We’ve all been there. Had a terrible case of interview jitters and absolutely no way to get rid of them other than to face ’em employers head on. Hopefully, you nail it – if not, let’s hope you messed up real bad and at least have a great story to tell.
The following AskRedditors responded to the question, “Employers of Reddit, what was the worst way a candidate messed up a job interview with your company?”
Curious of other stories, take a look at the original thread at the end of the article.
Proceeded to respond to the program manager’s question of “what did you do/would you do if you had a conflict with another coworker?” with an extremely long anecdote about how he worked with this guy who got his girlfriend at the time pregnant, and he had to see this guy every day at work and resist beating him up. The program manager was staring at him and went “oh…” and then he felt the need to say “I mean, I got him outside of work, but I NEVER touched him at work.”
Had an interviewee show up 10 minutes late to an interview, tell us our clock was wrong and proceed to take it off the wall and adjust it. After he left, of course, we adjusted it back to the actual time.
The interview was for an architect. He did not get the job. We needed someone we could work with.
I became the hiring manager for a mom and pop restaurant at 18. I looked really young too, most people put me at about 16 at the time. At any rate, I’d exchanged some emails with a woman wanting to become a server. I was planning on hiring her as she had lots of experience and seemed really nice. So I scheduled her for an in person interview. Keep in mind that I had never actually seen her in person.
So the day of her interview comes and I just happen to be at the hostess station when she arrives. When I greet her, “Hi, welcome to _____!” She cuts me off with what has become one of my favorite instances of self-sabotage I’ve ever witnessed.
“Alright, listen. I’m about to get hired her as a server. So what that means is that you, as a little hostess, are going to sit me with all the big tables and give me all the good regulars or I won’t tip you out for jack and I’ll make your life a living hell. Got it? Good. Now, run along and tell your hiring manager, rfs14701, that I’m here.”
I smiled back sweetly and said, “Actually, I’m rfs14701. I’m sorry to have you come up here for no reason, but I’ve already filled all of our open serving positions. You have a nice day.”
There’s no way I’m going to hire someone with that ignorant AND with that crappy attitude.
I hire bar staff, we don’t require any kind of experience so it should be an easy interview for people, right? – one girl literally said “I don’t take crap from customers because I can’t deal with people’s attitudes.” Err, ok?
Another girl told us that she can’t handle alcohol for religious reasons and can only work from 5pm to 8pm… what kind of hours are those!?
“You guys would be lucky to have me, Google is trying to recruit me too.”
I wished him the best of luck at his job with Google.
A guy once confessed that he was a convicted felon for drug trafficking and that he actually had no experience in the industry we were in. Guy turned out to be the best employee I’ve ever had, out of around 200 people I’ve hired. Unbelievable.
I was hiring for a data entry position in an accounting office where no one from the outside ever visited. One applicant seemed VERY nervous and stressed, almost panicky. About halfway through the interview, she stood up, unzipped her slacks and dropped them to the floor to show me her legs, which had been badly burned in a car accident.
(I didn’t hire her based on her lack of experience…)
Me: You mentioned on your application that you are a good leader, could you give me an example of your leadership abilities?
Candidate: “Absolutely! At my last job, we hated our Chef and I organized the kitchen staff to walk out during the Friday night rush.”
Resume included a startup he founded.
I asked about it: “Tell me about your startup, sorry, what was it called again?”
He forgot the frigging name of the startup he founded a year prior.
It went downhill from there.
20 something chick with an impressive looking resume…
…but then she showed up with her Mom in tow, and actually expected mom to come into the interview.
“My religion doesn’t allow me to physically come in contact with dogs. Hire me.” Umm no.
I mean, I get it. It’s a religious thing. But maybe…don’t apply at a small animal veterinary hospital?
Kind of a weird story with a twist:
A woman applied for an artist position at my workplace (we did a lot of game research at the time). During the interview, I asked if we could review her portfolio, she nonchalantly said of course. I flipped through and it was ALL straight up gang-rape manga, tentacle porn – all women in various poses – beautiful women in color drawings. I was taken aback and she seemed pretty unphased. I cut the interview short and put her at the bottom of the pile.
