7 Worst Job Interview Experiences (True Stories)

There is nothing like going into a company for an interview. Firsthand, you see the people, the walls, and the culture. You are immersed in the nature of how the business operates in a way that using the product, reading a job posting or researching the company cannot explain.  There is no better time to ask yourself, could I work here?

For better or worse, not all places will make you think, this is the place to be. My co-workers all chose to work at SmartRecruiters because something about the vision, purpose, and culture just made them say, yes. But we did not find SmartRecruiters without professional hiccups.

In the career path of SmartRecruiters employees, we have each walked into a job interview, and been rudely surprised. Here are our true stories of the 7 worst job interview experiences:

Interview at Animal Shelter

A lady literally threw a cat at me. Luckily, I caught it. Trying to control my temper I asked, “What were you doing?”

The interviewer calmly said, “I wanted to make sure you’d react correctly to an animal jumping on you.”

Interview at Investment Bank

The interview process involved 10 to 12 people, one after another, entering the room. One guy walked in and said, “Hello. What did you get on your SAT?” He wrote down my answer.  Then asked, “What was your GPA?” He wrote down my answer, and left the room.

I asked the next person who entered the room, ‘Why do you like working here?’ and he told me, “I like going to parties and seeing people at other banks and knowing I make more money than them.”

Interview at Large Corporation

They asked me, “Why are man holes round?”

Interview at Tech Company

The phone interview began with, “You’ve got 10 minutes, and if my new born baby starts crying you’ve got five.” The baby cried.

Interview to be Bartender

They asked, “How easily do you cry?” and I told them, “Not very easily.”

The owner continued, “I’m gonna’ try to make you cry.” I thought he was really going to try and scare me. He pulled down his ears, crossed his eyes, and flapped his fake teeth at me.

“Are you an idiot while you are drunk?” I responded, “No.” He poured three shots of Crown, saying, “Take them like a man.”

 Interview at Uniform Services Company

It was the second round of interviews. I put on their hard hat for a tour of the facility. When we reached the laundry section, my interviewer picked up the clothes covered in mold and poo and whatever else children leave on school uniforms, saying “I live for this!” Taking nostril flaring sniffs, he shoved the dirty laundry in his own face before continuing, “If you wanna’ be a manager you gotta love this.”

Interview for Sales Position

There was a toy elephant on the desk. He said, “Sell me this elephant. But I want you to be really uncomfortable first, so take off your shirt and sell me the elephant.”

Always remember, as a job seeker you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Interviews help you learn what you want in a career. Stay true to your values, and don’t be afraid to say, “Thanks for your time, and good luck!”

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About David Smooke

David Smooke is Director of Social Media at SmartRecruiters.

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  1. Scott WeaverJune 5, 2013 at 6:37 pmReply

    Wait… so its inappropriate to throw animals at prospective candidates???

  2. interviewingcomJanuary 7, 2013 at 1:39 pmReply

    @RockiHowardSPHR Thanks for sharing our post! And so true–it is all about the candidate experience!

  3. GuestJanuary 4, 2013 at 4:25 amReply

    Actually, the question about why manholes are round isn’t as bad as it at first appears. The right answer (because it means the manhole cover can never fall through the manhole) shows an ability for logical deduction.

  4. ChristopherinHRJanuary 2, 2013 at 12:13 pmReply

    @lexiefo Fantastic… you could not make this stuff up!

  5. DavidSmookeDecember 28, 2012 at 11:52 amReply

    @interviewingcom THIS JUST GOT REAL (chalkboard-ed) #interview #interviews

    • interviewingcomDecember 28, 2012 at 11:56 amReply

      @DavidSmooke Hilarious!

  6. sarkari inDecember 27, 2012 at 7:28 amReply

    Its not interview its harassment.

  7. Spark HireDecember 20, 2012 at 2:06 pmReply

    Wow, these are some truly bad interview stories. There should certainly be no cat-throwing in interviews (or really anywhere else). These are all good examples of why you should be evaluating the company as much as they are evaluating you. Use the interview, whether in person or through online video, to decide whether this is a place you would be excited to come to work every day. If the answer is no, as it obviously was for these examples, wish them luck and move on.

