked, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

    I opened my big trap and said, "Well, I don't really know what I want to do for a career, but hopefully in five years I'll be married and have kids."

    You could have heard a pin drop.

  3. Laura*

    I was interviewing to be an assitant to the manager of a large truck and tractor rental place. He looked at my job history and said "you seem to leave a job after two years. How can I be sure you won't pull that same sh*t with me? You know, like the bullsh*t SHE'S doing to me!" I was so shocked, I muttered something about new opportunities etc. The interview wrapped up shortly after, I was told to expect a call, to which I replied "I'm not sure that we'd have the best work repoire. Thank you for the interview, but please take me off the list of possibilities." I saw the current assistant giggling behind his back as I left.

  4. Wahlee*

    While working my way through grad school, I applied as a receptionist for a local dermatologist. I was pleased to get a prompt phone call, and was invited to interview the next day.

    I arrived several minutes early, and was asked to fill out an application and take an office skills/editing test. After completing these, I sat in the lobby for at least 10 minutes (the office was closed for the day, so it was just me and the current front-desk person). Finally, my interviewer called me back, and we spent 10 minutes or so going over my qualifications and job history, talking about my grad studies and thesis topic, the usual. I thought it was all going rather well.

    Then came the bombshell. "Well, thanks for coming in today, but I'm sorry to say the position was filled yesterday" (i.e., in plenty of time for them to call and cancel). She then proceeded to tell me that she brought me in because she wanted to talk to someone with such amazing skills and background!

    I left feeling utterly gobsmacked that she had wasted nearly 45 minutes of my time for a job that didn't even exist, and then expected me to be complimented for it.

  5. imaBee*

    My worst interview I was 21, driving at 5 am in the morning, to the last Disney recruiters in Brazil. I hadn't slept in almost a week and had brazilian coffee, which means REAL COFFEE. I was used to waking up early cause of my state's traffic, I live uptown and every damn thing here is downtown. Anyways, there I go, fully awake, and after 12 minutes I hit a sign someone left in the middle of the street.

    My tire explodes.

    All gas stations are still closed. I wait til 6 am in the closest one, a scary worker changes the tire for me, I don't give up. It's already too late to reach SP in time when it's 7 am here.

    I keep going.

    When I get there, it's one hour to turn and park. I'm already one hour late, mr. Mickey don't like lazy people. Crying, I got back home in half the time, my mom says no way, you're calling them.

    I call them, they reschedule me. It happens all the time, some ppl have to drive from other states. Next week I go to the interview relaxed cause my finals were finally over.

    I got the job by tellin' them this very story.

  6. Evil HR Lady*

    I was in desperate need of a job, having just finished graduate school and applied to everything I possibly could.

    I was interviewing with a law firm that did "elder law" which, from what I could tell, was figuring out how to hide your assets so the gov't would pay for everything.

    As my potential boss was describing the job responsibilities I said, "That sounds really boring."

    Ummm, so shocked I did not get that job.

  7. Veralidaine*

    I had three awful interviews one right after the other one year–I was in a phase where I didn't really know what I wanted out of life and I was sort of applying to anything that would pay the bills and get me out of retail/direct sales.

    First one: I applied for a delivery driver position for a pet food company. When the owner called me for a telephone interview, she all but offered me the job, at $15/hour–a fortune, it seemed at the time, even though my gas expenses would come out of pocket. Better still, she wanted me to help with the company's newsletter and marketing! Score!

    So, headed for the in person interview, with printed Mapquest directions beside me, ignoring that I'd never once been to that part of town. At all. Her directions on the phone were Charlie Brown "Mwah mwah mwah" to me, since I had no idea what the landmarks she was talking about were.

    Yep, got hopelessly lost when attempting to get a delivery driver job. Couldn't find the place and went home to call her (I didn't have a cell phone then) and was terribly offended that she wouldn't take my call. Sent her an angry email telling her that I hoped she was ashamed of herself for letting one little mishap get in the way of her hiring me after she'd been so excited about me on the phone, and that it would be her loss when her competitors got me instead!

    (Yes, I was a teenager, how did you guess?)

    Second: I applied to work as an investigator for a DUI lawyer. Everything went well until…

    Lawyer: "And what makes you want to work in a law office?"

    Me: "Well, I watch a LOT of Court TV. I love that stuff. I mean, when there's a big trial on and I have to work during the verdict, I make my boyfriend watch it for me and call me as soon as the verdict comes back! Boy, I'm just addicted, and I'd love to be involved in helping a lawyer win cases!"

    It didn't occur to me until AFTER I left the office that he was probably a little underwhelmed with my fondness for a televised, dramatized version of his occupation, and that might have something to do with how he seemed a little lost for words throughout the rest of the interview.

    He was kind enough to call and tell me later that he'd decided not to hire any of his applicants and would continue doing his investigations himself.

    Third: I figured if I kept at it I'd get a job along those lines, so I applied to be a private investigator's assistant. Again with the office in a part of town I'd never been, with me having been driving for about six months total in my whole life, and with Mapquest directions that I thought could replace "extra time" and "some idea where I was going."

    You guessed it, got lost again. But this time I found it… after the office was clearly closed and Mr. PI had gone home for the day and, like Delivery Company Owner, wasn't taking my calls. I thought he must have stepped out on an important case, so I found my way to his (locked) office and sat outside for two hours waiting for him. Never did get a return call, or email, or anything.

    Slunk off in shame after a while and vowed to learn my way around town.

  8. Anonymous*

    Don't want to be in the running for the desk, but I need to vent about this topic!

    I recently applied to work for a women�s website a few weeks ago as a community manager (position title in posting) with editorial responsibilities. Based on said posting, I seemed to have all of the technical requirements they were looking for (background in writing for magazines, various computer systems and software, experience maintaining websites and blogs, etc.) so I sent my resume/ cover letter and was thrilled to get a call for an interview.

    How it went, the short(ish) version:
    1. I was kept waiting for 35 minutes, despite being on time and previously confirming the appointment with two separate people, including the interviewer.

    2. As soon as the interviewer brought me into her office and sat me down (without an apology for the wait), the first words out of her mouth were �Well, your background is nowhere near what we�re looking for, but we like the fact you worked at [company four years ago].�

    3. Turns out, the position had nothing to do with editorial but was actually in marketing/sales (which I�ve never done) and would ideally be filled by a MBA (which I am not).

    4. Instead of saying �Thanks but no thanks� after the above was mentioned, my interviewer continued to grill me with intensive marketing and sales-related questions. Because it�s a pretty established website, I didn�t want to be rude and just leave (maybe they would keep my resume on file for a more relevant position?), but whenever I tried to steer the conversation towards the experience I DID have, it would be turned back to this position that I thought we had both already decided I wasn�t qualified for.

    5. After over an hour of this, the interview abruptly stood up from her desk, opened the office door and said �Thanks for coming in, but you really don�t have the experience we need.� I thanked her for her time and reiterated that I hoped she would keep me in mind for future positions because I really do enjoy the website.

