Horror Stories: Interviews Gone Gruesomely Wrong

Halloween is creepy-crawling steadily closer, and it seems like a fitting time to see what lessons can be learned from some of the horror stories we sometimes encounter in the staffing industry.

Clowning Around

It’s one thing to unwittingly sit through an interview with spinach in your teeth. It’s another thing entirely to show up for an interview in filthy clothing, or drunk and reeking of alcohol.

Unfortunately, once in a blue moon someone turns up at our office in just such an inappropriate condition. It’s scary, but true.

One woman even came to her interview in a clown costume!

Lesson: Remember that first impressions matter!

It’s great to be memorable, but you want to stand out in your interviewer’s memory for good reasons—not because you wore a red rubber nose that honks when you squeeze it.

About.com offers helpful photographic guides to appropriate interview attire for professional and non-professional positions.

Wacky Demands

A man came to his interview with a list of “stipulations” for any job he’d be willing to accept.

One of his written requirements said, “When searching, please ask the client what gender the supervisor is. I do not wish to have any further supervisors that are women.”

Lesson: Think hard about the up-front requirements you are giving to prospective employers.

Obviously, wildly inappropriate and politically incorrect demands will get you nowhere at lightning speed. But even seemingly tame requests might be undermining your job search.

If you’re really struggling to find work, assess your requirements and make sure that they’re truly reasonable. Ask yourself things like:

  • Are my wage requirements competitive?
  • Am I being realistic about the distance I’m willing to commute?
  • Am I asking for hours that are too limited?

Rip Van Winkle

One man fell asleep while filling out his application paperwork and snored loudly.

Lesson: It’s important that you are well-rested before your interview.

You want to be at your best. The better you feel, the better you’ll perform.

The Uninvited Guest

A girl brought her boyfriend along with her to her interview, and left him to lounge in the lobby with his feet up on a chair.

Lesson: Always come to your interview alone.

This faux pas seems to occur with more frequency than any of the others listed in this article.

Bringing somebody with you to your interview is quite unprofessional, and can give the impression that you are not capable of handling things on your own. What’s more, it’s distracting and outright annoying for staff to have a stranger hanging around the office.

If you need a ride to and from your interview, make sure that the person assisting you remains in their car or finds other ways to stay occupied off-site.

Pip, Pip, Cheerio!

A woman talked in what was very clearly a fake British accent throughout her entire interview.

Lesson: Be yourself!

During an interview, it is important to be both professional and earnest. An interviewer is assessing not only your skills, but also your personality and demeanor.

Pretending to be someone you’re not is a sure-fire way to embarrass yourself and blow an interview. Conversely, convey a sense of self-confidence and comfort within your own skin, and you’re sure to leave a positive impression.

Jeepers Creepers

I’ve saved the best (by which I mean the absolute worst) for last.

A man who arrived well before his scheduled interview time raided the office kitchen and then asked to use the microwave to pop some popcorn that he had found. He also asked if he could “play” on one of the company computers. Oh, and he hit on the receptionist several times.

For his grand finale, he bragged during his interview about having an affair with his previous boss!

Lesson: Don’t do this.  Any of this. Seriously.

Really, what else can be said about this?  Everything this man did was so obviously a horrifyingly bad idea that it almost made our staff wonder if we were being pranked by a hidden camera show.

Unfortunately, no, he was all too real.  And if that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.

The Wrap

Please keep in mind that these are, of course, all extreme examples. They’re memorable precisely because they’re so rare.  The vast majority of the job seekers who walk through our doors are well put together, professional, polite people that we are very proud to represent.

However, sometimes a cautionary tale is more valuable than a good role model  Occasionally, the Goofuses of the world can teach us a lot more than the Gallants.

Happy Halloween, and good luck from West Sound Workforce!

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