It's pretty astounding what some people think is appropriate for a job interview. Could you image showing up late? Taking a call in the middle of it? Or bringing your mother along for it!?
These hiring managers and HR folks have seen it all and in these amazing stories we culled from the web, they let it rip. They let it all out about the weird, the crazy, the funny and the unbelievable! It'll make you feel a whole lot better about your choices in life! Content has been edited for clarity.
Billing For His Time
“We had a guy who interviewed for a position. He seemed to do okay in the actual interview. The interview was 30 minutes over the phone with a recruiter and 1-hour onsite. He drove to the office which only took him about 30 minutes.
When he was not selected for the position, he sent us an invoice of a few thousand dollars. He charged us his ‘normal hourly rate’ for his time and billed us for 50 hours. He did itemize the bill for us and the bulk of those hours were for ‘preparation.’
We did not pay him. He tried to insist we pay him. We showed our lawyers who just laughed so we still did not pay him.
The best part was he was interviewing for an HR position.”
He Demanded The Impossible…And Slightly Worse
“One time an applicant told me that he was temporarily placed in charge of a team, and one of the team members spoke mostly French so he told him to ‘learn English or get out of here,’ and then subsequently sent him home when he did not immediately learn English.
The question was, ‘Tell me about a time that you worked well under loose supervision.'”
Mom Came Along
“Back when I was HR Manager for a market research firm, one of the most awkward interviews was with my candidate and his mother.
This 19-year-old who apparently had previous work experience in customer service brought his mother into the interview with him. I politely questioned his mother as to the reasoning of her joining in on the interview and I was told, ‘I’m just making sure this is the right company for him and making sure you’re asking fair questions.’
I decided to roll with it (why not, this is the most interesting thing I’ve had all week) so I asked my first question and she answered for him. I politely explained that the interviews I conduct are with the candidate only unless special accommodations are required. I was told, ‘I’m not going anywhere.’
At that point, I thanked them both for coming out and explained that the position requires problem-solving and critical thinking on an individual level. Unless I am hiring the both of them under one salary working together as a ‘full-time equivalent’ this wouldn’t work. I was then told I would be sued and to ‘eff’ myself.”
Did She Not Realize Who She’d Be Working With?
“I used to work as a manager at an English language school in Indonesia.
I learned that Indonesians tend to be pretty candid when answering questions, but I’ll tell you about one that sticks in my mind.
I had been training my (Indonesian) assistant manager in interviewing, so it was the first one he’d be doing with me, observing. The interview was at 2pm and the candidate turned up at 11am.
Me: ‘Why is she so early?’
Assitant manager (AM): ‘She says her aunt was coming this way anyway so she caught a lift to keep from taking the bus. She wants to know if we can move the interview to now, as her aunt’s going home again at 12.
Me: ‘No, she has to wait until 2.’ Red flag number one. I honestly didn’t think she’d come back but she did.
The interview started off ok, but then…
AM: ‘So it says here you used to work for a tour company, can you tell us why you left that job?
Candidate: ‘Well, I used to do tours, which I enjoyed, unless I had to take foreigners around.’
AM: ‘Why was that?’
Candidate: ‘Foreigners are just so rude and all they do is get wasted. I didn’t want to work with foreigners any more so I quit!’
If I’d been doing the interview I would’ve cut it off right there – we were an ENGLISH school, with BRITISH and AMERICAN teachers!
I’m not sure she’d realized that her manager and coworkers would all be foreigners!
She didn’t get the job.”
The Guy That Hates Talking Can’t Stop Talking
“I had a guy come in for a CDL and site work (truck driving and earthmoving equipment) position. After the initial pleasantries, he went on to inform me that he didn’t like small talk, his pet peeve is people who socialize too much on the job when there is work to be done, he likes to get right to it and get hammering away on that work; he just doesn’t understand these people who just talk talk talk instead of getting on with it, not like him, he’s not interested in chatting no he’s got a better work ethic than these darn kids and he’s ‘not going to stand around gabbing about nothing’ when time is wasting, etc…
He went on like that, no exaggeration, for an hour and 20 minutes. A solid hour and a half including the initial question and answer bit at the beginning. I wasn’t even mad, I just let him ramble on. At the end of it, he asked if he would be starting that day or if I needed to ‘do some of this paperwork stuff’ for him.
