Going to a job interview is a difficult, nerve wracking experience. But these stories make you wonder if they even wanted to get the job!
“Over 15 years ago I was working part time in a shop and someone came in to ask if there were any positions available. She gave us her CV and said something like, ‘You probably think I’m overqualified, but I just want an easy job for the summer and I’ll start applying for proper jobs after my holiday.’
The strangest part was that she wasn’t anything like overqualified. She was a teenager or at the oldest 20, with zero work experience, but very well spoken, privately educated (or maybe a grammar school) and at a fairly (but not extremely) prestigious university. I guess by ‘proper job’ she meant graduate scheme but still. My boss, who owned the place, ripped up her cv and barred her.”
Can I Hire The Roommate?
“I was once hiring for a position in which I stressed STRONG WRITTEN ENGLISH language skills are ABSOLUTELY necessary (for conversing with clients in English in emails, for a law firm).
I received a beautiful and eloquently written cover letter in one application, and I was like, ‘Wow! This is the person!’
But when I interviewed her… well… let’s just say that English was not her first, or second, or probably even her 3rd language!
So I began to grow suspicious. But I thought… ok… maybe her written form of English is excellent, while her speaking ability is poor… which actually happens sometimes.
So as a test, still being highly friendly with her to put her at ease, I had her come around to my side of the desk, and actually sit at my computer with MS-Word open on the screen, and I told her that I just wanted to get a quick feel for her typing speed…
So I told her to go ahead and type anything she wanted… whatever came to her mind.
It was horrific…
I was mostly speechless and said something to the effect of, ‘Well… umm… ok… but your cover letter was so much better than this. Maybe you’re just nervous?’
At which point she immediately admitted that she had her roommate help her compose the cover letter!
At which point I blurted out: I’d like to hire your roommate! Is she available?
But I never heard back from her (or her roommate).”
The Wrong Kind Of Initiative
“Not a hiring manager, but the person who collected the resumes to give to the GM. They usually had me read through the stack and put the good ones on top.
We had this guy come in, he was probably in his late teens. He asked me where he could hand in his resume, I said I could pass it along to the manager. He was not happy with that.
The GM wasn’t working that day, so I couldn’t have her come up to talk to this kid. He just stormed away, and proceeded to walk around the entire store for an hour, asking every staff member he saw if they were the manager. He only stopped when one of the supervisors (who just came on shift) just told him that she was management. He shoved his resume in her face and left the store.
She brought me the resume, because, like I said, I was on customer service. The resumes stayed up there in a locked drawer, with the best on top, until there was a need to hire someone.
I gave his resume a quick look through. His first mistake was it was 3 pages long. It wasn’t because it had lots of content. He just used a huge font.
His resume consisted of this;
Name, Phone Number, Email
His high school, and the year graduated. (it was the year before so he was about 18)
His previous work experience which included:
Being a high school student, mowing the lawn at his house, and wrapping gifts for a charity in 2003, which would have been when he was 5, at most. His reference was his mother.
We obviously didn’t hire him.”
Please Read The Job Listing
‘I only hire for remote positions. For the love of all that is holy, please include a cover letter and read the job listing before you write it. Then read it again. If it has anything that resembles a question, answer it in your cover letter. If there are any specific requirements around the application process, go through them. This will make sure your application passes any automated checks and doesn’t get tossed right away.
Your cover letter should be personalized for the position you are applying for. It’s painfully easy for the recruiter to tell when you’re using a boilerplate cover letter.
And last but not least, show you’re passionate about the role and that you know a thing or two about the company and the industry it operates in.
As for your resume, don’t necessarily make it ‘stand out’. I see too many over-done resumes that show weird color palettes and charts for proficiencies, or that are hosted on the applicant’s website behind a password. If you’re in doubt, go minimal, apply the company’s color palette to a few resume elements and describe any interesting tidbits in the cover letter itself.
This won’t guarantee anything except for the fact that you’ll get a fair shot at the position and won’t get rejected for a dumb reason.”
Let Me Put This Application Somewhere Safe
“Not in charge of hiring but got the phone call that gave the candidate a big ‘no’ from us. The position was prison records staff, one of the applicants called into the office and I picked up.
She didn’t want to talk to manager or HR, had questions about the position and how much physical work it would include. There is a physical requirement stated and specified in the job posting that includes heavy lifting (some of the records are like sacks of potatoes), standing for prolonged periods of time and a lot of walking. All of which is evaluated by a medical professional (paid for by the company) prior to employment.