    6. My interviewer than invited me to friend her on Facebook.

    7. A month later I received the �Thanks for applying but we decided to go in another direction�� email.

    Sorry for the insanely long comment, but the fact that #7 happened yesterday means it�s still fresh in my mind. After all this I even went back to the original ad and gave it another read to see if I had missed some key phrases (like, I don�t know, �sales� or �marketing� or �MBA�) and, nope, if I didn�t know better I would still assume I was qualified based on what that specific posting said.

    The part that really gets me is A: why did they call me for an interview in the first place, since I obviously wasn�t qualified for the position the needed, and B: why was I kept there for an hour when my interviewer knew this going in? The position is still listed, by the by�

  9. Anonymous*

    Worst interview?….that'd have to be the one where I was offered a job in February (in writing) only to have it rescinded a few days later, after I quit my existing job. HR and the hiring manager denied everything they'd said to me. Existing job refused to let me come back. Yeah, that really puts your teenage snafus in perspective, huh?

  10. JD*

    I once interviewed for a clerk of court county government position that was way beneath my skill level, but there just weren't any other jobs in my area at the time.
    The lady I interviewed with was short and rude the whole interview, and then she started asking personal questions like are you married, do you have kids, do you go to church, and I was stammering like crazy totally surprised that she was asking these questions. After a few more I mentioned that I felt the questions were too personal and could we discuss the position. So she asked where do I see myself in 5 years and I stammered a bit more, still shaken, and she yelled out, "Do you have any dreams or aspirations at all!!!!???"
    At least I had the guts to end the interview right there and say that I didn't think I'd be a good fit for the position.

  11. Class factotum*

    Wow. Where to begin? A grad school friend used her favors and got me an interview at P&G, where she worked. She talked me up to her boss. He took me out to lunch and asked what my greatest accomplishments were.

    I told him I had lost 25 pounds after my freshman year of college.

    He told her that he didn't think I was used to interviewing.

    The thing is, I had actual accomplishments from 5 years at a Fortune 100 company. But yeah – I hadn't had a job interview in seven years.

  12. Stuart*

    To set the scene, this interview was in the late 1990s, when the IT boom was in full steam and job interviews were more lke sales pitches from the company trying to get you to work there.(It needs to be said that this had a lot more to do with market forces than it did with any talent that I had.)

    Upon arrival, the interviewer, a grumpy guy in his mid 40s, proceeded to describe what the role entailed which was, apparently, nothing good. Aging proprietary technology (read non-transferable skills), extended hours and ad hoc call outs (without compensation), combative customers with unrealistic expectations and below market remuneration.

    After the interview, I called the agency handling the role, and politely retracted my expression of interest due to the reasons above. I also mentioned to them that, in my opinion, it would be a very difficult role to fill.

    I had thought this was the end of it, but a couple of days later I got a call from the agent who had spoken to the HR person at the company about the difficulties in filling the role. Apparently, the HR woman confronted the guy about "not selling the role" and they wanted me to go back for a second interview.

    What? So, already having discovered the nightmare that would await me, I should allow myself to be lied to by a guy who's been disciplined by HR (because of me) and who would end up being my boss?

    I politely declined, again.

  13. Taria Shadow*

    A couple of years ago, I was just leaving a long-term contract admin assistant job and was looking for another. I got called for an interview and it was set up for the afternoon on the day after my last day of work.

    A few of my coworkers said that they would like to take me out to lunch that day as a sort of going away get together, and since I was going to be on that side of town for a different interview anyway, and I figured I would be done with lunch and to the afternoon interview in plenty of time, I said sure.

    I made a multitude of mistakes:

    1. My coworkers were running late, so we didn't leave for lunch until roughly an hour after I arrived at my former workplace.

    2. We went to lunch somewhere that was roughly a 30 minute drive away from the office, in the opposite direction of my next interview.

    3. I accepted the offer by my coworker that we all ride together to the restaurant, and left my car in the office parking lot (thus preventing me from leaving the restaurant on my own).

    4. We went to a sit-down, nice restaurant, that is quite busy (and thus, a little slow) during lunchtime.

    5. When we finally got back to the office and I got back to my car, I figured that being a little late to the interview wouldn�t be a big deal and I called and said that I was running about 20 minutes late, would they mind holding the spot for me. They said yes (although I probably should have just asked them to reschedule). I knew that at best it was an hour drive, and the interview was scheduled for about 30 minutes from the time I called them.

    6. I got lost on my way, trusting in half-remembered directions (which I forgot to printout and take with me). I had to call twice and get directions from the receptionist.

    7. I arrived at the interview over an hour later than originally scheduled. I did apologize, but I doubt I did so very sincerely.

    8. During the interview, when asked about how I handled taking responsibility for my mistakes, I brought up the whole late issue, but just basically said that �I take responsibility for my mistakes, like calling and letting you know I would be late�.

    I sometimes wonder if I every showed up on someone�s blog. It wasn�t until a few days later that it finally hit me how stupid I had been.

  14. Justin*

    I was applying for a tech job. The interviewer wanted to see my problem solving skills, so he "simulated" a problem with a UNIX system by telling me what I would see on a screen, and asked me what I would do. I was at a bit of a loss, but I talked out each step, and he would respond with how the system responded and what would be showing on the screen.

    After five minutes of fumbling, of trying and failing to diagnose this simulated UNIX box, I gave up. He told me the answer. It was an issue that I had encountered a few times in real life, and had solved within a minute.

    So I failed to diagnose a problem in a *simulation* that I had successfully diagnosed in *real life*. The worst part is that there was no way to tell my interviewer this, not without sounding like a complainer or like I was making excuses.

    It's a small thing, but I still feel miffed when I think about it.

  15. JD*

    @Justin – I just remembered another terrible interview. It was for a jr accounting type role at a brewery and I was really qualified for the position. They wanted me to do actual work in Excel in the interview and I choked. I blanked on all the normal formulas and everything I did all day at my previous job. I was mortified and embarrassed and think still it once in a while when I have one of their beers…

  16. T. Alex Beamish*

    Two stories .. first was an interview for a contract position that was looking for a Pascal programmer.

    I'd done Pascal development, but I preferred work in C; however, I was unemployed. The almost retired boss who interviewed me decried the fact that the previous developer *and* his boss had both left the company for 'sacks of gold' (so, the pay here was lousy) and made a point to tell me the replacement developer would have to 'hit the ground running'. Not really preferred language, lousy pay, insane hours .. no.

    The other one was a juicy contract at a national airline, but they required applicants to write an intelligence test of some sort, which the recruiter warned me about. After writing the test the dozen or so of us sat around waiting for something to happen.

    A lady bustled by saying "Come with me please" without stopping, and we all looked at each other. She stopped, came back and almost barked at us to follow her. We obligingly jumped up.

    When we got to our destination, I asked about when the test results would be available; I'd been told a week, and she told me 2-3 weeks. I asked about this discrepancy, and Battleship Lady didn't like my attitude. I was excluded from further interviews. Ridiculous.

    And good riddance.