He hadn’t even filled out his pre-hire information forms.
A Bigot Lays It Out
“In 2010, I conducted an interview with an applicant for a warehouse job. During the course of the interview, I mentioned my slight frustration about the grounded flights in Europe due to the volcano eruption in Iceland. Grounded flights meant we weren’t receiving stock, and work was slow as a result.
The applicant chimed in with (and I’m paraphrasing), ‘It’s just another one of those things. He knows. He’s mad.’
‘God. He’s mad. Just like that big tsunami a few years ago. God’s madand he’s letting us know. We need to be more careful.’
‘More careful about what, do you think?’
‘This whole gay-acceptance thing. God’s mad and he’s letting us know. We need to abide by the Good Book or this kind of thing is just gonna keep happening.’
Then he failed the substance test.”
English Wasn’t Her Thing
“I interviewed an Italian girl who couldn’t speak English. She had only moved to the country a few weeks prior and I think this was her first interview but it was all so painful. Nearly every question was answered with ‘Si, …(pause)…yes.’ Even questions that you shouldn’t answer with a yes. I decided to be nice and go through all of my questions but it was ridiculous, like, I nearly called an Italian speaker to come and translate for us.
‘If you had multiple asks coming from different parts of the business and they were all due today, but you couldn’t finish them all in time, how would you try to balance this?’
‘No, say it’s not possible to do them all by today, what would you do?’
‘So you don’t have time to do them all. Would you see if you could re-prioritize any of these, or would you just not do them or something else?’
‘What I’m normally expecting here is something along the lines of you either asking the someone for more time, or looking for help from a colleague, or even speaking to your manager and asking for a list of priorities from them. Which of these would you be most likely to do?’
‘(Longer pause) Si, (pause)…yes.’
At the end of the interview, I was then just asking her general ‘shoot the bull questions.’ She said she was currently learning English. So I asked her where was she learning it, and she told me ‘only for a few weeks.’
So I said, ‘No, the location of the school? Where is it located?’ and I get a blank face. I eventually started naming streets, and she goes ‘Ahhh! Dove!’ and she tells me the street name.
After the interview, I told our recruiter that she can’t speak English and we won’t be proceeding further. The recruiter told me that she had spent 40 minutes with her on the phone (in English) making sure she understood the role. When I asked her if the applicant said anything more than ‘Si’ or ‘Yes,’ she looked a bit embarrassed.”
A Guy Admits To A Terrible Mistake AND Dishonesty
“I work in telecom. The position was a Tier III support job (roughly $100k salary).
One of my favorite questions is ‘What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?’ where I generally follow up to look at how they handled it and what they learned. I’ve received many weird replies to this question from ‘my first wife’ to outbursts at kids’ sporting events. But this one takes the cake.
I knew it was about to go down when the candidate looked behind him apparently to see if anyone else was listening, other than the three of us interviewing him. Then he leans in and in a hushed voice he explains:
‘I was out on a service call at the company central office (in the middle of a major city) and after I finished my work, I bent down to clean up my tools, and I managed to kill power to the whole company, via a massive phone switch. I heard the fans spinning down, and immediately spun around and flipped power back on, but there were alarms going off and I was terrified. I grabbed my stuff and ran out of the building. I drove around the city, scared to death that I was going to get fired, and thought I should go back and man up. When I got back into the CO, it was FILLED with executives and people running around. When I came through the door they all proclaimed, ‘THANK GOD you’re here!’ I spent about two hours getting the switch back up, and they all thanked me.
