terrible interview experiences

7 stories of terrible interview experiences from real life job seekers

In the past, we’ve touched on some major red flags that job seekers tend to encounter (and unfortunately sometimes ignore) during their job search. One of these red flags is a helplessly broken hiring process, usually evidenced by a rather frustrating interview.

Sometimes it’s not the interviewer’s fault. For instance, they may be an HR admin who has been tasked with interviewing candidates for an extremely technical role they may not fully comprehend, and end up asking seemingly irrelevant questions, or not being sure if the question was even answered correctly or not.

But other times, the interviewers can just be huge jerks. Maybe they hate their jobs (or their lives), or maybe they were just having a bad day. Whatever their excuse, they make for some terrible interview experiences.

One user on Reddit posted this recent encounter they had during an interview they had been looking forward to all week:

My interviewer would constantly throw shade at me and belittle my resume. When I asked about their company culture he told me their culture was only about “winning” and that they didn’t want any “losers”. I then asked another serious question before he cut me off saying, “Jesus, how many questions do you have?” It was utterly repulsive.

Luckily, the user maintained their composure and didn’t let their interviewer get under their skin, and better yet, decided to not bother with the company any further.

In reply to the original post, other users shared unfortunate similar experiences. User Kuj_McDuck described an odd interview they had with a woman who did all of the following:

Refused to shake hands. She “doesn’t do that.”

Told me that she usually gives tours of the building to interviewees, but not for me.

Insulted the colleges where I got my undergrad and graduate degrees, because they were in a different state and she didn’t like that.

Told me that a major national product I had worked on was useless and unimportant.

Got up in the middle of the interview to talk to three different people, including the A/C repairman 4 times.

Bragged about being offered a fellowship from one of my former employers and said she refused it because she wouldn’t take money from “those people.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this one interviewer followed up with the job candidate to emphatically say that they would definitely not be getting a follow up interview…even after she had been looking for someone to fill the role for 6 months and still couldn’t find a job candidate up to her “standards.”

Jessdb19 detailed a short but bizarre experience interviewing with the president of a company.

President accused me of plagiarizing/stealing my portfolio. (100% NOT true.) Then, they told the headhunter that I was too young to have the experience I said I had. (IE, they thought I was fresh out of college instead of being a 36-year-old woman…) President gave me 2 minutes of his time before cutting me off mid-sentence and walking out the door.

The bright side for the job seeker in this case was that it was at least good interview practice.

When _SPACE_WITCH_ described their phone interview for an entry level IT help desk position, it was pretty apparent that the interviewer may have some screws loose based on his reaction to their hopeful plans for the next 10-15 years of their career.

I told him I had a lot of learning to do but eventually I’d like to become a sysadmin or something in DevOps. He absolutely exploded. He ranted and yelled for about ten minutes straight about how the help desk is a lifestyle and ‘not just some stepping stone where you can work five or ten years and then move on to the next level’. He talked about millennials always wanting more than they’re worth, said the people in his startup are lucky to have a job at all, and told me everyone he interviews actually wants a different position than the one being offered and that it’s not fair.

Apparently this interviewer doesn’t believe in career progression, and resents that millennials tends to job hop as a means to accomplish it. Another user replied that perhaps he was just jealous that others have moved up while he had gotten stuck in his help desk role.

Of course, the rudeness of an interviewer can range from being condescending and hostile to just flat out rude and impolite, like in user brownie___xx’s interview.

One time I went to an interview for an office administrator position. Everything was great and I was very sure that they were impressed with me. Then one of them asked me: “are you planning to lose some weight?”

I told her that me being fat or skinny didn’t have anything to do with my work quality. Needless to say I was very offended.


via GIPHY

OK – that’s enough negativity for this post…mostly.

The next two user responses aren’t fully devoid of interviewers behaving badly, but they do end on a somewhat lighter note. Like how sometimes, directly confronting your interviewer on their behavior can be fairly enlightening, as evidenced by user Tall_Mickey’s experience:

One of the interviewers was negative and strange about everything. At the end, knowing I wasn’t getting anything from her, she asked if I had any questions and I asked, with nothing to lose, “are you this negative in every interview?”

And by God, she relaxed and confessed that the interview was for a job that she had wanted but had been denied. We actually relaxed and talked nicely for a few minutes.

And to conclude the post, here’s the only negative interview experience that actually ended with a job offer that user scrambledeggs858 accepted:

One of my interviewers said something extremely rude. The position is customer service, not brain surgery, and I took great offense to her statement.

I dropped my interview facade/attitude and told both interviewers what I can offer the company. I was consistently top in sales as well as in customer service surveys at my previous job and ranked in the top 10% of my position at a massive company. I was frank, but respectful in letting them know that I am damn good at my job but refused to be pushed around.

I walked out in to the car where my husband was waiting and told him how bad the interview went. Before I could make it out of the parking lot, they called and offered me the job. The interviewer who questioned my capability is my current boss.

It’s an unfortunate truth that there are some HR professionals (and others tasked with interviewing) that are simply not well-suited for properly assessing candidates. That’s the nice thing about working with staffing and recruiting companies; the recruiters who work with job seekers have years of experience and genuinely enjoy working with candidates, even during pre-screening conversations and face-to-face interviews. And quality recruiters will only work with quality clients, so if you’re sent to a face-to-face interview with your potential future employer, you can be assured that they won’t be like one of the interviewers in the stories above.

Have you ever had a dismal interview experience? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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