  17. Kathy*

    Okay. I have had terrible interviews where the person texted while I was trying to answer questions; made to wait 90 minutes in a sweltering room and my make-up ran; yelled at in front of staff for showing up 15 minutes before noon for a confirmed noon interview, saying I was 45 minutes early (?), etc.

    But my self-inflicted worst interview ever was an all-day interview out of state that was going swimmingly, until they took me out to dinner. I had too much wine, and told the dean of the college a "joke" about how students thought fellatio was a Roman emperor and cunnilingus was an Irish airlines.

    I didn't get the job.

  18. Anonymous*

    I had an interview for a job at a terrific company that would report to a former boss, with whom I had a terrific relationship. I wasn't convinced that my skill set was the best for the job, but she was convinced that I would be great for it. I ended up having to work a major event the night before the interview, which was scheduled for first thing in the morning. I was exhausted and unprepared in a way that is not normal for me.

    It turns out that the interview wasn't with my former boss, but with two would-be peers, one of whom had a position lower than the one I was applying for. It was the most adversarial interview I have ever been through. It was clear that he wanted the job and resented that I was there. The questions weren't unreasonable, but he asked them in a rude, challenging way. For the first time in my life, I was at a loss for words and literally answered some questions, "Ummmmmmmmm." It was awful.

    I made up for it by being ridiculously prepared (and well-rested) for my second interview, which went extremely well. I got a third interview but not the job. The person who got it was much better qualified, so I didn't mind. I'm also glad that I didn't have to work with the first guy, although he wasn't there for too much longer.

  19. Emily*

    I've since moved to the business world, but my worst interviews were invariably those for restaurant positions. My Sonic carhop interview is probably the most memorable.

    I sailed through the basic questions, dutifully saying that the customer is always right and calculating the proper change for a $5 on a $3.78 order.

    But then I was asked to put on roller-skates and take two "Route 44" size (extra-large) slushies on a tray out of the establishment and to a manager waiting in his van in one of the spaces. Without lids. Cue the horror music.

    This required rolling up to the drink machine, filling the cups (to the fill line about a 1/4" down from the lip), placing them on the tray, rolling to the door, opening and going through the door, and then navigating to the vehicle. All of which I shakily yet determinedly did. Whew.

    But by the time I reached the van which was parked in a slot downhill from the building, I'd worked up enough speed that I just couldn't stop. 88 ounces of blue coconut slush flew off the tray and into the lap and car seat (and steering wheel, and car floor, and side pockets) of the waiting manager, while I stopped myself from following suit by grabbing the rear-view mirror and wrenching it.

    I actually did get the job, but I wasn't allowed to roller-skate and had to walk.

    I still don't understand why that test wasn't 1) with water and 2) with the mandatory lids.

  20. Erica Friedman*

    A few years ago my industry imploded. The bulk of the folks I work with are women, few of the managers in my field were politically savvy enough to survive the recession. The work we do is critical but massively undervalued at all levels, because we are professional and just do our work, rather than talk about it. "We" are librarians and knowledge professionals. In pretty much every company in America and most towns, libraries and knwoledge centers are closing because hey, Google and Bittorrent. Everyone thinks they are an expert. I've been in my industry for 20 years and when I started it was a sinecure – no one ever got fired. Well, now we all were.

    Anyway, I spend about 4 years bouncing around alternately in contract positions. I went on an interview for a position well below my level of work, because I don't have the option of not working.

    The job was as an Archivist, which is not my strength, I'm a researcher. But, I got dressed in my interview suit and went.

    I was greeted at the door of the company by an agency person. I thought that was odd, but okay. The agency rep explained that they would be doing about 30 interviews today, so this one would be only about 15-30 minutes. I reattached my jaw and listened to the rest of the spiel wondering what was up.

    Eventually it was my turn to enter the interview mill. I was facing three people, all younger than me by a considerable amount. They started asking questions that were…odd.

    "How do you feel about doing repetitive work?"

    I replied that I know all jobs had some repetitive work and I found it comforting once I got into a rhythm.

    "Yes, but what about hours and hours of repetitive work?"

    I reiterated that I was aware that all jobs had some, it didn't faze me at all. They looked at each other as if I wasn't getting it.

    "What do you do if you have too much to work to do in a short time?" they asked.

    I explained that I am an excellent communicator and can prioritize, ask for assistance, etc.

    "Yes, but what if, really, you have like 8 hours work and the boss is leaving early that day and needs it before he leaves but you don't have time to do it?"

    I talked about "chunking" the work-flow technique I've been using for ages that allows me to get a lot of work done in a limited time.

    "Yes, but what if there's NO WAY you can get it done in that amount of time?"

    I smiled and said that I'd talk to my boss before he left and see if we could renegotiate the deadline.

    They smiled. "Oh, so you'd tell someone. that's what we were looking for."

    At that point, I checked out of the interview completely and they ended the session rapidly. I got a call back from the agency – they were unhappy with the answers I had given. They were all too complex. I wasn't dumb enough for the job, apparently.

  21. Heather*

    The worst & weirdest interview I ever had was for a respected company as a management trainee. It was an on campus interview and the interviewer was the regional vice president of hr (and i wondered why he traveled 6 hours to interview a recent college grad).

    I MAYBE talked 15% of the time. We talked about my serving experience, and he started telling me about how he barely ever tips 10%.

    He then started telling me how his colleagues wouldn't like me for the job since I was an HR major, but he would like to give me a chance because that was his major.

    He then started giving me tips on my resume. Why he didn't like parts of it and what he would change.

    I honestly left dumb-founded and sure I didn't want to work for a guy who doesn't even tip 15% for good service.

  22. Shackleford Hurtmore*

    My university used to assist people with finding Industrial Placements for their sandwich year. I was told by the University that I had to apply for a computer programming job I was completely unsuited for (I wasn't a particularly good programmer and had no experience of the languages required), because if I didn't comply, they would not help me find any alternative jobs. I insisted that it would be a waste of everyone's time, and was told again that I *must* apply.

    I was younger and less confident then, so instead of arguing, I applied and was invited for an interview.

    After the first 3 questions the interviewer stopped and asked me; "You don't seem to have any relevant skills to this job. Why did you apply?"

    I was honest and told him that I had been forced to apply.

    He thanked me for being so honest, and suggested that instead of wasting the allotted time on an interview, he would give me a tour of the company. And took me for a tour and lunch while we discussed what jobs I would be better suited to.

    Unsurprisingly, I never got the job, but had a great day out and learned more about the industry in general.

