How to completely bomb your job interview


It’s obviously unheard of for a hiring manager to find a candidate who looks perfect on paper and blindly hire him or her without even meeting (or speaking) to them. Thus, the job interview process is a bit of a necessary evil. While some job seekers have years of interviewing skills under their belt, of course there will always be those candidates who get extremely nervous and psych themselves out.

But every once in a while, there are those candidates that are completely clueless.

Pretty much everyone knows about interviewing no-no’s – you know, make sure you’re not late, don’t dress inappropriately, don’t disparage your previous employers…The list goes on. To seasoned job seekers who are serious about being the best candidate for the job, such interview tips are pretty obvious, almost to the point where it’s baffling to think that some job seekers would think such behavior is acceptable during a job interview. You’d be surprised.

Believe it or not, many job interviewees botch their chances at getting hired in some of the most hilariously creative ways. Check out some of these job interview mishaps posted by actual (but anonymous) hiring managers on Reddit:

When the candidate brings moral support

Sometimes a significant other can be a job seeker’s best cheerleader. But not quite in the experience Reddit user iJoshh had while they interviewed a fairly younger candidate for a job:

I had an applicant show up with his girlfriend, they sat and held hands waiting for him to be called in. When I went out to meet him, he asked if she could come [into the interview room] too. No. No she can’t.

When the candidate speaks the wrong language

Sometimes applicants fail to pay attention to crucial requirements in the job descriptions, as evidenced by this anecdote from Reddit user themcp:

I was hiring for a database programmer who would work closely with other programmers and the business people to design and implement software. I selected one particular application for an interview because she seemed to have a lot of experience and had a good cover letter. The applicant showed up and was able to speak only very rudimentary courtesy phrases in English, otherwise she spoke Chinese. She brought us a letter from her translator explaining that he had done her resume and cover letter for her, and that she comes with superb references from China. Nobody else in the organization spoke Chinese. The job description required “excellent communication skills.”

When the candidate does not research the company

The great thing about companies these days is that they all have websites that include at least some basic information about the business – but not in the alternate reality where Reddit user mrs-morris‘ interviewee was clearly from:

Last week we were interviewing a potential new hire who clearly had absolutely no idea what our company/the job was about. Like, hadn’t even googled us, had no idea what she wanted to do there, and told us that she wanted to go into our business because other things she looked at were “too hard to do, and too much energy” so this company seemed like a good fit. I told her I didn’t think she’d be a good fit for the position, and she tried to argue with me, saying that she didn’t know what the job was about but she was sure she could do it and that it wasn’t fair that we would turn her down when the position was open and we needed somebody, and she showed up for the interview, so she should have the job. Uh, no.

When the candidate has a fear of heights

This experience by Reddit user mrnetworkerror pretty much speaks for itself:

We had a phone interview with a guy whose first question was, “How tall is your building?” We told him it was 20 stories. He told us, “I can’t work in anything over 7.” Interview over. The other interviewer and I just sat there looking at each other like, “What just happened?”

When the candidate assumes they can learn to code on the job

Reddit user ZeroMercuri regularly interviews candidates for software engineer positions:

One guy came in and had things like “Java expert” and “Experience with C++” on his resume, but seemed to be dodging technical questions. When pressed on the subject, he admitted that he didn’t know how to code. A person who doesn’t know how to code applying for a software engineer position who blatantly lied on their resume to get an interview. To make matters worse, he later complained that we didn’t give him a fair chance during the interview.

And believe it or not, this sort of thing happens fairly regularly:

Another guy we had come in didn’t seem to know ANYTHING about testing software or software engineering. We asked him questions and he only ever responded with “I don’t know how to do that” or something similar. We asked him ultra basic intro to computer science questions like, “how do you test a string?” and he still failed miserably. Ultimately we decided to end this train-wreck of an interview and this guy looks at us all starry-eyed and says, “So when do you want me to start?” like he had nailed the interview.

When the candidate isn’t so bad after all

Since some of these interview stories could worry some hiring managers about the current job applicant pool, there will always be candidates who surprise and delight. Check out another interview from Reddit user mrnetworkerror that was a major win:

I interviewed a very green developer. He was sharp, but didn’t know any of the frameworks we used and couldn’t answer questions about MVC frameworks in general. He emailed the following Monday with code samples showing that he had learned and practiced the framework we use. He had clearly spent the entire weekend on it. He is one of the best hires I’ve ever made.

The bright side of all these job interview blunders is that the applicants were at least able to convince their potential employers to meet with them for an interview (thanks to a polished resume and/or satisfactory phone screen) – and hopefully they were able to learn from their mistakes. Unfortunately, being granted an interview did not happen for Vanessa Hojda, a York University student who accidentally applied to a job opening with a terrifying picture of Nicolas Cage attached to the email instead of her resume.

It’s no surprise that professionals that are tasked with interviewing responsibilities typically loathe the entire job interview process due to stories like those detailed above. No matter how good the candidates looks on paper – or sounds on the phone – there is always at least one that will throw you for a loop. For times when the interviewing process can go sideways, it’s a nice reminder that seasoned recruiting firms are able to take most of the candidate screening responsibilities off employers’ plates. That way, nobody is forced to deal with the wasted time (and potential drama) that the occasional job seeker causes.

Do you have any wild or interesting interview stories? Share them in the comments below!

Note: Cutting Edge Recruiting Solutions (CERS) is not the sole creator of the content above. All creator credit is given to the specific posters cited in the hyperlinks to their respective threads. Please keep in mind that internet forums provide users a great deal of anonymity and there is little to no verification of the authenticity of these stories. They should be taken with a grain of salt as their purpose serves to entertain only.

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