Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Influencer II

Worst job interview

So, someone over on Twitter asked, "What's the worst job interview you've ever had?"


And SO many bad memories came flooding back.


There was the time I was sitting in the waiting area, and realized the people I could hear over the divider were the HR person and the superior to this position, trying to figure out what to ask because they had no idea how to hire for this position.


The "what do you want to be when you grow up" question has been very popular for a while.  (Usually worded "where do you want to be in 5/10/15 years.")  In one interview the HR person worded it very strangely so that it was sort of like "what do you want to have done before you die."  (I told her that I knew it was the wrong answer, but I'd already done it: wrote my first book.)


I've had a few "panel" interviews, one where I was facing 15 inquisitors.  The job was in teaching, and somewhat remote, and one of the interviewers, noting I had some first aid background, asked what I would do if one of the kids got a "bad burn."  So I started to ask him to define the situation more precisely, and laid out about a dozen factors you'd need to consider.  He sat in silence for a few seconds and finally said, "Well, I guess you know what you're talking about ..."


I've had numerous job interviews where I've seen, in the interviewer's eyes, the exact moment I lost the job, generally over a single word or phrase, usually not related to the job at all.


I had one interview for a systems analyst position, where they wanted me to take a written test.  It was a Lotus 1-2-3 trivia quiz photocopied out of a computer magazine.  (I took one looked and walked out.)


(All in all, though, they were great training for what not to do when I came time for me to do the hiring ...)


Other posts:

This message may or may not be governed by the terms of or
22 Replies
Newcomer III

 I have fortunately sat in the hiring manager chair for most of the interviews I have been in. I could tell you endless stories. Some funny, some sad, some unbelievable. 


However, I did go on an interview a couple of years ago that was going great. Their executive recruiter reached out to me and did her job in selling me with reasons to send her my resume and apply for a leadership position on their cyber team. The interviews were lengthy and lasted about 6 hours. CISO seemed to like me, her counterparts did as well (CIO) and a security manager and a director of security also seemed happy with me. They also brought in 2 engineers from their security staff that I would have managed and again, seemed to be going great. Then I met a security director that had some weird questions and was digging a bit hard to try to find what I did not know. Most of it was irrelevant for the role so I thought it was a fluke and just someone that was either unprepared to interview me or had less experience with doing them. 


I sent out short thank you emails to each of people I met with and every one of them replied back, except for the person that had the diverted challenge questions for me. Heck, even the CISO got back to me with saying "see you soon" as our next steps were a final interview with the CEO. 


Two weeks later I got a call from the recruiter and was told they were still trying to decide if they want to hire me. Not the process and timing they told me about so I asked why. I then got the full story but with the disclaimer that she should not be telling me this but... The person that made me feel uncomfortable during the interview that wanted the role but the CISO felt she did not have enough experience, hence they were looking for someone more senior. However, they were trying to decide if she was going to be a good fit. But.... you are still a candidate. I did not know what to say other than, no, I think your company decided. 


Contributor II

My worst was when I was 51 years old.   Show up and the interviews are going well.   Talk to a big wig, and the first thing he asks is, "How old are you?".     Seriously.


Tell him that I'm 51 and he says that, "Maybe we can get a couple of years out of you."    Needless to say, I couldn't wait till get out of there.


Of course this was/is illegal in the USA, but what is an applicant to do?


That company went out of business about a year after my interview.   

Contributor I

The worst one I have had was a few months ago. 

The position was for a security role taking over some of the tasks the security manager was doing.  Everything seemed to be going great.  The recruiter reached out for the initial discussion and screening.  All of that went great, and the hiring manager wanted to have a phone screen and would be able to do it after hours.  Awesome , don't have to try and sneak away at work for 30 minutes, or do it over lunch.


Phone screen went awesome.  30-45 minute planned phone screen went 2+ hours at the hiring managers request.  We were having a discussion that was a mix of technical and casual conversation.  Really got a feeling that I would work well with the manager.


Recruiter calls the next day and says the manager enjoyed the conversation, is very interested and wants to setup an in-person interview.  I say great let me know when.  He gives me a day for the interview and I decide to take the day off, and just relax once it is over.


The day of the interview arrives, everything continues along the path of this looking like a great fit.  Meet with the Security Manager and the IT Director and we all have a great rapport and the interview goes well.  Last interview was with the CIO.  Meet with him and it went ok, and this may have been where I lost the position, but I will never know.  Discussion with him was ok, but not as strong as the other talks.


Finish up, leave  the company and make the follow-up call to the recruiter.  Tell him I felt everything went great with the exception of the CIO, and that I think it went ok, but he was hard to read.  The recruiter said don't worry about that.  The manager really likes you and the reports are that the CIO is hard to read.  Recruiter tells me he will let me know when he has an update.  Calls a few hours later to tell me that I am the leading candidate and they are just having final discussions and that he will get back to me.


That was the last communication I got from the recruiter.  He ghosted me on LinkedIN messaging, text messages, phone calls, emails, everything....


I can understand if the company decided to go with another candidate, but a recruiter should have the courtesy to contact you with good news or bad news.  Even if it is just a quick test to say "hey they went another way.  Sorry, hopefully we can work on another position for you." 


After that I would never work with that recruiter or his company again.