  23. dustycrown*

    I answered an ad for a "Marketing Director" for a group of chiropractors. (Hey, the job market was not pretty at the time.) I expected to interview for a full-time job that required me to design strategies to attract new patients, encourage repeat visits from existing patients, design and place advertising, promote and manage the brand, etc. No. Not even close. As I talked with the (very enthusiastic) chiropractor who interviewed me, it became painfully obvious that not only was this a part-time position, but as "Marketing Director" it would be my job to sit in a booth at the mall, massage the necks of prospective clients, and book them for appointments. I was disappointed, sure. But more than that, I was completely mystified (and a little annoyed) that this guy had looked at my resume with 10+ years of advertising and marketing experience AND a Master's degree and thought I would jump at the chance to massage strangers in a mall for $7 an hour. Nights and weekends, no less. A job is a job, I know. It's just the idea that he lured people in by advertising the position as "Marketing Director." If he's smart enough to graduate chiropractic school, you'd think he'd be smart enough to know that what he had to offer wasn't even CLOSE to "Marketing Director." Wasted my time, wasted my energy, wasted my gas. And I felt like a sucker for believing his ad.

  24. Sabrina*

    I've got a couple.

    1. When I was 18, in college, and was looking for a job. I applied at a few retail stores and got one that I didn't much care for. So when a store that I preferred (finally) called me back I jumped on it. I set up the interview for 2pm in the afternoon, after classes, and before my work shift at my current job started. So I showed up at 2 and the manager told me that there was no way he would schedule an interview at that time because he had no one to cover the register and that the interview was at 5. *I* knew I would never schedule an interview at the time I was supposed to start my own job. But I said I'd come back at 5 and be late to my current job. I arrived a few minutes before 5 and found that the manager had employees to cover the register but was now showing two district managers around the store (his real 5pm appointment). He said it would be a few minutes. It was over an hour. I chatted it up with the employees who were nice guys and thrilled at the idea of a girl working at their video game store. When I finally got to meet with the manager he just showed me around the store and acted as if I already got the job and didn't really ask me any questions. And then I never heard from him. So he made me lose over an hour's worth of pay to just waste my time. I wasn't sad when the company got bought out. :)

    2. A couple of years later I was working in a call center and was looking to find something more along the lines of an administrative assistant role. It was to be the start of my hatred of staffing agencies. One asked me to come in to meet with him and he said it would only take about 30 minutes. I scheduled it right after work thinking that I'd only be there a half hour and then I could make the hour drive home and eat dinner. Oh no. He had several tests and assessments for me to take and then had a lot of questions for me. Normally I wouldn't have minded all of this (except for the fact that staffing agencies are in the business of wasting people's time and not finding anyone a job) but he told me 30 minutes and I was there for about an hour and a half. Starving. Once I got done with the test and interview, he asked me what I was looking for. I told him I didn't want to do customer service, was looking for an AA job and preferred to be closer to home. The only job he had for me was customer service and just as far from home as the one I had was.

    3. This one was much more recent. My husband and I decided to relocate to a new city. I got an interview for an Administrative Assistant position. They don't pay to fly you out for those, which I was fine with. They knew I was flying in, staying at a hotel, renting a car, and paying for all of it on my own. The interview went well I thought. I sent a TY note and tried to follow up. I never heard anything. I was pretty ticked off. I spent over $600 just to be there and they can't even send me a rejection form email? Well jokes on them. Their business relies heavily on advertising from wedding vendors. And I happen to have A LOT of contacts in that industry in a large US city. They were all told about my experience. I don't need my ass kissed but I do expect manners. You never know who you're offending.

    1. Derek*

      They didnt jump at the chance to hire you on?!

      For your contacts? Lets hope they didnt suffer the same fate as Interview #1

  25. Anonymous*

    I was a theater major. Just out of college, I landed a temporary job at a factory that was very simple and rote, and that got out early enough to let me go to rehearsals and work internships. A few months in, the quality lab realized that hey, that temp girl has a brain and shows up on time! So they started me out assisting with testing samples and pulling boxes of product, etc. It was a nice change, and I was good at it.

    So when the day came that they wanted to promote me to the lab and take me on as a full-time employee (with accompanying pay raise, hurray!), I was overjoyed. And the really nice quality assurance guy I mainly worked with said there was just a formality to go through before I got it – an interview with the new technical director. I'd never met him.

    It's not that he was overweight (maybe an extra pound or two), but he had a chin bigger and rounder than the rest of his face – like one of those lizards that puffs up their throat. He took me into this tiny spare storage/conference space and had me move several loaded boxes so that we'd have places to sit down. (He did not offer any help, or even an explanation as to why he couldn't help move them.) He had the resume I'd sent in, but he'd never looked at it previously.

    As he went down the list of my mostly non-quality-related accomplishments, he wondered aloud several times how any of this made me a good choice for the job. He made notes on the resume in a red pen as he went. Then he came to my degree. He asked me a little about it, and told me he couldn't believe I'd spent four years on something that would never make me any money. I was flustered and replied that my Mom and Dad thought it was a little wacky, too, but I'd had scholarships, I loved it, and I wouldn't take it back. He responded by asking me: "Do you think your parents are ashamed of you?"

    I honestly don't remember what I said in response; by this time I was so shaken and surprised at being so penned in with such a hostile guy that I felt myself getting teary. The technical director ended the interview with the instruction to have my high school and college transcripts sent to him, and he'd see if there wasn't something 'salvageable' there.

    I went on break afterward, collected myself (cried a little in the bathroom), and then went back to work.

    I did end up getting promoted, but it was because the lab folk I worked with all hated the guy and overruled him.

    (I later had to go alone on a day trip to an affiliated factory with lizard man – they fed us lunch and, just making conversation, I remarked aloud about how cute the bags the deli used were. He laughed and said 'of course a woman would focus on that!' …Yeah, there were two other women in the room from the factory. Nice.)

    – novelust at gmail

  26. Clairezilla*

    Ooh! I just remembered two more horrible interviews; one from each side of the table.

    I once had an interview in a large college admissions office. I could demonstrate most of the required skills, I had just come back from teaching English overseas, and I really, really, really needed a job.

    I flubbed the bus schedule, was almost one hour late to the interview, and forgot to turn off my which of course rang, loudly, ten minutes into the conversation. Needless to say, I was not surprised when I received a curt rejection letter three weeks later.

    The second story begins with me chairing a small search committee for only the second time. A first-round candidate who looked fabulous on paper turned out to be a dud (but a dud for whom I felt very empathetic). In answering a question on previous relevant experience, the candidate stated that he had worked in a small community college admissions office. Okay, good… and then went on to state, "And a lot of them were first time students, and they brought the whole family with them for a tour; you know how those Hispanics do…" and I about died.

    I looked to my left at my two Hispanic co-workers, and just followed the lead of the lady closest to me.

    Smile and nod, smile and nod, and be ready to end the interview if the comments veer into strange territory.

  27. Clairezilla*

    Ha! The more stories I read, the more terrible interviews I remember…

    The time we had a guy show up for an Admin Assistant position (he was a recently laid-off HRIS manager). He missed his interview and had to reschedule for the next day. When he got there, he sat back in his chair, arrogantly rattled off about thirty acronyms, and couldn't see past his nose. We sent him a very nice rejection letter.