Later that night, I got home and chatted with my wife about our day at work. She asked how the interview process was going. I brought up this woman’s portfolio and told her it was unexpected and offensive stuff. A pause filled the room and my wife genuinely asked, “Were they drawn well?” Puzzled, I answered honestly that they were drawn very well despite the subject matter. She replied, “Well if she can draw well, what does it matter what she draws in her spare time?”
The following week we hired her.
Our front desk representative let her into the meeting room and advised her that we would be there in just a minute. Another manager and I walked in not even 5 minutes later and she was asleep with her head on the desk. We just let her go, and she woke up about 40 minutes later, gathered her things and left according to the front desk.
She then contacted us about a week later saying that she was sorry for missing the interview and that she had a family emergency that prevented her from showing up.
We allowed her another interview, in which she stayed awake, and we actually ended up hiring her.
She was then terminated shortly after for multiple instances of falling asleep at her desk.
Interviewed a system administrator for a contract job at my office.
He interviewed great over the phone. Seemed very knowledgeable. We give the go ahead for the contract company to bring him on.
Three weeks later, he’s moved cross country and comes into the office. Immediately something seems off about him. We get him all his accounts setup and his own computer.
A co-worker gives him a few simple tasks. New guy says “why don’t you show me how you would do it, and I’ll take notes.”
We soon learn he doesn’t know what RDP is. Or ping. Or… anything. All things he knew in the interview.
Jerk had someone else phone interview for him.
We called the contract company and had him fired.
What was crazy to me was my coworkers were so afraid of confrontation that they continued to help this guy get his other accounts and stuff setup, even after they knew he was a fake, until he left for the day. I wanted him to get frog marched out of the building.
A girl talked about her breasts, her ex-boyfriend stalking her, how she carries a gun at all times (even though it’s illegal in certain places in our state) how she had a child at 15 and regrets it and that the child is taken care of by her mother who refuses to speak to her. She went on about how at her last job was cleaning up poop at a burger king and she spoke in graphic detail about cleaning up feces with pennies in it, and how she was fired from that job “for some reason”, and how she wants to bang our manager.
…for a part time retail position.
I really wish I was making this up. It was the most uncomfortable ten minutes of my life.
Even worse, she seemed to seriously believe that we couldn’t hire her because there were “not enough positions” and kept showing up…every day.
When I was a teenager I worked at a chain pizza restaurant. A guy came in for an interview and seemed like a nice guy. He turned around to leave and he had a tattoo of a pot leaf with the word “canabus” on his head. That’s right. Not cannabis. Canabus.
He claimed to be graduating from law school when in fact he had flunked out, as we discovered once we started checking up his references.
The worst part was that he had interviewed really well (how we got to the referencing stage), and the position didn’t even require a law degree! We desperately needed someone and we’d have happily hired him if he’d only been honest. So stupid, so frustrating.
A guy showed up to a job fair at a nice hotel downtown. He walks in dressed like he just came off the corner selling drugs. Long baggy shorts, ratty old Jordans, and a baggy hoodie. We thought he just came in the wrong hall but sure enough, he was here for an interview.
The other manager decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and started interviewing him. About five minutes into the interview the guy asks if it was OK for him to park out front of the hotel. Now, this Hotel is on the busiest street in the city and there were about 20 signs around saying no parking. The other manager tells the guy this and he yells “OH SHOOT!” and runs out.
He came back about an hour later, this time smelling strongly of marijuana. He said he parked his car and wanted to continue the interview. We told him thanks but we have already filled the position. He freaked out then started demanding we pay for his parking and parking ticket. He was then removed by security.
