Job Interview Horror Stories: Reader Email

Last week I posted Job Interview Horror Stories: AT&T Ret(hell), a brief look at one of the most uncomfortable job interviews of my life.

In response, I received some fantastic reader email. People sharing stories, feedback, and ideas.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Andy in California shares an enlightening trick from the interviewer’s perspective:


One time I moved my secretary to my desk and when the interviewee walked in I greeted him and told him to have a seat. He proceeded to ask me all about the joint, how the pay was, benefits and all that stuff you don’t ask. Then he mentioned that he’d tried sales once and really sucked and hated it but was desperate for a 3 month gig or so.

Then the phone rang and I answered it, “Andy, can I help you?” I’m not kidding, his skin tone changed like four different shades and ended in a ‘I’m gonna puke white’ look.

I stood up, shook his hand and opened the door and said, ‘Best of luck on your job hunt!’

Thanks, Andy! I’ve heard of scenarios like this, but I never knew anyone to actually try it. Kudos.

Here’s a hectic tale from Bethany in New York: 


I was a junior in college and had an early morning interview for an
internship at a local newspaper.

It was a snowy day and I mistakenly used the wrong exit on the way
there. Since this was before the age of the smart phone and GPS, I
nervously ended up parking in the slush and used a pay phone to call
my mom. No answer. So I got back in the car and continued my frantic
tour of downtown. Somehow I stumbled upon two middle-aged men having
coffee in a deli. They pointed me to my destination, which was
thankfully only 3 blocks away. My heart was racing as I parked at the
nearby garage.

I ripped off my dress shoes and started to run full speed down the
sidewalk in my stocking’d feet. I arrived to the interview about 15
minutes late.

The interviewer was thankfully an incredibly laid back dude, and I
ended up getting the internship. All’s well that ends well, I suppose!

Thanks, Bethany! What a crazy start. Glad it all worked out.

Wrong-exit horror stories might become its own blog genre. I had one the other week where I took the exit and had to pay a toll to get on to the Interstate. I pulled a u-turn and had to pay full price when I returned (since you’re not suppose to u-turn). I didn’t have cash and had to pay an extra $2 to pay later with a credit card. $17 later I was an hour late to my destination.

Jacob in Montana shares a scary Skype scenario:


I was applying for a job on the other side of the US, so they asked to do a interview over Skype. Always awkward. Especially when the sound doesn’t work on either end.

We called each other while maintaining the Skype feed. The whole time I was thinking, Wow, this looks like a prison visitation.

I couldn’t concentrate and I felt like I was blowing it, so I finally made a joke about how this interview felt like a prison visitation. The joke wasn’t met with laughter. But an awkward smile. I then had to clarify that I had never been to prison, which, as an interviewee, is a place you never want to be in.

Jacob! That sounds terrible. And I agree: prison jokes are rarely the place for a job interview. Kudos for having the confidence.

Sarah in California explains why mom’s should stay out of the interview


I was managing a retail shop in California. Every position was entry level, so I mostly hired high schoolers. One applicant came in with his mom. She asked for the application and job details, the boy stood off to the side and was careless about the whole thing.

For reasons I can’t recall I granted him an interview and the mom showed up and sat right in the room. Every question I asked she either answered for him or interjected, interrupted.

Poor kid, he was so embarrassed!

I asked the boy if minimum wage was okay and the mom, again, interrupted and said, “Oh no. My son requires $9/hour.” I nodded my head and the boy broke the awkward silence by yelling, “Mom, GET OUT.”

“Don’t talk to me like that!”


Another two or three minutes of this back and forth before the duo left, arguing out the door. He didn’t get the job.

Any other job interview horror stories out there? Send them my way and I’ll post them. Comment or tweet me @kevindanielblog.


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