I don’t know why I just shared that since I’ve never told anyone that story, but yeah, that was my biggest mistake.’
Despite how awesome the story was, we passed on him.
Another time, we had a system admin position that just opened. A young kid out of college applied. His dad was in senior leadership with the company, so of course, we were obliged to interview him. He was 30 minutes late to the interview and still came in with a fresh Starbucks. He basically bombed the interview, but we offered him a follow-up call which he missed.
About a week after, he emailed me and the interview team, CC’ing daddy saying he wasn’t interested in the job. I replied to all, including daddy, that based on his inability to make two interviews on time he was no longer considered a candidate.
Ah, good times!”
She Really Didn’t Care
“I was working as a front end supervisor for a big box retailer going into the holiday season. This was the beginning of November.
I get this girl who came in for an interview and I let her know it was seasonal work, but that we would be keeping some of the seasonal hires after January and inquired as to whether she was looking for seasonal or long-term.
In the most stereotypical Valley-Girl voice I’ve ever heard she replied, ‘Well, I basically got in trouble for bad grades and staying out too late, and my parents are making me pay for my own car insurance this month.’
That was it. She just stared at me expecting her to hire her on the spot.
I did not do that. I do still wonder if she ever got a job that helped her pay her car insurance for that month, though.”
The IT World Is Full Of Crazies
“I had a guy come in to interview for a junior developer role – we were advertising at local universities for current students/recent leavers and had set our expectations to match.
During the interview, I gave him access to a laptop with code examples (one of which would simply have required changing the text in the popup box, to do exactly what we asked), and asked him to write a very basic script (basically a ‘hello world’ popup box) just to show that he actually knew what he was doing. After 10 minutes of confusion, he asked if he could go home, google the question and email me his code. True to his word, he went home, googled the question exactly, pasted the answer from the top result….errors and all. He didn’t get the job. Every other applicant was able to do the test on the spot in less than 5 minutes.
The 2nd worst was a guy who applied for an L2 tech support position. The first issue was he showed up 45 minutes early and was extremely impatient, so he started off on the wrong foot. Then he told me the reason he was early/impatient was that his daughter had driven him because he had no car/license.
So, he’s then telling me about his couple of decades experience in IT as a system admin, project manager, IT manager, etc… Which, of course, then made me ask him if he had seen the clearly defined salary I had put on the job ad. He answered, ‘Yes I saw that, and would expect a significant promotion and double the salary after 6 months.’
He somehow seemed stunned that the interview concluded after that.”
One Proud Eagle Scout
“I sat in for RA interviews at my college.
We had an Eagle Scout come in and take us page by page through a scrapbook about his scout career.
PAGE. BY. PAGE.
It was 10 or 20 pages of him explaining each and every single one, taking a minute or 2 each time. We interrupted him to continue the interview to which he got a little angry and said he was almost finished.
He was able to add a page after the interview on how being an Eagle Scout doesn’t guarantee you an RA job.”
She Wasn’t Taking No For An Answer
“My boss was actually just telling me about a woman she interviewed for my job about six months before I was hired. She came in for the interview in cut off jean shorts and a ‘nice’ top that was more appropriate for the club scene.
Anyway, my boss decided early on in the interview that this woman wouldn’t be hired. After all the initial, cliche questions the woman would answer, ‘Hmm…I’m not sure.’ They say their goodbyes, ‘We’ll let you know,’ kind of crap, even though they didn’t hire her.
The following Monday though, she came in for work. They had to tell her she didn’t have the job and they were still going over all the other applicants. She left but came back Tuesday and then Wednesday, and every day she came in for a week or two, thinking she had the job. My boss finally had to tell her if she came back, they would call the police on her. She finally got the hint but wow, she really wanted to work, I guess.”
