News & Politics

“Her Shoe Flew Off”

Some job candidates are memorable. Here are tales of interviews gone awry—from a woman who painted her face to a smoker who started a fire.

Some job candidates leave a lasting impression—not always good. We asked local employers to tell us about the funniest or biggest mistakes they’ve seen in job interviews.

Could You Hold?

• “A gentleman took a cell-phone call in the middle of an interview and made plans to go out and get drunk that night.”

• “While I was interviewing someone, she kept checking her text messages.”

• “A coworker was interviewing a candidate who received a cell-phone call. The candidate not only answered the call but wanted the interviewer to step out of the office so that the person could speak in private.”

• “While I was doing a phone interview, a candidate told me to wait so he could order fast food at a drive-through.”

• “An applicant interrupted the interview to call her therapist for advice on how to answer questions.”

First Impressions

• “A graphic designer arrived for her interview with one half of her face painted white and the other half painted black. After seeing everyone else in business suits, she gathered her portfolio and announced, ‘This place is not for me.’ ”

• “A guy showed up for an interview in a muscle shirt, jean shorts, and a ball cap. He said, ‘This is me. Take it or leave it.’ ”

• “An intern ordered a $100 lobster when he was taken to lunch.”

• “A friend who was interviewing at the University of Maryland asked the interviewer: ‘What’s with all the turtles? Do you collect them?’ He didn’t get the job.”

• “A woman was highly qualified, her résumé excellent. She performed well during the interview but wore kitty-cat bedroom slippers. She stated she wore the slippers because she believed a working environment should be relaxing.”

Me, Nervous?

• “I was interviewing a candidate for a job, and she was obviously nervous. She shook her leg so hard that her shoe flipped off and landed in my lap.”

• “A candidate threw up in the interviewer’s trash can.”

• “I bit into a pen because I was nervous and got ink all over myself.”

Bad Timing

• “Someone brought her infant on an interview and asked if she could stop to nurse.”

• “A friend cut himself shaving the morning of an interview. During the interview, he rubbed his neck and the wound opened up. He tried to conceal the blood—he thought he had his thumb clogging the wound as he pensively stroked his chin—but the interviewer stopped in the middle of a question and said, ‘Do you need to excuse yourself, sir?’ My friend looked down and saw a trickle of blood over the back of his hand, down his shirt sleeve, and onto his suit.”

• “The person I was interviewing fell asleep. I coughed to wake him up.”

Snap Judgments

• “I was interviewing someone wearing braces. One of the rubber bands slipped loose when she opened her mouth, and it hit me right in the forehead.”

• “A prospective employee asked my zodiac sign, then told me she was incompatible with me and left.”

• “An interviewee slapped my rear after an interview and exclaimed, ‘I can see you have some mad hops.’ Which I did, by the way, but still not the best move.”

• “I once asked an interviewer, ‘When are you due?’ as I myself was pregnant at the time. Unfortunately, she was not pregnant.”

Grace Under Pressure

• “A candidate nervously discarded a lit cigarette into the wastebasket at the beginning of the interview. It was full of paper and caught fire.”

• “The fire alarm went off during my final round of interviews with the company I work for now. We completed the interview on our way down six flights of steps.”

• “A candidate took his shoes off during the interview.”

• “A candidate called and left a message to say that she was going to be late for the interview due to traffic. She then accidentally left her cell phone on while she used very colorful language and yelled at other drivers.”

• “I interviewed an individual who was a bit rough around the edges in the language department. I could tell throughout that he was carefully selecting his words. At the end, he let out a sigh and said, ‘F—in’ A, I’m glad that’s over.’ ”

What I Meant . . .

• “During an interview, I asked the applicant to describe a mistake he’d made and how he’d responded. He said, ‘I cheated on my wife.’ ”

• “Immediately after receiving my offer letter, I forwarded it to my husband, expressing how excited I was to have the job and how we could celebrate. I believe the exact phrase was ‘make sweet love.’ Except I hit ‘reply.’ ”

• “When completing a security application, the applicant was asked to describe their alcohol consumption and entered ‘Merlot—preferably blackberry.’ ”

Come Again?

• “A candidate was asked if she had experience working with Windows, and she replied that she had just been promoted to the drive-through, so had only recently gained experience at the window.”

• “During an interview, some guy commented on how ‘hot’ the hiring manager’s wife was—a picture of the wife was on the desk.”

• “When a candidate was asked why she changed jobs every six to nine months, she answered that she didn’t get along with people all that well.”

• “A candidate said, ‘It’s not the court martial that’s holding up my clearance; it’s the bankruptcy.’ ”

• “Someone insisted that there be a desk provided for his dog or he wasn’t interested in working there.”

• “One candidate said, ‘People often mistake my lack of technical knowledge for incompetence.’ ”

• “A candidate was informed that he would need to complete a drug screen. The candidate stated that if he drank a quarter cup of bleach before taking the test, he would pass with no problem.”

Your Skills?

• “A woman interviewing for a secretarial position stated as a qualification that if I was having an affair, she could come up with creative cover stories when my wife called.”

• “Interviewing for an opening for a demographics analyst, the candidate said: ‘I’m perfect for the job. By the way, what does “demographics” mean?’ ”

• “I had an interviewee tell me she wasn’t a numbers person—during an interview for an accounting position.”

• “One guy, in response to a question about his skill set, replied: ‘I’ve definitely got a lot to teach you guys.’ ”

• “A person I was interviewing meant to put ‘warehouse experience’ on his résumé. Instead he had typed ‘whorehouse experience.’ ”

• “An applicant asked me if the work was hard—because she had reached a stage in her life in which she wanted to take it easy.”

• “A gal applied for a job as a
secretary and listed her strength on her application as ‘poofreading.’ ”

Any References?

• “I had an interviewee offer to have her therapist get on the phone to vouch for how much better she was doing.”

• “A candidate who was asked to bring references to the interview showed up with three people.”

• “My ex-brother-in-law—who had walked out on my sister—applied for a position on my staff. He told me he knew he had the inside track for the job in light of our relationship. Right.”