Say What? Shocking Interview Stories

We've all had that perfect job interview at least once in our lives, when everything clicks. It's that moment when both interviewer and interviewee realize that each has found exactly what the other is looking for, a moment of happy bliss.

But then there are the other times, those moments when a job interview goes horribly wrong. Perhaps not so funny as it is actually happening, but afterward you can't help but laugh at how strange, bizarre, downright weird the experience was. We asked both recruiters and job applicants to recount the oddest things said in a job interview; and you won't believe some of the things we heard.

Job Hunting While Under the Influence

My first job out of college was working for a big box retailer in their management-training program. Throughout my time there, I interviewed over 1,000 candidates from all walks of life. Far and away the one that I remember the most was with a young male applying for an overnight position.

The least of his problems was that he showed up to the interview 15 minutes late, wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. It went downhill from there.

After a few minutes of questioning, he turned the tables on me and asked, "Why do I have to answer these stupid questions anyway?"

Then followed up immediately with, "You know what, I'm drunk. Can't you just give me the job now so I can leave?"

As I began to list the already large amount of reasons why he couldn't work for us, he pulled a beer out of his pocket to sip on while he was listening.

As any good young professional would do, I asked two of my peers to join me, to continue the interview as if he was a promising candidate, since there was no way they would have believed my story if I hadn't proved it to them.

By Joe Arends

Crazy Child-Care Interviews

While working as the director of a child-care and preschool facility, I often interviewed many people for positions like preschool teacher or school-bus driver. Surprisingly, many of the applicants were rejected, because in a nutshell, there was no way that I was going to let them within ten feet of a kid, let alone trust them in a room alone with a while classroom full of them. These are some of the crazy things I have heard over the years from those that thought they would make perfect preschool teachers:

Question: How long have you worked in the child development field?

Answer: "Well, I was a kid for like 12 years or so but I grew up fast so maybe 10 years of experience being a child."

Answer: "I was a teacher for about five years before I went to jail for killing my boyfriend, cause he slept with this girl, so now I am trying to get back into teaching."

Question: Do you have a criminal record that may prevent you from working with kids?

Answer: "I have a criminal record but there were not kids involved, so yeah, I can work with kids."

Answer: "I was busted a while ago for DUI, but now I am real careful when I drive drunk."

Answer: "What exactly do you mean by criminal?"

Question: What makes you want to work with children (asked to a male teaching candidate)?

Answer: "Well, honestly, I have heard that you can meet a lot of single moms in this profession."

Question: You said that you were terminated from the last school you worked at, what was the reason?

Answer: "Well, they said I hit this kid. But I didn't, I just pushed him a little, so they fired me."

Answer: "There was this one kid that I hated and I kinda got pissed off and smacked him – but I am sure I will like all the kids here and that would never happen."

Question: What qualities do you have that would make you work well with young children?

Answer: "Well, I am really immature so I can relate to them and I also like to play with toys and video games. I think that they would like that."

Question: Is there anything else you would like to tell me about yourself?

Answer: "Well, I want to make at least $40,000 a year." (This person had no experience, had just graduated from high school and showed up in sweats and a t-shirt that said "Bite me.")

Answer: "Yes, I wanted to know if you wanted to have dinner with me later and maybe a drink. I think you're really pretty."

Answer: "Yes, I was wondering how long I have until I have to take a drug test. I am going to need a few days at least."

Answer: "I was wondering what the policy was on drinking on your lunch break." (The person was interviewing to be a bus driver.)

Answer: "Do I really have to teach them stuff or can I just babysit them?"

Answer: "If you hire me today can you give me an advance on my first paycheck? I've got a lot of bills to pay."

Needless to say once I got these answers, the interview was over.

By Richel Newborg

You Have 60 Seconds, GO!

About a year back, I was being interviewed for a position at an advertising agency. My interviewer was laid back and inquisitive, asking questions like, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" and "Why do you want to work here?" Seemingly typical interview questions.