Two Idiots Miss Everything
“I was working as a temp for a business on the day they were holding interviews for new staff. The business took up one floor of a large office building. Clients and potential employees would press a buzzer outside the building which connected to the relevant floor/business, and the receptionist would speak to them and then press a button to open the door and they could come into the building and get the elevator to our floor. On this day, I was the receptionist responsible for buzzing people in.
All goes well throughout the morning. Then around lunchtime, two guys buzz asking to come up for their interviews. I check their names off and press the buzzer to open the door. 5 minutes go by and they still haven’t appeared from the elevator. They press the buzzer again. I buzz them in again. No guys show up. For half an hour they are asking to be buzzed in and I’m pressing the button and they are failing to open the door.
I’m starting to think maybe it’s me, but another guy presses the buzzer asking to come up for his interview, I buzz him in and a couple of minutes later, he’s getting out of the elevator.
Finally after almost an hour, well after their interview slots have passed, someone who worked on another floor was coming into the building and saw the guys standing outside. He buzzed me to ask what was going on and I asked him to let them in. He says he will and I wait, really curious now to meet these two guys who can’t open a door. 10 minutes go by, then another 10 and still nothing. Finally, almost an hour after the guy let them in and 2 hours after their interview times, some lady from another floor comes in leading two guys. She says, ‘These two have been sitting in our reception for an hour, thought I’d better bring them down.’
They didn’t get jobs…”
The Power Of The Shell
“I was moved from my former specialist position in IT to our development team as a programmer. My former boss asked that I sit in on interviews with candidates, as I would be able to ask technical questions. Our Endpoint IT manager is a GREAT manager, but not the best at IT–luckily, he KNOWS this, and surrounds himself with tech junkies and defers to his staff for tech things.
Our first interview was with a gentleman from a major company in our town, a Fortune 500-type company. He was a support technician there and the recruiter said he fit all of our necessary skill sets: Microsoft PowerShell scripting, basic C# programming, and preferably experience with encryption – if you can’t tell, that position was going to be hard to fill with that mix of skills, so we were flexible on it all.
This gentleman comes in wearing sunglasses -not transition lenses, they NEVER transitioned – and thankfully, he was wearing a suit. Less thankfully, it was green and tweed. Myself and the Assistant Manager started the interview, our manager came in halfway through.
We ask him what his experience with PowerShell is, and he responds: ‘I’ve not used it on the job, but I have read about it in a couple of articles on the web. It’s something I’m really excited about.’
Okay, fine, we didn’t expect to get a slew of support techs with deep PowerShell knowledge. So I ask, ‘What about it excites you?’
‘The power of the shell, really, and all that it can do.’
We ask what he knows about our company and what makes him want to work here, and he pretty much reads the first line of our Wikipedia. Fair enough, he did some web research. We ask why he wants to work here and he says, ‘Cause you’re hiring! And you need good talent!’
By the way, the sunglasses? They’re still on. My manager comes in, notices the Ray Bans, and immediately closes all the blinds. Making the room much darker. Sunglasses remain on. My boss shakes his hand, does his intro, gets caught up on the questions we’ve asked, then compliments the interviewee on his suit (said boss really loves tweed… we three joked about it a lot afterward). His response:
‘Yes, I apologize for being overdressed, I just came from a funeral.’
Before even touching on the latter aspect of that response, the company I work for is a rather conservative and old financial and banking institution. Ties are required for every male on staff, and suits are required for MOST positions (IT, thankfully, just has the tie requirement). The three of us were all in fine shirts and ties with business formal slacks. This Sunglasses Hut guy in a green tweed suit just apologized for being overdressed… because he just came from a funeral.
My boss had no idea what to say so just asked, ‘I’m terribly sorry… why didn’t you reschedule the interview?’
‘There wasn’t a scheduling conflict.’
When the interviewee finally left, my boss turns to assistant and I and asks, ‘Okay, did he explain the sunglasses before I got here?’ And we both simultaneously said, ‘No!’
I put code examples up on a computer screen and he read them from a distance; he literally just wore sunglasses the whole interview, never told us why.”