Interview Horror Stories
While most people may be applying layers of joker makeup, stocking up on sweets for a trick-or-treat mission around the neighbourhood, or slipping on their dancing trainers for a spooky rave out on the town, we at Search recall some of our top interview horror stories. These comical yet horrific tales provide an accurate portrayal of both sides of the recruitment coin: the consultant perspective vs the candidate perspective.
The great escape
“If the world of recruitment were a trick-or-treater, then I guess you could say I was the one who got tricked! As a sort of strange welcome into the industry, I had an unusual experience whilst attempting to place my very first candidate. I had met with the individual prior to the interview, fully screened them against the role, made sure they were happy and prepared them for the interview. I got a call from the HR Director 20 minutes after the candidate was meant to arrive at the company asking where they were. Slightly bemused, I asked “Have they not arrived?” “No,” was the reply, “but they could be lost, as we have a big car park with a few entrances, so I’ll check with security.” I got a call 10 minutes later from the Director who explained that the security guard had let the candidate through the gate 10 minutes prior to the scheduled interview, directed them to the main entrance, and told them where to park. Two minutes later the candidate drove around to the same security check-point to leave, after having driven around the entire car park and past the entrance. The guard asked, “Aren’t you having an interview, and have I not just let you in?” to which the candidate replied, “yes and I’m leaving, please let me out!” I never heard from the candidate since.”
Dressed to distress
“I once had small crisis on my hands after neglecting to thoroughly prep a candidate who was ranked at a senior level. I assumed that he would have basic common sense, given his credentials and career experience on his CV. However, and much to my horror, I received a rather angry call from the client on the interview day. After some colourful language from their end, they informed me that they would most certainly NOT be hiring the candidate, as he stepped into the building wearing a bright purple suit and a pinky belt.”
“I once had a candidate flying in at his own expense from Germany to attend an interview in Bradford. While he was on his flight to Leeds/Bradford airport, I got a call from the client saying that the role was on hold and that they no longer wished to see him. I explained that he had taken time off his current job and had spent money on flights, insisting that they should see him out of courtesy. Despite my best efforts to pursued them, the client stood their ground and refused. So, once this tired, unfortunate candidate arrived at Leeds/Bradford airport, I had to call him and explain that the interview was cancelled. What made matters worse is that I also had the uncomfortable task of informing him that there would be no compensation for his time and expenses, and that there was no prospect of re-scheduling. His return flight was 8 hours later.”
“When I first began processing candidate registrations at the Job Centre Plus, I met one individual who had an alarming obsession with moths. His knowledge and expertise on the species was heavily featured throughout his CV. When asked about an award and guest slot that he had received on his local radio station, he went off on a 25-minute tangent about moths without blinking, all the while sporting a creepy side grin. He told us that it was his favourite species, and showed us photos of a collection of moths that he had gathered over a significant period of time. To be honest, the experience very much reminded me of Silence of the Lambs, and totally creeped me and my colleague out!”
Hired by the fired
“Upon arriving in Manchester from across the pond, I immediately set out on an earnest quest to find a job, any job, so long as it paid my bills. I went for an interview at a call centre/telemarketing firm where, after a brief series of questions, I was told I could begin work the following month. Admittedly, I needed to wee throughout the entire interview, so in my flustered state I didn’t give much thought to how the process had been all-too-easy. However, once I relieved myself, I began to clock on to the bizarre nature of the interview, and decided to request more information from the manager who had interviewed me. After being unable to reach him on his direct line and mobile for over a week, I was referred to a different manager who told me that he had no idea that I had been hired, and that the person who interviewed me had been let off. Presumably out of pity, he complimented my phone voice and advised me to visit him for an interview. The second time round, I got caught in a brutal rainstorm enroute to the interview, giving me the appearance of a drowned rat. This of course demolished my confidence completely, and the fact that I was being interviewed in a public space, where we were continuously interrupted by querying staff members, did little to help the situation. Unsurprisingly so, I was not a successful candidate that day.”
The clueless interviewer
“I had a telephone interview for a marketing job with an infrastructure solutions company, and I was nervous as the interview drew nearer. Despite using standard methods to research the company, I was still fairly unsure about exactly what service they provided. However, it turned out that the Manager interviewing me was even more nervous than I was. After the basic introductions and formalities were done and dusted, he admitted to me that he had no marketing knowledge whatsoever, and would be unable to tell if my answers were good or not. After a lengthy and awkward pause on both sides, he then told me that his friend worked in marketing for an Ad agency and asked if I was okay with him joining the call, because it would be the only way he could tell whether or not I was lying. Of all the possible ways I predicted the call could go, this one certainly threw me off my stride! It was a bizarre experience all round, as both the interviewer’s friend and I had limited knowledge of the service the company provided, while the interviewer had limited knowledge of marketing. After a few vague questions the call was promptly cut short as we all realised that it was going nowhere. The one positive that came out of this is that I am now prepared for anything to happen during a telephone interview!”
No questions asked
"I once sat in an interview where the hiring manager asked me my name and whether I found the office ok. They then proceeded to speak to me for almost the entire interview. I think I only said two sentences over the course of 40 minutes. Considering this was meant to be an interview and not a lecture, I didn't think much of the company and did not accept their next offer."
Boo! We want to recruit you!
While the world of recruitment may be a little bit spooktacular at times, it can also be, as demonstrated above, highly entertaining! The unpredictable yet exciting nature of the role ensures that you will always have a new experience every day, which makes for a highly interactive and upbeat career! If you have a passion for being an industry specialist who expertly guides candidates towards their dream job, whilst also ensuring that clients find the perfect fit for their organisation, then have a look at our available recruitment positions at Search. We won’t bite, promise!