    Or the time I was seven months pregnant, and a candidate answered that she would not mind working overtime if needed, because, "I don't have any family, just an ex. And I don't have any children, so there won't be anything taking up my time outside of work. *looks at me* Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

  28. Anonymous*

    I was working for a temp agency who were also trying to find me a permanent job. They had shown me the details of a job that I wasn't interested in, one of the reasons being it was along way to travel and I don't drive and would have had to rely on public transport. So I said "not this time, thanks". Days go past and I get a call at my current temp post. It was the agency, begging me to go to the interview, obviously as they had to make their numbers up. They would pay for a taxi to take me there and back. I said yes, at the goodness of my heart (!), even though I would not have been able to prepare, was tired (it was at the end of my working day) and had a huge hole in my tights.

    So, I get there are have the interview, bearing in mind not interested so I was quite relaxed. I got on well with the interviewer but she did try to trip me up when she said "I sometimes like to leave early, what would you do then"

    It was then my turn to ask questions. I hadn't prepared for the interview and, as I said, not interested in the position but I asked the question "is there a canteen here" as the place was in the middle of nowhere, don't drive etc.

    I left the interview feeling pretty good until I got a telephone call the next day from the agency who said I had "shot myself in the foot" when I asked if there was a canteen. Could this have anything to do with the fact that I certainly don't look like I have ever missed a meal in my life …. ?

  29. Dani*

    My worst interview happened when I was looking for my first internship as a business student. All my previous interviews had been very low key, informal affairs, half an hour of chatting with the manager or sometimes even the current intern and I honestly did not expect that this interview with a major international corporation might be any different. Silly me.

    This interview was with the prospective manager and the HR manager. They actually did not ask any mean questions, but if you aren't prepared…

    -"Why do you want to work for us?"
    -"Um, I like your products and that the company has such a long history."
    -"Well, then why don't you apply with the brewery next door? They have a very popular product and history too."

    -"So how many packages of cream cheese do we sell per day?"
    -"Well, can you maybe try to make an estimate, you know, how many people do you know who buy our product, how much of it they consume…"

    It got so bad I was literally shaking and unable to look them in the eye. I couldn't do the simplest math and on the way out the door, I thought I had lost my visiors tag, even though there it was, right on my lapel.

    Needless to say, I did not get the intership and if HR blogs had existed at the time, I would have made an entry as "clueless applicant". I did however learn my lesson and am now always overprepared for my interviews! This experience actually helps me keep calm before interviews because I figure, it cannot possibly get quite this embarassing ever again.

  30. Jennifer*

    When I was 18 I interviewed at a day care center for part time work while attending college. I was taken on a tour of the center at the end of the interview and while we were in the infant room the director was called away momentarily to handle some emergency. There were two workers in the infant room and about 10 babies. One was fussing and they asked if I would rock him. I did, and sat on the rocker with the fussing baby for a few minutes waiting for the director to return. She did, and I stood up with the baby only to realize his diaper had failed and I was covered in poop.

    I did get the job, at least, since the director liked my initiative at stepping in and helping out…

  31. Anonymous*

    1. Gentleman shows up 10 minutes early for an interview, impeccably groomed. Hands me a copy of a nicely formatted resume containing spelling and grammatical errors. I asked him if he'd like to make any corrections to his resume before we begin. No, he's good.

    He liked to put it all out there, stating he's been out of work for 7 months but they're ok, his wife works 2 jobs, one day & one night while their child is in daycare. Umm… okay, but we didn't ask.

    Diving into the interview we find his resume dates don't line up with his answers. When asked to confirm he blames his spouse. It's just like her to sabotage him. I asked if this was his resume and was accused of being one of them. Just as he brought up Star Trek and the 'mother ship' I thanked him for coming in and ended it.

    2. Woman comes in a few minutes late for an interview. I don't blink, but when asked what an acceptable number of absences or punctuality issues is, she stumbles. I dig a little only to find she's on a final disciplinary for punctuality. Turns out she lives 2 blocks from where she currently works and has been late 16 times in 3 months. Regrouping, she went on to criticize her employer, saying time shouldn't be important when she has such a good work ethic.

  32. Anonymous*

    Shortly after graduating college I got called in to a second round interview with a marketing company I was interested in. During this round, I would shadow a current employee for a day. Good thing that was lest I actually have taken this job.

    I found out when I showed up that the job entailed walking around poor neighborhoods from 9-5 selling cheap Yankees tickets. Not knowing this, I showed up in 3" heels and a full suit on a day where it was 85 degrees out. Come early afternoon, I was already sweaty, disheveled, and partly unable to walk (which I'm sure looked great to all the bodega owners).

    One group of young men we approached to sell tickets responded to our offer with "I don't want your tickets, but I'll buy her! [points to me]" The employee I was shadowing says "sure guy, how much?" He was joking, but still – under no conditions could that possibly be considered appropriate.

    The only good thing about this interview was that it solidified my decision not to accept their job offer.

  33. Rebecca*

    I've posted this one before, but:

    The first interview (phone interview, because the job was in another state) went great. I flew to the company at my expense for round two. The lady who interviewed me (my future boss) and I got along even better in person, and we were having a lovely time chatting as we made our way to her office. We sat down, she picked up my resume off her desk, and suddenly she looked concerned.

    "Wait, you don't have a Master's degree?"

    "No, I don't. I have a bachelor's degree."

    "Oh… I'm sorry, this job is really for someone with a Master's degree. I'm afraid we won't be considering you."

    She took my silence as confusion about what I was supposed to do, so she smiled and got up and said "Let me show you out."

  34. me!*

    oh heck.
    I had one a few weeks ago that was awful. I applied in Feb for the "dream job" with a very awesome group doing totally amazing stuff. The job was basically research/managing projects/analyzing the data. The job listing was a perfect match to what I wanted to do. Then the company sat on interviews for a while, finally scheduling one for end of April… With three people, over the phone. As I'm talking to the first interviewer, I'm getting the feeling that it's not quite the job I applied for – no questions about anything related to the position. Then he asks a question about my thesis and spends about 20 minutes tearing it apart – later saying "well, you're not an economist" so whatever… The next person I talk to also doesn't give me the impression that I'm actually interviewing for the job I applied to – "we might be hiring up to 3 people" "you could be doing all data or all management" – no talk of the actual position. The third person I talk to is in basically an entry level role – telling me about being asked to write literature reviews… At that point, I'm just fed up with the whole thing – and realize that it's not something I want. Was majorly majorly disappointed about that. UGH.

  35. Anonymous*

    If this wins, and I imagine it won't because there have to be crazier stories out there than this, please pass along the desk winnings to the next person.

    I just wanted to share the story as another "what not to do in interviews" for your readers. :)

    After 13 years in the city I (for the most part) grew up in, I left for about seven years due to college and the jobs that followed immediately thereafter. That near-decade removed from my hometown, I had a chance at an interview with an office in the area and figured it might be a good opportunity to move back closer to friends and family.

    I made two big mistakes: 1. Assuming I still knew where everything was after seven years. 2. Buying new shoes to go with my suit to look sharp for the interview.