I was completely thrown off when he suddenly plopped a pad of paper down in front of me and said, "Okay, now you have 60 seconds to draw a picture of a turtle!"

I just stared at him, open-mouthed, until he started counting down. I scrambled for a pen, and drew the best dang turtle I could conjure up. I guess my turtle was pretty good, because I got the job!

By Samantha Carow

Crazy Interview Answers and Questions

The most interesting part of working in the personnel department of a large company was being privy to some of the resume reviewing and interviewing sessions. Quite often, it was the interviewers, not the jobless hopeful, who found themselves stumped for words when going through the hiring process; here are a few of the oddest:

  • When reviewing one application, the personnel manager was glancing over the candidate's previous employment to check for relevant experience for assembly line work. The interviewer was intrigued when the applicant had previous experience working on the assembly line at Frito Lay. However, interest soon waned when the space under "last position held" read "potato chip."
  • A woman owning her own mystery shopping company was meeting a new shopper at a nearby coffee shop to give her the scoop on what was expected when performing a mystery shop. She approached the new candidate outside, quickly shook her hand, and took a seat to get down to business. The owner rattled on and on about what she expected and what constituted an acceptable shop, while the candidate sat in silence never opening her mouth. Finally, the owner said, "You know, I'm not so sure this is the job for you; if you were to take this position, you'd really have to sink your teeth into it." Looking quite disappointed, the new candidate parted her lips as a huge sigh escaped her toothless mouth, and said, "Darn it! So, I'll need teeth to do this job?"
  • A writer was interviewing a young executive who hoped to appear on the cover of a local trade magazine. He was very professional and polished, seeming to know exactly what to say to every question. When asked how many hours a week the young executive worked, he admitted to being the most dedicated one in the firm, averaging approximately 120 to 130 hours a week. Later on in the interview when asked what was most important to the young executive, he responded, "Oh, definitely my family!"

By Debi Siegel

Honesty Is the Best Policy

My friend was being interviewed for a retail position at Kohl's. The final interview process included all of the potential applicants to have a group interview. They were asked a series of questions as the human resources supervisor went around the room from person to person. When they got to my friend they asked her what she would do if she were to catch one of her friends stealing merchandise from the store.

Her response was, "Well, that depends."

The supervisor replied, "Depends on what?"

She said, "Well, if the person was poor and was stealing food or something they needed for their children, then no, I would have to say I would not rat them out."

The employer was so appalled he pulled her from the group, taking her into the hallway and privately asking her why she had responded the way she did. Her response? "I am an honest person at heart, you asked me and I gave you my honest answer. I would not turn someone in that was truly desperate to feed his children or clothe his children, but if it were some punk off of the streets, then yes, I would radio security immediately."

The supervisor looked seriously puzzled, not knowing what to think of her answer, then shook her hand, and thanked her for her time.

She thought she really blew that interview until the next day, when she got a call telling her she had been hired. The supervisor explained he had thought over what she had said and anyone that was brave enough to give a bold statement like that must truly be honest and loyal!

By Amanda

What Would Your Perfect Job Be?

I once got asked "What would your perfect job be?"

I had gotten so comfortable with the interviewers (which is unlike me), that I just answered without thinking my answer through.

I said "My perfect job would consist of me lying on a beach, drinking a beer."

There was a panel of people interviewing me. As soon as I finished the sentence, I realized what I had done. The room was quiet for about two seconds. Then an explosion of laughter followed by a job offer.

Sometimes it really does pay to be completely honest. The best part is that I absolutely love the job and I wouldn't give up this great group of people for anything.

By Rebecca Pointe

You're Here for What Position?

