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Hiring Managers Share Their Worst Interview Stories

One of the most challenging parts of the job-search process is the interview. If you're like most people, interviews make you at least a little nervous. And, when we're nervous, we tend to act a little funny. Needless to say, hiring managers have seen their fair share of interviews-gone-wrong.

One of the most challenging parts of the job-search process is the interview. If you’re like most people, interviews make you at least a little nervous. And, when we’re nervous, we tend to act a little funny. Needless to say, hiring managers have seen their fair share of interviews-gone-wrong.


(Photo Credit: tedmurphy/Flickr)

We can learn a lot when these folks share their experience. And, that’s just what they did in an AskReddit thread created by HandfulofGushers that posed the question, “Hiring Managers of Reddit: What are your nightmare interview stories?”

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Let’s take a look at some of the tales those hiring managers told. They revealed some interesting stories, and some powerful takeaways that might come in handy for your next job interview.

Dna87 wrote: Not me, but my Dad told me a great story. He was hiring for a technical position near London. He has one guy come in with an older gentlemen. The interviewee was in his mid-30s while the guy with him was mid-50s. This person was apparently his Dad.

The guy who was actually there to be interviewed never spoke, but the man in his 50s comes in and the first thing he does is start trying to negotiate about pay. He’d come in on the assumption that of course his son was going to be hired, and now they just needed to hammer out the details on what his son was going to get in terms of pay and benefits.

My Dad told them that if the older man was willing to wait outside he would be happy to restart the interview but since the interviewee’s Dad was not going to be working there he had no reason to speak to him. They declined this offer and left.

The takeaway: Although you might have heard stories about applicants bringing their parents to job interviews, or having them help out during the salary negotiation process, it’s not advisable. When interviewing for your next job, leave your parents at home. It might seem like a harmless enough move but it’s not. You want to come off as independent, motivated, mature, and capable at your next interview. Bringing a parent along signals just the opposite.

Trying2BaWiseGuy wrote: I was hiring for a position in my office. It was a final-round interview, and if I liked the candidate, she’d get the job.

I meet her and, like most candidates for jobs, she brings in a copy of her resume. I sit her down and ask as an opening question, “So, what caused you to take interest in this position?”

The girl smiles and says, “Well, I have a lot of experience that I feel I could bring to the table, which is on my resume.”

She then looks down at her resume and proceeds to read it to me. Verbatim and in its entirety. For 15 minutes straight. No eye contact. She reads word-for-word every bullet point, every detail, every award and leadership position that she had in college, what she did at her last internship … most of which had absolutely nothing to do with the job.

After 15 minutes of her talking, I still did not know why she was interested in the job. In fact, all I knew about her was the information on her resume, which I had received and read prior to the interview. And she knew I’d previously seen it because I’d mentioned reading her resume before we sat down. I didn’t bother asking all the questions I was supposed to. We talked for a little bit after that, and then I thanked her for her time and called it a day.

The takeaway: Most of us know enough not to read our resumes aloud in their entirety during interviews, but there is still something here for us to think about. Interviews are about getting to know candidates face-to-face, so be sure to go beyond your resume and show what a great addition you’d be to the office. Employers want to hire people that are qualified, but they also want to hire people who will be a good addition to the team. It’s important to demonstrate that you have solid social/emotional skills during your interview.

OmnipotentBeing wrote: Was interviewing mechanical engineers for a junior position. Typically we will ask candidates about why or how they left their previous job. A common reason for people to quit is a lengthy commute. One particular candidate informed me that his current commute was too long. “How long?” I asked. “There are 37 traffic lights between my home and the office,” he replies. “I see,” says I. Then he continues unprompted, “There are only 15 between my home and your office so that’s much better.”

I and the other hiring manager laughed our heads off after he left and called him back with a job offer that afternoon. He’s a great engineer, too.

The takeaway: Be yourself. The things that cause some folks to label you as quirky in the outside world might help you find your niche within your field. This hiring manager recognized a detail-oriented engineer when he met him. Your future boss could see the same in you – but, you have to give yourself permission to be yourself first, quirks and all. Of course, be sure to act in a professional and respectful way as well.

Finally, prtzl616 simply wrote: Pajama pants.

The takeaway – Please dress appropriately for a job interview. No sweats, pajamas or “wet swimsuit” (a response submitted to this post from okname). Instead, be sure to look professional, otherwise you risk losing the game before even making your first move.

Answers have been lightly edited for consistency.

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