Halloween: job interview horror stories

  • Emma Finamore
  • Last updated 24 Sep 2018

Be afraid. Be very afraid.


Ok, vampires can be pretty scary, and we’re not huge fans of the un-dead, but nothing can strike fear into the heart of a young job seeker quite like an interview horror story.  Here are a few that might keep you up at night this Halloween…

Tom, 25, Bristol

I went for a job in the Ministry of Defence when I was about 17, at the civil service. I walked into the interview room and when I tried to take my coat off I inadvertently ripped the buttons on my shirt, tearing it open and baring my chest. In front of a table full of people…

After I had composed myself they then asked my opinions on devolution. I misheard and thought they said “evolution”, and started to rabbit on about Charles Darwin. They just let me continue with lots of tapping of fingers on the desk and raised eyebrows.

I was not offered the job. At the time it was quite traumatic but now very funny.

Zoe, 28, London

A recruitment agency wanted to do a practice run before my real job interview at a high-profile multinational investment bank. The recruiter decided to play 'devil's advocate' before and basically was interrogating me about why I hadn't got good A-levels and why there were gaps on my CV.

 She was asking what could I possibly offer the company and was really, really cruel. It was so relentless that she actually made me cry! And when the floodgates opened I just couldn't stop...

After that she said she didn't want to represent me and cancelled the interview. Great.

Susan, 30, Middlesbrough

About four years ago I had an interview to work aboard a ship (a sort of historical tourist attraction) as part of its learning and education team. I went wearing my best interview dress and as it was a warm day I’d braved bare legs. What I had failed to realise is that in order to reach the interview room I’d have to climb down a ladder into the bowels of the ship.

Wobbling your way down a ladder is already slightly tricky in a dress, but it was made so much worse by the fact that the man showing me to the interview room stood at the bottom of the ladder, looking up at me the WHOLE TIME.

I shudder about it even now: creepy man watches while I inadvertently flash my knickers before an interview.

Awful. Just. Awful.

John, 29, Coventry

I was being interviewed for a summer job at a betting shop, when the woman interviewing me suddenly asked why I had so many different places on my CV when I was only 19 years old. I told her the truth: that most summers I signed up to a temporary recruitment agency and they would just send me to lots of different jobs, wherever I was needed.

She said she wondered whether it was actually because I’d been sacked from all these places, and I patiently explained again that this was not the case – they were just temporary jobs. She basically called me a liar and ended the interview.

Needless to say I did not get the job. Needless to say I wouldn’t have wanted it anyway.

Rory, 29, Dublin

I was once so late for a job interview I had to go in a full tracksuit. Without having a shower.

Somehow I actually was offered the job, so it’s more of a job interview miracle than a horror story!

Jack, 30, London

At an interview for an advertising agency I was suddenly asked to give a short presentation on a car manufacturer. With just five minutes to prepare.

As my interviewers left me alone to prepare (aka. panic), one of them winked at and said: “Feel free to use the room in any way you want.”

As soon as I heard that, I decided that this was my big chance to demonstrate my creativity and ‘outside the box’ thinking, and started to rearrange the office furniture into the shape of a car: I moved the massive desk out of the way and arranged the chairs and the waste paper bin, I even placed the round chairs on their side to make them look like wheels.

One of the walls of the interview room was made of glass and various employee kept walking past, staring at me in disbelief. I looked mad.

When my interviewers came back, they were shocked to say the least. The room looked like a bombsite and I hadn’t prepared anything. I started talking complete rubbish at a ridiculously fast speed, and kept mumbling random words that vaguely related to cars and repeated the car manufacturer’s catchphrase over and over again until the words meant nothing at all.

I got the job though!

No I didn’t. That was just more rubbish.  


Nb. Some names have been changed to protect the modesty (or egos) of our interviewees


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