I manage a team of technical agents for an online company. Agents are expected to understand websites, online marketing and how the Internet works. Part of my position requires me to interview potential employees. As with any interview, some of the candidates get nervous and say some, well, unusual things. Here are a few of the statements I've heard over the years:

  • When asked how well a candidate knew web architecture, he said, "I used the Internet once. That's where that e-mail thing is, right?"
  • A 30-year-old male, when asked about a site he built, said, "It was awesome! It was pink and black and had My Little Pony and Care Bears everywhere. I love the Care Bears."
  • When asked about e-mail clients (e.g., Outlook, Mac Mail,) a job seeker said, "Oh, I use MySpace for all my e-mail. If I don't get it there, it's not important."
  • Responding to a question about online marketing, one candidate responded, "I don't know, I'd Google it, I guess."
  • Upon going over the job duties, the interviewee mumbled, "Um, I think I'm in the wrong place. I came in to interview for the janitorial position."
  • Regarding his knowledge of computer maintenance, one guy said, "I call Tech Support, what else would I do? Wait, what position is this again?"

By Mark Miller

I Think You Sunk My Battleship

Coming from a small town, I was amazed, excited and nervous that I was chosen to be interviewed for a teaching position at a liberal arts preparatory school in Phoenix. The curriculum involved more than I was familiar with, but I am a Special Education teacher and I felt confident that my skills would umbrella my lack of knowledge about Latin. The interview was going quite well. I felt as if I had answered the questions with a good level of intelligence.

The headmaster finally mentioned that one of the subjects at the school was Chess. I smiled and commented that I loved to play Chess. He was happily amused at my answer and proceeded to ask me if I knew what E3 meant. Now I do love to play Chess, for recreational purposes. But I had no clue as to what he was talking about, but I had to come up with an answer.

So after a brief pause, and a few heavy thumps of my heartbeat, I replied, "I think you sunk my battleship." He laughed and I was hired.

By S.R. Gates

Be Prepared

I went into my first interview three years ago at the young age of sixteen. It was for a little barbeque joint that was in my town. I stressed all day about the interview: what to wear, what to say, what not to say and even what cologne to wear. When the time finally came I nailed the interview, and I thought it was going great, until the interviewer asked, "Do you have any more gum?"

That's when I realized I was chewing vigorously on a piece of gum, and unfortunately, I had no other gum with me.

I didn't get the job, and to this day I think, "What if I would have had an extra piece of gum?"

By Zachary Rowell

Next: 43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews >>

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I was in the Navy reserves and was going to be called to active duty in one year. I was looking for work for that year. I started applying for jobs and at each place I was given a timed 100 question test. Each place had the same test. Obvoiusly some company had sold each company the same test. Each time my score got better and better. After I took the test at one bank, I was immediately called in to the HR directors office. He said, "about the test." I interupted him and said, "I am sorry, the correct answer to number 99 is C not D and that I did not answer number 100 but the answer is B." He said not to worry, the test had been given to all the employees and the board of directors and the best score was by one of the board members. He had finished 60 questions and got 50 correct. I had finished 99 and had gotten 98 correct.

Because I had a military obligation he could not hire me but to come back after I got off active duty and drop my seabag in his office and go to work. Two weeks after getting back from Viet Nam I went back to the bank and a clerk insisted I had to take the test because my results were over a year old. I refused and told her to ask Mr. Burns if he wanted to see me. He can running out of his office with an offer in hand.

May 23 2010 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J Lea

Has anyone else ever applied and been interviewed for that magazine merchandising position where you get paid training at a Walmart or another dept. store with a bunch of other people for two weeks. You ask them point blank if you are hired for the position and they say, "Of course we need merchandisers for all the local stores". Then you find out at the end of the two weeks you were never hired at all because out of the 10-15 people that trained with you they only needed one merchandiser for the that particular store. "Hey we paid you so what's the beef?"

May 23 2010 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

These people that try to correct your spelling or any other error there may be, must be unemployed, failed or wannabe teachers, that don't really understand the fact that we don't give a rat's patooie, if you find a mistake in our writing. They usually are so wrapped up in pointing out other's mistakes that they miss the whole point of what was being said.If you want to teach,,keep it in the classroom. If you want to be mean,, keep it to yourself. you are just showing your own ignorance to the fact that most people don't care what you say.

