Have you ever experienced anything like these?

15 Scary Job Search Stories That Will Make You Cringe
Photo by Alexander Cahlenstein

1) Most destructive interviewee

From Professor Ad Man:

“I had a job interview for a communication specialist position at The American Red Cross. The supervisor asked me to take a seat. As I scooted my chair back to make room for my portfolio, my seat hit the shelf behind me and I knocked over some stuff, breaking the man's journalism awards. He still offered me the job — my first “real” job after college. Ironically, I was the communications specialist for Disaster Services for three years.”

2) Creepiest job interview ever

From Archinect.com:

“There were only two people in there, both prime candidates for a mental health aid poster. When they conducted the interview, one of them, this skinny manager type guy, kept leaning close to me when he talked. I mean close as in “nose almost touching my neck” close. After a few seconds I sidled the chair away, but he *started moving with me*. Did I mention he was eating? The crumbs from his goddamn sandwich were landing on my shoulder, that's how close he was.

The other guy was like a reject off the set of a Jason Bourne flick. He asked me *nothing* about the “design writing” job. Instead he asked me to produce my IC, my driver's license, a photograph of my next-of-kin (which I didn't have, and wouldn't have shown if I had), and he kept demanding proof of identity. He wanted my birth certificate, my BAPTISM certificate, and he “needed to know” which kindergarten I went to. He straight up told me that he suspected I was a foreigner, and that I was here without a work permit. Else why wouldn't I bring my birth certificate?”

3) Most heart-wrenching interview

From Cbsnews.com:

“In the middle of a job interview, someone came in and told my interviewer that she needed to take a call. She picks up, and over the next 30 seconds she went from all-business, to horror, to breaking down in sobs and crying. Then she was helped from the room, with me sitting there wondering what the heck just happened.

It turned out, that it was her doctor calling, to tell her that her husband had just died of a massive heart attack.”

4) Most exploitative employer

From Medreps.com:

“Right out of college, I was invited to interview at a sports marketing firm. My first interview with the firm’s VP was brief, but fine. I was invited back for a second meeting and was told this would be a chance for me to “job shadow” and get a better feel for the position.

I showed up the following morning (in business attire) and was asked to get in a car with two (male) employees and drive 2 hours for some “face to face meetings” with customers. I naively went along for the ride, only to realize upon getting to our destination that we would be knocking on doors asking potential “customers” to buy coupon books.

Stunned, I wandered around the neighborhood with my assigned partner for a few houses before the sky opened up and it started to pour. I demanded to be driven back, but the team leader said he had “customers” to see and couldn't take me now. I had him drop me at a mall and called my boyfriend to drive the 2 hours to come pick me up. Nightmare!”

5) When The Police Arrive…

From InterviewBackdoor.com:

“An applicant had taken a cab from the airport hotel. He had a dispute with the driver over the fare. Unsatisfied with the amount of money he received, the cab driver called the police. The job interview was interrupted by one of our security officers, who had to escort the applicant to the lobby where he was asked by police to pay the cab driver the remaining fare.”

6) In the stars

From Noholtzbarred.com:

“Following an hour of good conversation, as I was leaving and shaking hands with the executive who interviewed me, he thanked me for my time. He then asked me to “please send me your astrological sign along with your salary requests and three references.” At first, I thought I misheard the request but he then explained that in the past the company would request a graphology report. After graphology test results have proven to be inconclusive, he requests the astrological signs of each candidate to determine if the perspective candidate will be a good match with the other staff members.”

7) Scariest thank you letter

From Work Coach Cafe:

“I happened to be schmoozing with the head of the desperate department, and he showed me a hand-written ”thank you for the third interview” note the person had sent …

… The huge letters mixed with tiny letters…the erratic and varying angles and slants…different thicknesses in the one signature…and I can’t remember what else – well, it just gave me the creeps …

… After careful research and off-the-record discussions with former employers, it turned out this person had a huge anger problem and has been let go quite a few times …

… And finally I got someone to tell me at least a few of the scary details. Details we saw for ourselves in person after we called to say we were sorry but we wouldn’t be making an offer – and he came in person a couple of times to scream at us (kept calling too), and threatened he’d get even. It was pretty scary!”

8) Drunken interviewer starts to lose it

From Abcnews.com:

“… an interviewer she agreed to meet at a Starbucks arrived under the influence.

“He was late and kind of stressed out,” said Margrit, who'd already checked with her industry contacts to ensure the guy was on the up and up. “It was apparent from the moment he sat down that he was definitely wasted or jonesing for something. He was shaking.

After 10 minutes of “fairly normal conversation” with the guy, things turned weird, she said.

“He gets a real serious look in his eye and asks me, ‘Are you a Christian? Because my whole company is born again, and we have to have someone who is Christian. We still party, but we're Christians,'” Margrit said.

“He then went on to talk about a million other things that didn't even string together into cohesive statements,” Margrit added. “And then he left me sitting there so that he could go to his car and get a cigarette.”

Zombie job interview

9) Scariest executive recruiter

From Keppie Careers:

“So, this so-called executive recruiter sends me a questionnaire (10 pages BTW) and says complete it and schedule an “interview.” Well, in full disclosure, I only completed half, but went ahead and scheduled the meeting. After all, I was an executive and my resume was what I wanted to talk about. So, while waiting in the lobby of this firm, some guy walks out to greet me. He’s wearing some ridiculous looking suit with tennis shoes and showing off a shiny keychain that says “Hyundai” and acts like he’s doing me a favor by taking the time to meet with me.

