It’s always somewhat nerve-wracking to go through an interview. It’s easy to become self-conscious and jumpy, and the possibility of making some sort of search-ending social faux pas can feel acute.
Thankfully, most of the time nothing goes terribly wrong. There might be some slightly awkward situations, but nothing out of the ordinary. But before the interview, it can be hard to convince yourself to calm down and realize that you’ll be able to handle the interview just fine, and that nothing THAT bad can happen.
Except that, sometimes, horrible stuff really does happen.
For fun, we asked some of our Resume Genius readers to share with us their worst interview stories. We wanted to know just how bad things could get in the interview office. The verdict? We have a disturbing amount of customers with tremendously bad luck. Thankfully, they also have a great sense of humor about it.
Here are their stories.
1. My one night stand interviewed me, by Daniel H.
It was about 5 years ago (but the memory is extremely strong, for obvious reasons.) I’d been hit hard by the recession, losing my job as a journalist, and was struggling to pay the bills.
With the assistance of a friend, he identified several companies for me to target. I sent in my resumes, and got a response from only one – a moderately sized PR firm promising decent wages. I was excited, because it was right up my alley, and meant that I wouldn’t have to move and leave behind my friends.
That Friday, my friend was having a birthday bash at our favorite local bar. Having booked the interview for the following week, I was feeling pretty good, happy to be back on track to finding a job and lifting myself out of the hole I was in. The party was fun, and the booze was flowing. Feeling good-natured, I struck up a conversation with seemingly everyone that night, including a beautiful brunette. She was really cute and funny, so one thing after the next happened, and pretty soon she was back at my place.
To keep things PG, let’s just say that things didn’t go, uh, smoothly. Saturday morning came quickly, and we parted in a bumbling manner, making embarrassed apologies and infrequent, terribly awkward eye contact. No words were spoken about meeting again – just reliving the awkwardness makes me cringe.
But what happened next was psychologically scarring.
I walked into the PR firm’s office on Tuesday, feeling the interview jitters. So when I saw her walk out of the office to come and greet me for the interview – I felt my stomach clench up and immediately felt nauseous. She froze with a wide-eyed stare, and then covered her face with her hands. I could see her mouthing “Oh my God…” Her boss came to greet me, and we all went into the office together.
Neither of us said a word about having met before. The interview was excruciating – she wouldn’t look me in the eye or say much. She just stared at my resume. Her boss even commented on her unusual silence. She just said that she wasn’t feeling well.
Needless to say, I did not get the job.
2. I deeply insulted the interviewer, by Paula M.
Not too long ago, I walked into an interview feeling completely prepared and absolutely ready to knock it out of the park. I strolled into the office confidently, feeling affable and calm. Before sitting down, I took the liberty of inspecting some of the items on the hiring manager’s desk.
Since it was highly decorated, I figured he wanted his items to be noticed. That was when I saw a picture of a lovely looking woman. She looked full of joy, and very classically pretty. But she looked older.
I said, “Is this your mom? She looks very pretty.”
He said, “No, that’s my wife.”
I did not get the job.
3. I made an insensitive joke, by James W.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I do stuff like this all the time. I think I must love to sabotage myself, or something.
Here’s what happened.
I had just walked into the establishment where I’d be interviewed. It was a small design company, having no more than 15 people. The boss had not come in yet, so I was waiting. However, everyone else was in the office that day, and it was one of those companies where everyone seems down to earth, very friendly and willing to make small talk and ask questions. That day, I had brought in a small gift bag, because I had to buy a present for my friend’s 6 year-old son.
Most of the workers in the office were women, so that went over very well when they asked me what the gift bag was for. I was getting an enormous amount of positive attention, so I was quite happy with the way things were going.
They complimented my thoughtfulness for having purchased a gift, and then one of them said, “Well, it’s good to have the heart of a child.”
“Unless it’s in a glass jar on your desk!” I joked.
Everyone had been listening in. There was complete silence, followed by death glares from nearly everyone in the room. If anyone thought it was funny, no one was going to admit it.
People began to shuffle around and get back to their business. The secretary tried to continue with the conversation, but the mood was completely ruined, so she eventually gave up and returned to her workspace.
Finally, when the boss came in, I think she noticed that the normally cheerful office had become rather morose. When I left, no one looked up to say bye. I was not hired.
4. My lack of coordination sabotaged me, by Sandra K.
I’m a huge clutz, which has been problematic my entire life.
Three years ago, I had an interview at a software company. Everything was going really well – the boss and I had good chemistry, and she seemed to be impressed with my resume and my experience. She’d offered me a cup of coffee before the interview started, which I’d mindlessly accepted. I’d barely taken a few sips of it, before she invited me to come to her side of the desk and watch her demonstrate the software. That felt like a great sign!
That was until I dumped my entire cup of coffee into her laptop’s keyboard. Everything faded and went to black.
Just like my job prospects at that company.