Basically the lady just wanted to sit at a desk and not have to put in foot work. The Records manager overheard the odd conversation because I kept asking her to talk to HR or the manager and she kept refusing. Manager asked what it was about and told her exactly what the candidate disclosed to me. Manager just set that application aside to focus on the three other applications for the same position.”
Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire
“I had to interview a few candidates to fill a receptionist role for our office. In the past, we have used temp services and I wanted to make this a temp-to-hire position so we can try a few candidates out to see who makes the best fit.
My last interview of the day was with a candidate that arrived more than 10 minutes late. Not only that but she messed my name up so bad that the front desk didn’t know who she was looking for. After all that, we finally sat down for the interview and she has no idea what exactly she’s interviewing for. Then she blamed ‘her people’ for not giving her details about the position when I KNOW they did.
There was just no personal accountability on her part and I knew within 3 minutes of meeting her it wasn’t going to work.”
“That’s Book Knowledge”
“I was building two teams of people to help map, document, and plan moves of a large number of financial applications to a new data center. We were doing 8 to 12 phone interviews a day for a while to narrow down the list of people we wanted to talk to in person.
These roles required high level knowledge across networking, storage, apps, etc. didn’t need to be an expert but needed to understand how things talked and functioned. One of my easy start off questions was ‘Name 5 protocols in the TCP/IP suite.’ Now. If you know anything about networking at all you’ll realize I just gave you two and I’d allow it. Some specified that but then give me 5 others. Nice. One woman who just graduated with a MIS degree told me, ‘That’s book knowledge. No one uses that. I’d just look it up.’ When I pressed and explained that this was information we commonly used she stood her ground. The rest of the call wasn’t much better. Be self aware. Listen to those interviewing you.
A few days later HR reached out to me and said the interviewee thought we were being racist. I reminded them that it was a phone interview and I had no idea what race that woman was. Never heard anything else about it.”
“He had a kind of strange speech pattern”
“I have interviewed about 10 people for positions in my company. We are field service for an uncommon type medical equipment. We had one candidate’s resume specifically state they he has worked on one of these devices for 5 years. When asked about how he liked working on device X. He had no idea what we were saying like he never heard of it before in his life. Obviously, he goes in the ‘no’ pile. Obviously, he was just padding the resume.
On the other hand I had one candidate go to the wrong address then come to the interview sweaty and disheveled. He had a kind of strange speech pattern. But during the interview he said a key phrase that I think most field reps would appreciate: Sometimes you have to fix the customer. Boom, hired. No regrets. The guy has been great.”
It’s Not About How Capable Someone Is
“I was not in charge but sat in on several interviews as scribe during a bulk hire (hiring about 40 people before the financial crisis). I sat with several different interviewers and despite them having to score the candidate on very well defined criteria, the subjectivity of the interviewers was very apparent.
Saw some great candidates give great interviews but get low scores across the board because the interviewer just didn’t happen to like them. Saw some terrible candidates get really high scores because the interviewer thought they were messing up because they were nervous and felt bad for them, marks for effort is what we called that in primary school.
Pretty disgraceful to fail someone for an interview on petty personal stuff, but that is what happens when your interviewers are untrained and just fancy a day out of the office to scare some kids.
Worst thing is they didn’t have to work with them at all it was a general hire, company had about 3,000 staff.”
“Interviewing a woman in her 50s for a position on our administrative team ) and specifically looking for someone more mature who could potentially provide insight via experience:
‘Describe why you believe you would be the best fit for this role.’
‘Well, unlike most of the 20 and 30-somethings these days I’m not lazy or ungrateful and I actually know the meaning of work ethic.’
Me, 25: ‘Aww, come on, I’m not sure that’s entirely fair – our existing team is predominantly in that age bra-‘
“Well, sweetie…” [leans over my desk and touches my hand] “…YOU might not feel you’re like that, but if things keep going the way they are with these millennials, most companies won’t exist by the time you’re my age!”
Another lady vomited in my paper basket.”
“Our Standards Weren’t The Highest”
“Not really a ‘company’ per se, but I was the assistant manager at an A&W and due to the actual store manager being lazy (she got canned shortly after I and the other ‘assistant’ left because nothing got done) the assistant and I did a lot of the interviews.
As a fast food place, obviously our standards weren’t the highest, but one firm no for me was appearances. I by no means expected people (mostly high schoolers) to show up in suit in tie, but for me the bare minimum was nice (no holes) pants of some kind and at least a polo. I could not tell you the amount of times a kid came in in cargo shorts or basketball shorts and a tee shirt.