    Long story short, I parked at a garage that I knew was convenient to the office I was heading to because of my familiarity with the area, but turned the wrong way as I walked out of the parking structure. Two incredibly apologetic phone calls later, I arrived for the interview 30 minutes late (I'm surprised they didn't cancel it on me, frankly) — and I was bleeding through the heels of my socks from the new shoes that hadn't been broken in and weren't well-suited for an unexpected downtown tour.

    Sweaty, limping, wincing with pain each step and 30 minutes late is no way to arrive for an interview.

    Later that night, I mapped out where I'd walked and calculated that I probably ended up covering about 21 city blocks, when if I'd gone the correct direction initially, it would have been about five.

    I will say this, I'm probably one of the most appreciative people in the world of newer technology that gets directions to phones on demand.

    Lesson learned; plan your arrival sufficiently!

  36. Anonymous*

    Oh, and I vote for the diaper-poop story as the worst interview on here so far.

    That sounds HORRIBLE.

    -Bloody Shoe Guy.

  37. Charles*

    This story is not about my �worst� interview. Nor it is about the time the interviewer took her first look at me and asked, in an incredible voice, �When did you graduate?� (I�m in my fifties and earned my master�s degree in my forties, she was clearly expecting a very young person). Nor, is it about the time I showed up for an interview and after waiting for 40 minutes I was told that the position had just been filled. Nope, this is about an interview that actually went quite well. Except, I think, it qualifies as my most �embarrassing� interview.

    The interview was about an hour�s train ride away. I caught an earlier train just in case the commuter trains were running late. I planned on getting a cup of coffee at a shop just a couple of blocks away from their office. This will allow me time to relax before the interview, I thought.

    What�s that saying? The best laid plans . . .

    As expected the trains were delayed; but by 1 hour and 40 minutes!!!!! Thank God I planned for that extra time. I thought, at least, I can skip the coffee and go right to the interview.

    Well, the subway that I had planned on taking was re-routed due to �police activity.� I ended up having to walk several blocks more than I had expected. Did I mention that this was a hot and humid summer day?

    Luckily, I still had time when I arrived at the office. Only five minutes, but still time to duck into the restroom to freshen up, at least wipe the sweat from my brow. Wrong, the restroom on the ground floor was out of order. I had to wait for someone from the company to come down to the security desk to escort me up to their office. As someone came down immediately I did not cool off at all. After she took me up to their company�s waiting area I asked to use the restroom, leaving my briefcase and suit jacket in the waiting area.

    I grabbed a paper towel then went over to the sink area to wipe the sweat from my face. Removing my glasses I leaned closer to the mirror (I am VERY nearsighted without my glasses). Not realizing that the sink counter was all wet, I inadvertently leaned up against the sink. The front of my pants were now wet (there is no way to put this delicately) right in the crotch area. And it wasn�t just a little wet, my pants soaked up that water like a sponge! As my suit was a medium blue the wet area was visible, VERY visible. Paper towels would not dry the wet area quickly enough and they left quite a bit of white lint on my pants, the hand blow-dryer was not very efficient either. After several fruitless minutes of trying to dry my pants I gave up and decided that I had to come up with another plan. Hey, maybe I can quickly get back to the waiting area and just hold my suit jacket in front of me?!

    As soon as I entered the waiting area, looking more frazzled than before, the receptionist look up and said that they were waiting for me and thought that I had �fallen in, ha ha!� Normally I would have found this comment humorous but not given these circumstances. Hoping that she couldn�t see below my waist because of the height of the counter that she was sitting behind I quickly grabbed my jacket and said that I was ready. When I started to walk back towards the office area she asked if I wanted to hang up my jacket! �no thanks I said, I�ll hang onto it.� Each of the three interviewers asked me the same thing!(ARGH!)

    The actual interview went rather well. Since I did not get the job I have often wonder if they saw that I �wet myself� and decided not to say anything? Or was I just not the best candidate. I have often wondered if it would have been better to explain, in a humorous way, what happened instead of trying to cover it up. Perhaps if I had explained it they would have thought that I can handle most anything under pressure?!

  38. Chillygator*

    I had just graduated from high school. I had a part-time, non-benefited job, wanted to take a year off from school and decided I needed a full-time, benefited job to do that. I started interviewing with people in my same company.

    My first interview started well enough, but then she started asking where I wanted to go in my career and what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted to be a secretary like my mom because she is such a great example to me.

    My interviewer answered, "No you don't." I was sure I hadn't heard her correctly, so I asked, "I don't?" "No, you would never be good as a secretary. You need to stop applying for jobs, stay where you're at, go to school and become a teacher." I argued that my dad was a teacher and it was not something I would ever (ever, ever, ever) be interested in (not because I think it's horrible, it just isn't my personalty).

    She again told me I need to go be a teacher and I again told her I wasn't interested. The interview ended there.

    I ended up getting a job in the department that shared an office with her department and often assisted her in computer-related things (she wasn't very tech-savvy and I didn't mind helping). Then after a year and a half sabbatical from work, she had moved to a new department and helped me get the job I have now, so it ended up okay after all — even if that was a weird interview.

    We also had a friend of our family whose husband had been laid off, they had quite a few children and she decided to go back to work. She interviewed with this same lady who told her that a woman's place is in the home and she just needed to trust that her husband would get a job eventually, but her responsibility was to raise their children.

    She was a very nice lady, despite the odd interview advice.

  39. Anonymous*

    I recently submitted my resume for a job advertised on a prominent firm's website. It had not been advertised on any job boards, just on their website–I'd visited their website specifically because I wanted to work for them, not just anyone.

    I received a request for an interview, and replied with times I was available, per their request. A week passed, then two. Finally I heard back and of course the dates I'd proffered had passed so they asked for new dates of availability. I replied with new times. We confirmed a time and date.

    The morning of the interview, the HR manager called to confirm again that I was coming. I confirmed. An hour later, as I was walking out the door, she called back and said she had to postpone due to a scheduling conflict with the person I was to meet with, but would call me later in the week to reschedule.

    She never called, I called her and she confirmed that she was still trying to confirm a date, but hadn't forgotten.

    A month has now passed, and the job has now been advertised on several job boards. I made another inquiry, but not with any real expectation that they would schedule me for an interview. More, how long is it going to take for this HR manager to GROW A PAIR and tell me she screwed up when she scheduled the interview in the first place?

  40. Anonymous*

    A few months ago, I interviewed with a nonprofit for a "marketing specialist" position. Though the job description was very vague, I applied, was given a very short telephone interview, passed it, and was brought in for a face-to-face interview with the hiring manager and human resources rep.

    Little did I know, the job was actually a graphic design position and although I have some design experience, I am in no way a graphic designer! The hiring manager gave me some info about the position and began asking me all these design-specific questions and even asked if I brought in my design portfolio to show him some of my work.

    I definitely felt awful having been so unprepared for the interview even though I honestly thought it was more of a writing position according to the ad. Needless to say, I didn't get the job!

  41. Jen M.*

    Back when I was temping, I went in to interview at one particular agency. I was looking for a certain amount per hour, not because I had an inflated sense of self-worth, but because that amount is what I'd already been making as a temp at other agencies.

