Interview Horror Stories

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

We all had one of those days!

You can find your keys. You spill coffee all over your brand new shirt. Your car gets hit in the parking lot. But what happens when these things coincide with one of life’s most stressful situations: The Job Interview . . .

Caught Sneaking Off

Interviewer:
"I once had a candidate come to be interviewed while he was supposed to be on company business in a completely different area. While he was being interviewed a truck crashed into his company car and crushed it. He had a hard time explaining to his boss why he was not where he was supposed to be.

But we did give him the job! "

Result: Got the Job!

Falling Down on the Job

Interviewee:
"The interview went on for over an hour. My legs were crossed the entire time. When the interview concluded, I stood to shake hands and leave. I did not realize until too late that my leg was asleep and I did not have control to stand. I ended up collapsed on the floor with the interviewer helping me up. I panicked about what a great first impression that would make! I did get the job though! My boss and I laughed that I just ‘fell into the job.?

Result: Got the Job!

An Out-of-Pocket Experience

Interviewee:
"I interviewed for a CEO position with a member of the board, and the subject of children came up.  I pulled out my wallet to show a picture of my son, and everything else came out of my pocket and all over the floor.  Not very dignified.  There really was no coming back from it  Next time, I'll be content to simply talk about my family if necessary."

Result: Did not get the job

As Quiet as a Mouse

Interviewer:
"While I was interviewing someone, out of the corner of my eye I saw a mouse step into a sticky trap.  The interviewee was talking and did not hear the mouse start to cry out.  I kept the conversation going to the end, never breaking eye contact with the person.  The mouse continued to cry - it was heartbreaking. After the interview was over another employee and I peeled the mouse off the trap, hair by hair and let it go out in the field."

Result: Unknown

Imitation Is Not the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Interviewer:
"I was the interviewer and the job seeker showed me MY OWN Work and claimed it was his. My name was printed on it! When I confronted him about it he simply stated that if he had gotten the job then he could have done it - not good enough!"

Result: Did not get the job

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Interviewer:
"At the end of the interview, she told me that she was SURE we'd work out SO well together.  Then, smiling and perky, she said she had to go, because she was parked in one ‘those’ spots and was afraid she was going to get a ticket.  I asked what spots?  She said, 'You know, the ones for the old people.'  She was parked in a handicap spot.

 Ironically, she was applying for a job at a company that serves millions of seniors, where we require that our employees show respect to all clients, and are especially sensitive to the needs of our older clients."

Result: Did not get the job

Agony of the Feet

Interviewee:
"I thought the interview was going reasonably well, when the lead person on the three person interview panel took off his shoes and put his feet on top of his desk right in my face. The space in which the interview was being held was slightly larger than the desk. As he put his feet up, he asked me a question and I, shocked but not missing a beat, simply answered the question. I wasn't sure if that was a test on dealing with rude people or unusual situations, or a signal that I was not going to get the job. Fortunately, I didn't get the job."

Result: Did not get the job

All Wet

Interviewee:
" I was on my way to a job interview in NYC. A group of us, pedestrians, stood on the corner waiting to cross the  street., We were packed at least 10 or 15 deep.  One of us could have died of a heart attack and never fallen down -- that's how tightly we were jammed  together.  I heard a mortal cry go up from the people immediately in front of  me, and saw a taxi speeding along the curb toward our corner, tossing up a  6 foot wall of water from the gutter as he came.  No one escaped.  Every one  of us was drenched from head to foot with a deluge of water.  I considered  continuing to my interview for a moment, but then trudged dejectedly (and  soggily) back to my employment agent's office.  The agent made it perfectly  clear she was disgusted with me, and I had to find another employment  agent."

Result: Did not get the job

Like Pulling Teeth

Interviewer:
"One that sticks out the most was this one gentleman that I can tell was down on his luck.  I felt bad for him and wished that I could help but even though he had some of the relevant work experience, I knew that his personality wouldn't have been a good fit with our customers.  When I got to the benefits that our company offered, his face lit up with the prospect of receiving dental insurance.  He interrupted me and immediately told me how excited he was about the dental insurance.  I asked him why and then he told me about a tooth that was hurting him and really needed to come out because of the decay.  And then, he showed me the tooth.  He opened his mouth wide and asked that I look inside his mouth as proof that he needed the dental insurance!  I couldn't believe it!"

Result: Did not get the job

Crying Over Spilled Coffee

Interviewee:
"I accepted coffee and then proceeded to drop it in a box of papers the interviewer had in front of her desk. The interviewer was asking another employee a question and missed the whole thing, so I acted like I was just finishing it up (pretending to drink it) when she came back into the room. I never said a word - even though the box was flooded with coffee and whatever was in that box was most definitely ruined. BIG shocker - I didn't get a job offer!"

Result: Did not get the job

A Fine Kettle of Fish

Interviewee:
"There was a large fish tank in the wall behind the interviewer containing a piranha.  About 5 minutes into the interview, someone behind the wall opened the top of the tank & tossed in a couple of smaller fish.  The piranha ate one immediately.  Next it slowly stalked around the remaining fish and consumed it just as our interview was concluding.  I never commented on the event behind my host."

Result: Unknown

Make It Up as You Go Along

Interviewee:
"I'm not sure if anyone else has this problem, but it is totally embarrassing. I blanked out and couldn’t remember my previous employer's name.  So, I just picked one out of the top of my head and went on talking and no-one knew the difference.  I ended up in the top 2, but was not the one picked for the position - (Maybe, they did know???)"

Result: Did not get the job

Have Your Gum and Chew It Too

Interviewee:
"An applicant forgot he was chewing gum about halfway through the interview. He took the gum out of his mouth and attempted to hand it to me or the other manager while apologizing for forgetting and asking us if we wanted to take the gum from him until the end. " 

Result: Did not get the job

Thank you to everyone who submitted their interview horror stories. We received several seriously scary stories about job hunting in this difficult economy. Based on your comments we will be covering topics like "Overqualified: How to Sell yourself Short" and "Illegal Interview Questions."


This week however we are going to feature some lighter topics so get ready to feel better about your last interview after reading these stories of interviews gone horribly wrong.

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