Absolute worst case was a kid who agreed to a Saturday interview because I was in during the morning and it was the only time he was available. Turns out this kid had been hunting that morning, and showed up in camo pants and shirt, with dirt and grime still on his face.”
Baby Momma Was His Reference
“I’m not a hiring manager, but I used to accept applications and glance over them before handing them to the hiring manager. I once had a kid I knew in high school turn one in.
Down in his references, he wrote ‘Baby Momma’ and ‘P.O’ in the relationship-to-reference sections. He spelled a ton of words wrong, and wrote ‘Made food n stuf’ in his past job description. One of the jobs in his prior work history was ‘Dealer.’
They were pressed on workers, so they hired him anyways a year later, and apparently, he did an ok job. His brother was later on an episode of Cops. Good family.”
Maybe They Hired Their Grandson For A Reason
“Taking bad about your previous employer/company/boss. Even if they did you wrong and you were totally blameless in whatever situation, there’s a tactful way to talk about it. On occasion I’ve been desperate for a warm body and hired someone who did this in the interview and I don’t think there’s one single time when it’s worked out. People who are willing to air dirty laundry in an interview are generally malcontents who will be miserable employees and coworkers.
The thing to understand is that I don’t know the whole story, and even if you’ve told me the whole story, I have no idea how true it is. In this case, for example, your reason might be entirely accurate, but maybe they replaced you with the grandson because you weren’t actually successful at the job and they needed to replace you somehow. I don’t know, but I’m definitely wondering about that. I’d probably handle your situation by saying something like, ‘They made some management and staffing decisions that I didn’t agree with. I was concerned about the direction the company was taking so we mutually agreed to part ways.'”
Did He Even Want The Job?
“I heard they didn’t hire the guy that came in with a hat that had a confederate flag which read ‘kiss my rebel behind.’
Though it could have been because he got into a fist fight with a coworker at his last job. Or maybe it was because he said he had reliable transportation and then asked to use the phone to call his ride because he neither had a phone nor a vehicle, and when his ride wouldn’t come pick him up he yelled, “I don’t care when he wants to come pick me up. Tell him to get his stupid self up here now.” At the front register.
One of those probably did it.
I’m not sure if he was unaware or just didn’t care. I’m thinking the latter”
“No’s All Around”
“I worked for a gym/community center daycare. One of the questions we asked was about their discipline style/techniques for difficult children. One girl actually told us that she had a very difficult child and the parents had given her permission to restrain the kiddo in their car seat and lock them in a small room or closet. Yeah, that’s not a good answer. No’s all around.
I understand restraint plans and difficult children. I’ve been doing child care for almost 2 decades and know that there are some situations that it would be required. BUT anytime I have ever worked with a parent it did not include restraining them to include also locking them inside of a small room/closet. And the situation she explained it in, it did not sound like it was prompted by a care plan for a specific disorder. Just that they did that when the child got out of control. If she had mentioned some kind of extenuating circumstance that involved a professional, maybe. But that was not the story we got.”
“I Am Not Your Friend”
“We mostly get teens/young student-aged adults during summer.
Any of the following:
-Friends who apply for a job together or want to do their interviews together at the same time or in general both want to be hired at the same time. Two no’s.
-Bring food/drink into interview room.
-Entirely casual/street clothing or entirely casual mannerisms/’winging the interview’ way of speaking, not taking the job interview seriously/professionally
-Trying to gain rapport with me. I am not your friend right now, I’m judging you and sizing you up. Do not try to appeal to emotion.
-Mention they just quit/walked out on their previous job.
-Ask if we test (We don’t)
-They mention their parents or just do or say anything in general that gives me the impression that they only applied in the first place because their parents made them and they really don’t want the job
All things that have made me write a big ‘NO!’ on applications after they leave.”
“I Don’t Actually Want The Job”
“I was in the US interviewing people and I had a short window so I was interviewing 30-minute slots back-to-back for like ten hours straight.
Someone we’d chosen for one of the slots came and right away was like, I don’t actually want the job, but I’d like to sell you my plan for how you can improve XYZ cost in your business. He started with, ‘I’m sure XYZ is one of your highest costs, right?’
When I replied, ‘Actually, that’s a profit center for us,’ you’d think that would have been the end of the pitch, but no. I actually left the interview (it was in a coffee shop) because I couldn’t get him to leave, and did the next interview at another table until he finally left. His follow-up email assured me that he thought our conversation went really well.”