    I filled out my paperwork and sat down with one of the reps. She asked me about my required salary, and I told her, and she said "Well, we will pay you X, because that is what your skills are worth."

    I was a bit shocked, and I felt very insulted. (It was about half of what I was asking, just so you know.)

    After succeeding in NOT biting her head off, I simply said, "This interview is over," and I walked out. To this day, I will not work for that agency, ever. I'm currently employed full time–have been for the past nine years–but you never tend to forget something like that.

    Having read some of the other stories, I guess I got off pretty lucky, but this woman was REALLY rude!

  42. CT HR Mgr*

    I was nearing the end short-term disability leave after having badly sprained my back and right knee in a fall. I was unhappy in my position at a small company and began to browse open positions on the internet. I found an interesting job and applied on-line. Within days, I received a call for an interview and accepted an appointment. I could walk without crutches a little more each day, so I left them in the car on the day of the interview. I also foolishly wore high heels for the first time in months.

    The initial interview went well, except that the gentlemen stoically read 20 questions and recorded all of my answers on a micro-cassette, which I thought was very strange. For the second half of the interview, three other managers entered the room and we began to chat amicably and discuss the job and my experience. After about 10 minutes, the fire alarm rang, lights flashing, recorded voice booming to �exit the building.� The interviewers just calmly kept asking me questions. I was dumbfounded. After a few minutes more of the blaring alarm, I asked if perhaps we should leave the building or were they planning on hiding in the closet as if we were in college. Yes I know pretty stupid, but I was getting a headache and couldn�t figure out why they were blatantly ignoring the alarms. Another 5 minutes passed as well as a few more questions and they said it was time to leave via the stairs. Did I mention that we were on the tenth floor and I could barely walk?

    We entered the stairwell and I told them go ahead; I would follow at a slower pace. At this time no one else was in the stairwell so I knew I could take my time � I was petrified of slipping and falling again in my heels, but they insisted on staying with me. While we slowly walked the stairs I explained that I was just finishing short-term disability leave. When we got to the lobby, one interviewer thanked me for coming and told me that I would not be hearing from them again. I never figured out if it was my snide remark about the alarms or my temporary disability that scared them away.

  43. The Money Maiden*

    When I was in high school I interviewed for a job as a junior park ranger for a local open space lake. I love nature and being outdoors so thought it would be the perfect fit. Of course I was young and showed up in a dress (the interviewers were all in shorts and t-shirts.) I think most of the interview went alright, but then I was asked if I could be any animal what would I be and why? I said a leopard because it's my favorite animal. I didn't get the job and I still think it was primarily because of the dress and inane answer to an even more inane question.

  44. Anonymous*

    I have two:

    I was relocating from DC to LA for school. I had been working for a company in DC for about a year and a half and still needed a job when I got to LA. It just so happened that at the time I moved, my company was merging with one out there. Great! I'll get a transfer.

    Well, it wasn't quite so smooth, and I had to re-interview for the position. The guy seemed friendly enough on the phone, but in person was a different story. Mind you, these jobs pay about $10 or $11 an hour, and are semi-skilled labor. People who know what they are doing tend to rise to the top of the pile for obvious reasons…

    But throughout the interview, I just got this feeling the guy wasn't serious about hiring *me* and was more interested in digging up a bit of dirt or what have you about their newly acquired partners in the merger.

    The interview was 5.5 years ago now, so some parts are sketchy. The parts that I recall:

    "How do you define teamwork?" I gave him a specific example of a very-work related task. He says to me: "Well, we don't have that kind of equipment here. Do you have a different example?" (My first thought was WTF, how was I supposed to know that, and for $10/hr, it was a good enough answer.)

    "Why should I hire you?" I told him I had very good experience, great work ethic, blah blah blah. (These were all true. And the odds of having a similar applicant at the same time were slim.) Then he looks at me and says something along the lines of, "Well, I have another applicant with the same experience as you do. Why should I hire you instead?" (My first thought was WTF, this is a $10/hr job. You're not supposed to be picking a fight with me.) What came out of my mouth was: "In this industry, it's hard to find experienced, dedicated help. Hire both of us."

    I didn't get the job. I ended up getting a much, much better one with a competitor.

    Sometime later, I ended up working a part-time job that entailed doing a bit of business with the aforementioned company. I bumped into the interviewer while on the job, and somehow we got onto the fact that he interviewed me. I just asked him flat out why he didn't hire me, and the response he gave me lead me to believe he screwed up and he knew it.

  45. Mary Sue*

    I was a brand new teacher with a Master's Degree in Education so fresh off the press the ink was still wet. And I was working as a temp, waiting for the school year hiring to start.

    I found a job ad on Craigslist for teachers at a new, private K-6 Montessori school the next county over. Even better, the gig was a 'start immediately' one. Half of my student teaching (read: unpaid internship) was at a dependent charter school that used Montessori techniques, and I was impressed by them. I contacted the school and set up an appointment for the interview.

    I was interviewed by two people, the future principal and the lead teacher, in the private home of the lead teacher. The lead teacher's infant child was also in the room, doing baby things.

    The interview started off as professional as any I've ever participated in. We discussed pedagogy and my experiences with the Montessori school and traditional schooling. I elaborated on what I thought the pros and cons of each were.

    Then the baby started crying. "Oh, he's hungry," the lead teacher said, and proceeded to remove her shirt and bra. She then walked across the room, picked up the infant, and brought him back and began nursing, completely topless, as she asked me the next question.

    I sat there for another twenty minutes, struggling mightily to keep my poker face on and my eyes above neck level. The baby stopped eating after about ten minutes, but she just put him on the floor to crawl around and continued the interview without replacing her bra or her shirt.

    I emailed the next day and informed them that I felt I was not a good fit for the position and I was removing myself from consideration. I'm a fan of casual dress in the workplace, but that was a wee bit too casual for my tastes.

  46. Anonymous*

    (Same anon as above. The first story was long enough. Time for the second submission.)

    I applied for a white-collar position with an airline that would have required relocation. I have a background in the industry, although it's not really required for the position. (It's a "plus" as they say.) I can hold my own in a discussion about relevant industry topics.

    So the phone screen went alright. They asked me four or five questions about subject matter but were designed for those who aren't fluent in the topics. (It's like asking someone where they should build the next Starbucks. You can ask that as a "how they think" question, but the answer you get from a college kid is going to be different than somebody who, say, did location planning for Dunkin' Donuts.)

    Anyway, they fly me to their HQ. My first interview was with a person outside of the immediate department. Him and I had what I thought was an excellent conversation on work specific issues. So far so good.

    My next interview was with someone who would have been my immediate supervisor. We spent 30 minutes doing Q&A on stupid HR situational questions that were appropriate for people with white collar professional experience. Now, the reason they were stupid (to me) was that for the last 7 years, my work was working on airport ramps. I did shift work with overtime. I did have a three-month stint as a contract employee for the summer after grad school.