The guy walks me to some conference room, throws the half-complete questionnaire on the table and begins to yell at me–literally. He proceeds to tell me that I’m a loser and have no future. I couldn’t believe it!

So, I stood up and said I made a mistake. Then–THEN–he calls me an “a-hole” as I walked out. All I said was, ” Back at ya!”

Following this, eh em…episode, I landed a job as an executive for an online brokerage firm in Texas. I always wanted to call the guy and rub it in, but why stoop to that level.”

10) Most infectious handshake

From Jobs.aol.com:

“Years ago, when I was getting ready to graduate, I was invited to interview at a bio-tech firm. When I was brought in to meet a VP of the company, he stood, sneezed into his bare hands and then extended his hand to me; which, since I was job-seeking, I shook. I then kept my right hand dangling off the edge of my chair taking care not to touch anything. I felt like I was on ‘Candid Camera.' His desk was covered with a tissue box, cold medicine, cough drops and other sick paraphernalia. I quite literally ran from his office at the end of the interview to the ladies room to wash my hands!!!”

11) Worst choice of references

From Bangor Daily News:

“Four years ago I interviewed someone for a ‘Gold Collar’ level position. Let’s call him Jack.

Jack interviewed very well but I still to this day have no idea why he gave me the references he did. I called the references and two were good and two were horrible! One was a past employer from another state. Let’s call him Joe. Joe was also the owner of the company, which is rare for a reference but I thought I would call anyway.

That was when I got an earful!

Joe was so mad!

He said Jack was a ‘deadbeat, lowlife, stealing, lazy BLEEP and if I saw Jack again to remind him he still owed the company $5,000!’

I told Joe I had talked to two other people from his company and they gave good references. He asked me for the names and then told me . . . they were his buddies and he had fired them all at the same time for theft.

I couldn’t believe this guy gave his employer that fired him for theft as a reference! Do people think we don’t call references?”

12) Trainwreck

From Quora:

“I was applying for a sales position at a well-known national outdoors equipment co-operative. I was over-qualified for the position and had an eye to moving up in the company. I showed up on time for my interview, and then proceeded to wait awkwardly for 20 minutes with one interviewer while the other (and main) interviewer was running late. When he finally arrived, he was obviously preoccupied (perhaps he'd forgotten about the interview). He informed me the company had recently adopted a new interview format and that this was his first interview post the change, which became apparent once I realized he was conducting the process from an instructional packet he had never seen before. After posing a few awkward questions, he started repeating questions and then saying, “No, I already asked you that…” It was a half-hour slow-motion trainwreck, which the other interviewer and I could only sit and watch in appalled disbelief.

When I got the call a week later telling me I hadn't gotten the job, I replied, “No, your company failed the interview.””

13) Cry them a river

Via Quora:

“I had to face an interview board consisting of around 8 people seated on a long desk. Behind them the wall was just glass and as it was morning time, the sun shone brightly through the glass. As I was seated facing the window during the interview, my eyes started to get watery from all the bright light that I was facing. I tried my best to resist it but now it had started showing and then the interviewer asked me if I was crying and then I explained and wiped my ‘tears'.”

14) Starting with a bang

Via Reddit:

“This happened about a decade ago and I was applying for a bank teller position (entry level). I showed up on time, dressed nice – suit and a tie, had my resume printed up. But as I was waiting in the front office i had to fart so bad but I held it because it was just me and the receptionist. Plus I figured I could just let it pass while walking to the interviewers office, which I did.

Unfortunately their office was only one door down (10 feet maybe) and the fart followed me into the office. I played it off the best I could but with just me and the interviewer it was known who passed the gas. I didn't get the job.”

15) Cringeworthy

Via Quora:

Freshman year I was a tour guide for the Caltech admissions office.

Interviewer: Tell me about diversity on campus.
Me: Uh, there's a lot of whites and a lot of Asians and a few Hispanics and one black guy.

I still got the job, but he said I should say something different during my tours.”


Some quickies from Workopolis.com:

“I flew from NY to LA to interview someone who asked me to stand there and wait in a hotel lobby so that she could finish the game of solitaire she was playing, because it looked like she was going to win.”

“I was doing a phone interview and when I asked if the candidate had any questions for me. She replied, ‘You sound very attractive, I think we may have a connection. Would you please describe what you look like in detail?' Really????”

“I asked a recent college grad what was the last “professional” book she read, and she replied, 50 Shades of Grey.”

“My co-worker finds the interviewee sitting at our kitchen table drinking a beer with other people from our work. She comes upstairs WITH the beer! She wore leggings to the interview. Post interview, we walk her downstairs, say goodbye and go upstairs for about another hour. We go back downstairs to leave (this is at like 9pm) AND SHE'S STILL THERE DRINKING! She stayed until everyone left!”

WANT MORE? You'll enjoy Top 10 Funniest Job Horror Stories.

Have your own scary job search story to share? Tell us in the comments.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Stephanie

    I think the scariest part of all of these stories is that they are true! I feel bad for the lady that broke down and started to cry when her husband had the heart attack. 🙁

  2. Moshe

    These are great ! It makes you kind of realize that interviews could be worse…



  3. James Davis

    Thanks Jacob for this article. Candidates should keep this in mind that the interviews can be worse, so they should never get disappointed in-fact they should work more harder on how to face the interview.

  4. braith mahr

    boring at its best!

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