  8. DanaRobinSaysDecember 19, 2012 at 4:34 pmReply

    @Mediabistro @interviewingcom The woman’s dog jumped in my lap just as I was “telling her a bit about myself.” Scared me half to death.

    • interviewingcomDecember 19, 2012 at 7:55 pmReply

      @DanaRobinSays @mediabistro that’s hilarious, but certainly unnerving. Hope it was a sweet dog.

  9. SidneyThe4thDecember 19, 2012 at 3:49 pmReply

    RT @Mediabistro #mbchats What’s the worst interview experience you’ve ever had? << Interviewer had a seizure during lunch. #TalkAboutAwkward

  10. lifeonthesceneDecember 19, 2012 at 3:46 pmReply

    @Mediabistro @interviewingcom Interview questions were taped to the table and I wasn’t allowed to touch it!

    • interviewingcomDecember 19, 2012 at 7:56 pmReply

      @lifeonthescene @mediabistro that’s strange! Never heard that before!

      • lifeonthesceneDecember 20, 2012 at 12:37 amReply

        @interviewingcom @Mediabistro

      • lifeonthesceneDecember 20, 2012 at 12:41 amReply

        @interviewingcom was seated at head of conf table w/ full group around table & questions taped 2 table in front of me at Saddleback College

      • lifeonthesceneDecember 20, 2012 at 12:42 amReply

        @interviewingcom incredibly bizarre interview that quickly made you realize you didn’t want to work there!

        • interviewingcomDecember 20, 2012 at 8:42 amReply

          @lifeonthescene I can only imagine!

  11. flt3December 19, 2012 at 12:11 pmReply

    I had a guy grill me about marketing. He asked my opinion about something and I told him. He asked me what evidence I had to support that, and I told that I’d seen it time and time again in practice. He told me that wasn’t good enough, and he wanted stats, so I cited an article I’d read. Then he told me that was all BS (although he didn’t use the abbreviation) and proceeded to talk about how great he was the entire rest of the interview. I had a few friends who thought it was a test to see how I held up under pressure, but I genuinely think he was an argumentative narcissist.
    I needed a new job, but not that much.

  12. tiffanypittmanDecember 19, 2012 at 11:26 amReply

    @Mediabistro My worst #interview experience was calming down a nervous guest who was hitting himself on the head & calling himself stupid

  13. SocialSalimaDecember 18, 2012 at 4:33 pmReply

    Great post! I’ll take door No. 2 >> My second round interview for an investment banking position included a series of 8 different interviews over 3 hours. I was asked to bring a standard calculator, 2 mechanical pencils, scrap paper and a book. I was to be evaluated quantitatively, qualitatively and on my choice of reading material which was supposed to occupy my idle mind between interviews (pre-smartphone era of course). None of the questions had a hint of emotional intelligence or any desire to know who I was behind the spreadsheet. I wonder how far we have really come?

    • flt3December 19, 2012 at 12:13 pmReply

      @SocialSalima – I had an interview like that, although I also had to take a written test (which I don’t think anyone even graded, since they basically offered me the job 30 minutes after the interview ended).

  14. CityStaffingDecember 18, 2012 at 1:46 pmReply

    @davidsmooke Thanks for the RT, enjoyed your post!

    • DavidSmookeDecember 18, 2012 at 1:59 pmReply

      @CityStaffing Thanks for Reading.

  15. CityStaffingDecember 18, 2012 at 12:16 pmReply

    @rajtweet_rivs Thanks for the RT, always interesting to read interviews gone bad :)

    • rajtweet_rivsDecember 18, 2012 at 12:18 pmReply

      @CityStaffing The bartender story is soo funny! Stay tuned, I’m getting stories from @rivscom employees on awesomely bad job-seekers.

      • CityStaffingDecember 18, 2012 at 12:45 pmReply

        @rajtweet_rivs Will do! Look forward to reading them :)

      • LexieFODecember 18, 2012 at 5:15 pmReply

        @rajtweet_rivs @CityStaffing @rivscom I could not believe it! I got the job and got used to dentures not always being in their place.

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