May 23 2010 at 12:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Don's comment

Has it occurred to you that there might be some constructive criticism involved? The position for which I interview people is highly technical and requires precise and accurate written communication. The quickest way to bust you chances for an interview is to have misspellings and incorrect word usage in your resume. Use the wrong their/there/they're, your/you're, to/too/two or any number of other common errors puts your resume on the unqualified pile. I have been told by some who can't seem to get these things right that it is not important. They are wrong. Correct spelling and word usage are extremely important.

May 23 2010 at 1:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

With most every company today only taking applications online, it's almost impossible for someone to be able to sell themself, as is possible with an actual interview. When one thing on a resume,seems out of place, or even a little questionable, then they just go on to the next without even giving the applicant a chance to explain, or correct the possible mistake that they may not even realize that they made.

May 23 2010 at 11:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Finely tuned and polished

Love the critical mass rersponses. 50% of you must live for your jobs the other 50 have no life. Remember.. its all about the MONEY!! The phony promises and pats on the back is good for corporate America only. Wise up tell them what they want to hear, and remember... YES you are replaceable.

May 23 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

When I was still working for my parents trucking company, a man came into our office looking for a job as a truck driver. He was filling out the job application, when my mother and I noticed a look of total confusion on his face. He looked over at us and asked seriously "What be martial status?"

May 23 2010 at 9:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I heard about a job at the hospital as a circumciser. Pays ten skins a day and a chance to get ahead.

May 23 2010 at 9:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was once interviewed 7 times by one employer and still never got the job. I still wonder why all the call backs...

May 23 2010 at 9:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My whole working career has been a nightmare. I am 64 years old - worked for 40 years - never for anyone that paid any "real" money. I was left with 2 small babies by a husband who didn't want his wife to work - so the only skills I had were office-type. Through a friend I got a job in an office - worked there for 16 years but was the boss's punching bag. She was female (so no harassment charges allowed)and I'm pretty easy going so it's easy to take advantage of me. I ate it for all those years because I wanted to be on top of my kids at home and unlike other jobs, they did allow us some time to do personal things if need be. No raises for anyone for 10 years. Take it or leave it. Subsequent jobs have been worse. One employer/owner came from Europe and they don't shower much. She sat right next to me and I couldn't breathe from the stench. Then on to another job with a female boss who took a dislike to me and wrote me up because I paper-clipped a group of papers instead of stapling them (she never instructed me which way she wanted it). I worked for a week with full blown pneumonia because I knew she was trying to fire me - yet I did my job exactly as needed (Accounts Receivable). On to another job that I worked for 8 years. Didn't find out til I was hired that it was all family (sisters, wives, etc). They did exactly as they pleased and I couldn't get my job done because boss's wife was over me and I was constantly fixing her mistakes (but couldn't tell boss - right?)and had no one to vent to about doing my job and hers too. For those 8 years, never got a raise either because of economy (always wondered how many raises the family was getting). But I was in my 50's and bad economy- so eventually they laid me off and now I'm too young to retire - no pension plans of any kind - some crippling in my legs and back (from years of hard work not explained here)- so I wonder who will hire me? No one - that's who. I guess I'll be the one getting Obama's pill to make me comfortable on my way out.

May 23 2010 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to KATHY's comment
J Lea

I hear you exactly what you are saying plus I get to watch my daughter, the professional, piss her good luck away and that makes me madder than hell.

May 23 2010 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was once interviewed with these questions: Do you like sunny days or rainy days? Do you like lying on the beach or shopping? Do you like sitting by the fire on a cold winter night? Would you choose a solid colored shirt or a patterned shirt? After a few minutes, I asked, "Am I being interviewed for a job or are we creating my profile for" My interviewer sat straight up and had a look on her face like she smelled someone passing gas. Thankfully, I didn't get the job. The place must be run like a kindergarden class.

May 23 2010 at 7:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frankie's comment

Frankie - hilarious!! Just read your post to my your response!!

May 23 2010 at 7:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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