5. I soiled myself, by Brandon P.
This is the first time I’m telling this story, and only because I can remain anonymous. After it happened, I took a vow of silence to tell nobody – even my best friends.
This was a couple years ago. One of my best friends was leaving for grad school out west, so we had a going away party for him. Unfortunately, as it turned out, we could only thro the party on Wednesday. We prepared ourselves for a night of debauchery, and steeled ourselves, knowing that work would be rough the next day.
Well, I didn’t have work yet. I had an interview.
I entered the office of a fairly well-known magazine (I won’t say which for fear that someone will find out who I am…) I’m confident that my breath still smelled like a mixture of tequila, gin, and beer. The night had been massive, and I was hungover to all hell. I had to put in eye drops to get rid of my eye redness, and even though I’m a guy, I had more than a few thoughts about putting makeup on the dark bags in my eye sockets.
I’d also taken a couple Tums, because my stomach was doing loops, cramps, and all sorts of other crazy things. The day before I hadn’t exactly been feeling in tip-top shape – I thought that my stomach issues were related to the booze I’d consumed the night before.
I was wrong.
I was invited into the hiring manager’s office after about ten agonizing minutes of trying not to fall asleep on the comfortable couch outside his office. When he came, I immediately stood up – and then it started to happen.
By “it,” I mean that low-pitched gurgling sounds began to emanate from the deep pits of my stomach. Something foul was brewing in the horrible abyss of my gut, and it was not going to be pleasant. In my hungover state, I began to panic. I didn’t want to ask to go to the restroom, since I’d had time to do it before he arrived. Stupidly, I chose to enter his small, cramped, not particularly well-ventilated office…
I sat down, and we had a little bit of small talk before he started asking more relevant questions about my experience. The evil, sulfuric symphony in my stomach twisted and toiled and boiled the entire time. It was unbearable. Pressure began to build. I had to hold it in.
And then I had a genius plan: I’d let it out really slowly, bit by bit, one small release at a time. Maybe he wouldn’t notice it from across his desk.
Unfortunately, what I thought was gas was in fact diarrhea straight from the pits of hell, and there was no controlling its release. There was a loud gurgling sound. I sat still, mortified, not knowing what to do. The boss, who had been explaining the company’s atmosphere, stopped suddenly – his eyes became wide, and he frowned at me.
He muttered, “Did you just…” and then he started to gag. The smell was horrendous, as though something had been decomposing for days in a moist cellar. It even made me feel woozy.
Without speaking, I stood up and left the office, holding my pants close to me to prevent leakage. After returning home, I blocked all methods of communication with everyone I’d been speaking to at that office.
6. XYZ!, by Ted F.
Part of the interview process for one major financial corporation, which I won’t name, is to give an impromptu presentation in front of a committee on some very specific, very dry topic, in order to test the depth and breadth of your knowledge. You’re given 10 minutes to prepare.
Fortunately, they’d chosen a topic that I was actually quite familiar with. I spent the 10 minutes organizing my thoughts, and then blasted into the conference room with supreme confidence. I delivered a hell of a presentation.
At the end, there was some applause, and then an awkward silence. I wondered what the problem was. Then, one of the committee members said, to great uproar:
“That sounded great and all, but I’m not sure any of us were listening, because your fly is undone.”
I looked down to see that my zipper was completely undone, and that the giant gaping hole in my black pants was exposing a large red blob of underwear. My face then turned several shades of red. Fortunately, they did give me the job!
7. An excellent first impression, by Tom J.
I was driving to my interview, when I saw a massive spider crawling around my feet near the gas pedals. Horrified, I went to stomp on it, and wasn’t paying attention to the road. I ended up rear-ending the guy in front of me. He seemed calm, but peeved about the situation. I was deeply embarrassed. We exchanged insurance, and went on our way.
Well, actually, I ended up following him the whole way, (which I’m sure was nerve wracking for him,) and even parked behind him.
“You work here?” he asked.
“No, I’m here for an interview,” I replied.
“Well, you already know my name,” he said. “And I’m going to interview you.”
“Really?” I asked.
“No, go home.” Ouch.
8. I turned in the wrong writing sample, by Erika S.
I was just out of college and hoping to get a job as a journalist at a local newspaper. I did some meticulous research, and prepared all of the documentation I thought I would need to ace the interview. They needed a writing sample, so I printed out what I considered to be my best work as an intern at a small magazine in New York.
Somehow, during my preparation, I replaced that magazine article with a draft of an erotica short story I was writing.
At the end of the interview, which went very well, the interviewer asked me to turn in any materials or documents for them to look over. I handed them my folder, without checking the contents…
Four days later I received an e-mail informing me that I’d been hired. They wrote to me:
“Based on the strength of your short story “Esmeralda’s Flame,” almost everyone we showed it to has recommended hiring you. Welcome aboard! ;)”
I nearly didn’t accept the job out of sheer embarrassment!
We thought these were hilarious, so we’ll try to do another series of these! Thanks to all the contributors that pitched in. We love the Resume Genius crowd!