Not me but friend of mine, interviewed a guy to become a video games journalist. Applicant: “What are the prerequisites for this job?” Friend: “Well above all you need vast knowledge of the video game landscape down to the C64” Applicant: “Ha, that’s a trick question! It’s called N64!” …
Worked at a computer games company. Applicant came in and made jokes all the time, laughed, was sort of dismissive of any mention of workload and gave us the impression of “hey, I’m 45 and this is a children’s job I can do half and still be better than three of you.” When we came to do a test (she was applying to be a translator), she still joked and pretended playful only to not manage to complete the whole assignment in the time we gave her. And quality sucked badly, too…
The manager at a bookstore I used to work for, had a guy show up and she sat down with him in our cafe. Then it ended. When we asked her what happened, she said that when she asked him why he wanted to work there, he told her “Oh, well I don’t really want a job … my mom keeps making me do interviews in order to not have to move out.”
She thanked him for his time and ended the interview there.
I was a hiring manager for a local telecommunications company in So Cal. We get this candidate that was applying for a sales rep position and everything goes pretty well until he starts to stare at the other manager in the interview. He continues to answer our questions and I look down and he clearly has gotten an erection, I mean full tilt, and he continues to stare at my co-worker (she is a woman) and does not stop. It got really creepy, and he asked to use the restroom as he was leaving. I hate to think about what he did in there.
Needless to say he did not get the job and was nearly escorted out by security.
I was interviewing a guy to be a bond portfolio manager. The interview was at 3:30 on a Friday. We had him scheduled to meet 3 people. The guy comes in and says “I hope this wraps up by 5, as I have to take a helicopter to Block Island.” I chatted with him a bit to see what kind of guy would say something like that, then I ended the interview and sent him on his way without him speaking with anyone else.
He actually called back on Monday to see if he got the job.
A colleague of mine called this guy in for an interview. He didn’t show and about 2 hours after he was due in, he called and said he’d been hit by a car. The colleague decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and they arranged another day. The day arrives and he didn’t turn up again. We got a call from him a while later saying he’d broken his tooth on an almond and couldn’t come as he’d had to rush to a dentist. My incredibly trusting colleague decided to try one more time another day. The guy turned up drunk.
Conducted an interview with a teenage boy, which was his first interview for his first job ever. He was just the legal minimum age to start working and was clearly so nervous to the point of being petrified. We always look past that especially for kids completely fresh to the workforce. Anyhoo, he’s actually going ok for someone so nervous, stammering a lot and tripping up words but he’s doing well. Until he starts looking a bit green.
He asks if he could excuse himself for a moment to go to the toilet which we let him. My manager and I just give each other a “WTH” look when he leaves, but again it’s the poor guy’s first ever interview for his first job and despite all of it, he was doing ok. Until he comes back with his mother. He looks a lot better, but he just smiles and sits down again without saying a word. His mom speaks up “Oh, I’m sorry about [Boy], he gets quite I’ll when he’s nervous. I hope that doesn’t put you off!” By this point, things are getting odd but we insist it’s fine and we understand. Thinking that’s all mom had to say, but nope, she sits right down and says “Oh good, I hope then you don’t mind if I take over the interview, like I said he’s quite sick and I think it’s best if I answer for him”.
That was the deal breaker. We gave mom and the kid one last chance and told them it was quite alright and he was doing fine. Mom insisted she stayed. The kid just sat there all smug and happy, and Mommy dearest answered every single question. We would ask the question directly to the boy, and his mom would lean across and answer for him. Needless to say, he did not get the job.
I was friends with the hiring supervisor at a job once, who told me this one.
Guy dropped a bag of methamphetamine while taking something else out of his pocket in an interview. He actually could have gotten away with this, as the interviewer is something like 80% blind. However, he said “Oh, sorry” to which the interviewer replied, “for what?”
His answer? “I dropped my meth.”
A few years back I had to replace my admin so I had to conduct several interviews. Had two candidates tell me they were only working a desk job until their music careers took off.
Still the worst was a young girl who told me that she planned to be married and pregnant by the end of the year (this was in April.) I asked if she was engaged and she said no, that she did not even have a boyfriend.