    So, I get questions like this: At your last job, tell me about a time you stayed late on a Friday when you were all set to go home and got a last minute surprise. Answer: At this job, I was paid by the hour and specifically told that there was no budget to pay me for anything more than 8 hours per day, so I better not go over.

    Next question: At job (insert airport job) tell me about a time you missed a deadline. Answer: I worked in customer service, and my work was dictated by on-the-spot customer demands.

    I spent the remainder of a 30-minute interview block answering inane questions like this. Never once did we discuss a thing on my resume.

    That test was followed by a "skills" test. I aced the math part. The next part was an MS Excel test where they wanted me to do a bunch of data manipulation (a bunch of string parsing, really) and answer some questions. I couldn't even get the data manipulation done in that time period, mainly, because if I had to do stuff like that I'd do it in a totally separate application first.

    Now, I had to meet with the co-manager of my department. (Turns out I'd have two bosses. Joy.) We go through more of the same… stupid office situational questions about specific experiences that I had (or in my case didn't have).


  47. Anonymous*

    I vote for the breastfeeding one as the best story. Truly a "stress interview".

  48. Kate Hutchinson*

    My worst interview happened at Harvard. I applied for a Development position, and wore my favorite black suit. As I stepped out of the elevator, I heard some stitches pop–in the crotch. So I carried my jacket in front of me and sat through the interview, praying no one would notice. Of course, this made me pretty nervous, so I blew an easy question:

    "Why would someone not want to donate to Harvard?"

    The answer should have been, well, people think Harvard already has a lot of money, etc. But I was already in full babble mode, and talked about how I had at one point, held back on giving to my college (Trinity) because I didn't like the leadership of the President (then Dick Hersh). "But of course," I added, "Harvard doesn't have that sort of problem."

    I got some funny looks and the interview ended shortly after. As I walked home, trying to keep my trousers together, it hit me that one month before Larry Summers had made that lovely remark about women being biologically inferior in math and science.

    I bought a pair of jeans on the way home.

  49. Alyxmyself*

    Wow did reading these make me feel better about 1) losing my cool over my previous employer when pushed to be specific as to why I was no longer employed there and 2) giving personal answers to questions about goals,acomplishments, etc. out of a combination of nerves, and the interviewer's complete incompetence at interviewing, aka turning it into a chat sesh.

    Interviews suck. The best interview I ever went on, everything that could go wrong did, the guy never glanced at my resume, I got the job with a handshake and stayed there 10 years till he retired. He liked me on sight, and he trusted his gut. People are full of themselves nowadays, so worried about vetting that they don't trust their instincts.

  50. Anonymous*

    I went to an interview for the position of "Medical Assistant" I was interviewed by two Office Managers. They told me they would call back the candidates that qualified to meet with the doctor. I received a call two days later for the second interview. I met with the Doctor, and we got along really well. He began walking me around the office, showing me the different things I would be doing, and learning about. We came out of one of the exam rooms where about eight other employees were working. He asked the Office Manager if he had the final say, she shrugged her shoulders, and he said yeah I have the final say he stuck out his hand to shake mine and said I look forward to working with you. So of course I am so excited I got hired on the spot at an office I really wanted to work at, and needed to be working at as well. (Being a single mother of three children, no longer receiving unemployment from being laid off from my previous employer, and not receiving ANY child support either) So the Office Manager walks me out and says well he made his decision so I will forward your paperwork to HR and they will contact you with your wage offer and any other information needed for a background check, and you'll be starting May 10Th (2 weeks from then) So I wait the rest of the week, no call. I wait almost the rest of the next week with no call so I finally decide to call the Office Manager and ask her if I needed to do anything else cause I had not received a call yet. She tells me to continue waiting for the call, but she sounded kind of funny. So the next day I contacted HR and asked them if they needed anymore information. The girl at HR was very confused. She tells me she was never given my information for the position she was given someone else's. She offers to call the office to find out what was going on. So she calls me back and says she was sorry I misunderstood, but they actually went with another candidate. So I tell her I misunderstood them hiring me that makes no sense and I had just talked to the Office Manager the day before and she told me to continue to wait, knowing I would never get a call. So I call the Office Manager myself to find out what happened, after she lied to me, and changed her story a bunch of times she finally said, "OK you can be mad at me, my friend that used to work here needed work so we changed our minds."…

  51. helanajean*

    My worst interview was when I applied for a nurse's aide position at a convelescent home in Los Angeles.

    The interviewer, which was the DoN (Director of Nursing) of the facility (I won't disclose her name, so as not to incur further embarrassment), had a very bad cold and didn't want to go home for the day. As she was interviewing me, she sneezed and a "huge" glob of snot and mucous shot from her nose, across the desk, and landed on my blouse and a bit on my chin.

    It was a very nauseating experience, but I tried to hold my composure. The DoN never said anything, nor did she look up at me; she just grabbed a Kleenex and kept doing what she was doing. I was really amazed! She started to speak, then I said, "Excuse me ma'am, but that was very nasty." She said, "That was nothing but a little mucous and being a health-care professional, that shouldn't bother you at all". Then I replied, "No, being a health-care professional? That doesn't bother me. What bother's me is a 'Health-care professional', not 'patient', interviewing me for a position at "her" facility, and sneezes, shooting big goobs of gook across the desk, soiling my clothes, yes, that bother's me."

    After that episode, she basically said that I was not qualified to hold a position at that facility and I told her she needed to learn some manners before she could dictate who qualified for anything (and I said a few other things)…And I was nice about :)

    Now, when I am speaking with someone with a cold, I feel like I'm playing hockey and I'm the Goalie :)

  52. kelly*

    i know this thread is old but had to give my little whoops.

    After college I had an interview about 3 hours away from where I was living, but I was willing to make the trek because I had no other options at the time. The first half of the interview went great, I got along wonderfully with the girl interviewing me and thought I had this in the bag. Then she sent me in to interview with the vice president so I wouldn’t have to drive again for a second interview. This woman was very interested in the small side business I had run in college and kept asking questions about it, so I obliged and kept answering, even though they were very off topic. Then after a long tangent, she goes “So why are you interested in working in the X industry instead of pursuing this business?” Being 22 with hardly any interview experience, I blurt out “Well I need to make money!” She smiled and said “Well thank you for coming in. SoandSo will show you out.” UGH.

    My first job interview was a group interview at a retail store when I was 16. Everyone took turns answering the question “Why do you want to work for this company?” I was the 4th or 5th person to answer, and the first people ALL said “I really want the discount, I LOVE the clothes!” I said “Well it seems like it would be a great company to work for, and I’d like to get some real work experience before I finish high school.” You should have seen the interviewer’s eyes light up.

  53. KNOWHOW Recruitment*

    They need to get some new questions out there, their all the same we have had some corkers asked to our candidates over the years here a a few not the worst but, they are more of a ‘where are you coming from asking that question’ and ‘how do I answer that’

    – Can you tell a joke?
    – On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you?
    – What kind of people do you dislike?
    – Which super power do you like to have and why?
    – If you saw someone steal a tin of beans in Tesco, would you report it?

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