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
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