Candidates and Recruiters Share Their Interview Horror Stories

March 13, 2019 at 8:30 AM by Sydnie Blanchard

Candidates share their interview horror stories
If you’ve ever experienced the anxiety that comes along with a job interview, you’ve probably also tried to stave off your fears by asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”


Well, we posed that question to our friends – and a few fellow Entelopes – asking them to dish on their worst interview moments. Brace yourself!


Locked Out

“I was interviewing for an early stage startup and not once, but TWICE, I showed up for an interview with my would-be boss and both times he had forgotten the keys to the office, pushing out the interview 3 times.”


Buffet Blunder

“It was my third round with an exciting company and I was scheduled to be there for about 5 hours. The first half of the day went well and I was looking forward to the next session, listed on the agenda as “fun lunch”. I winced a little when we walked to the kitchen area and I discovered the company had catered an Indian buffet, as I have a bit of a sensitive stomach. I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t adaptable or easy going, so I loaded my plate up like everyone else. About 45 minutes later, the Indian food was back with a vengeance and the final interviewer just walked in so I decided to stick it out. I was flushed and in a full flop sweat. I doubt the woman interviewing me even noticed my distress, though, because she barely looked up from her phone once. As soon as it was over, I booked it to the bathroom, which was actually really beautifully decorated.”


Interview or Interrogation?

“I got a bad feeling about the company as soon as I walked into the office, but chalked it up to nerves. The first interviewer stopped me about 20 minutes in and asked me “Is that Afro your… thing?” I was confused and reluctantly answered ‘Not really… it’s just my hair I guess.’ He continued to press me on it and then asked if I would be willing to change my hair to get the job. I told him I do something different with it when I feel like it. He sort of squinted at me and said ‘So you do take your hair pretty personally then’ I got up and left.”


Parenting Emergency

“It was one of those multi-hour onsite interviews and I noticed a faint vibrating going off every few minutes. My phone. I thought I’d silenced it. The calls kept coming, which was definitely unusual because most people who’d actually call me knew I was at an interview. While I had a few moments between interviewers, I checked my phone and saw I had 3 voicemails from my son’s pre-school. The next interviewer walked in right as the message began playing: ‘Please call us back, there’s been an incident. Your son seems to have the stomach flu. Please pick him up ASAP and bring new pants.’ The guy looked at me and just back peddled out of the room and said he’d go get the recruiter.”   



“The worst interview I ever went on, kind of never happened. I walked into this very busy office, people seemed to be in somewhat of a frenzy but I didn’t think much of it. The recruiter kind of hurried me into a small conference room and said someone would be in shortly. After about 10 minutes, I peak my head out of the conference room, trying to see if I could spot the recruiter, he’s nowhere to be seen. I go back and sit down, more time passes. After another 10 minutes, I email the recruiter. After about 45 minutes of solitude, my frazzled recruiter bursts through the door and explained there was a server down issue and that the team wouldn’t be able to interview me today. They invited me back the following week. I didn’t get it.”


And of course, recruiters have seen it all. See some of our favorites below.

“I once had a candidate show up to the interview in a cape. Not like an Olivia Pope cape, but like a full on magicians cape…”


“My VP of Eng & Product walked out in the middle of an interview with a Director of UX candidate to go deal with a software bug. He left her in his office for about 45 minutes before I even was alerted that he had abandoned the interview when the candidate texted me.”

We hope these stories made you feel a little better about your past interview hiccups, or at the very least made you giggle. Ultimately, the blunders of these interviewers serve as a reminder to Talent Acquisition teams to host quarterly or semi-annual interview workshops for hiring managers. As a TA team, it’s important that you have confidence that every interviewer knows how to properly represent the company by creating a respectful and welcoming environment for candidates. TA leaders should also equip their team with troubleshooting and crisis management tactics so they feel confident handling interviews that do go awry. More on that in our next post!

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