In the Mood for Something Scary? Job Interview Horror Stories

If you’re searching for a good horror story to celebrate the spookiest time of year, look no further than the universally dreaded job interview. Below are some of the most cringe-worthy interview stories submitted to Simply Hired by our fans. 

Mistaken Identity

“For me, the nightmare was before the interview. I submitted my resume to the founder of a small company. I checked my e-mail over several times for grammar errors, but I was blinded by the obvious major error. I had mistakenly put in the wrong name of the person it was addressed to. Instead of the owner I put the name of another CEO whose name was everywhere in the recent news. They both had the same first name, but it was spelled differently. Their last names also started out the same but were completely different. I didn’t notice this gaffe until the owner himself responded to it. I have no idea how I was able to recover and get an interview for that position, but I did. I didn’t get the job.”

Legally Oblivious

“A lawyer interviewing me asked what professor I had for my constitutional law class in school. He then asked what I thought of that professor. I told him that we usually had no idea what she was talking about because she was so hard to understand. Then the interviewer told me that the professor was his wife. They had different last names. I of course did not get the job.”

Wanted: Researcher/Lion Tamer

“I was interviewing for a position in which I was required to write a sample report and then discuss it with the hiring manager on the phone. The manager grilled me about what I wrote, essentially questioning the validity of my assumptions and the basis for my research. His questions were so aggressive I started tearing up and was unable to answer, knowing that if I did I would break into tears. He finally said, ‘I’m going easy on you. If you can’t handle questions like this, you’re not going to be able to get in front of clients.’ Luckily I didn’t get the job, but later on I heard from several others that he was a jerk to everyone that worked for him. Two people on his team, one of whom recruited me, left the company less than a year later.”

Can Chew Gum AND Walk

“During college I interviewed to be an alumni fundraiser. Toward the end the interviewer asked what my biggest accomplishment was. With no prior work experience, and since I didn’t do any research into how to interview beforehand, I was completely taken aback by the question. I ended up answering, ‘Well I made it this far. That’s pretty good.’ I didn’t get the job.”

Panel of Doom

“I agreed to an interview for a high school teaching position during college finals week and headed over after a quantum mechanics final that I had pulled an all-nighter studying for. I arrived late and received a look of disapproval upon giving my name to the receptionist. At this point I remembered that I didn’t really like high school very much. Even though I was just graduating college, I had already worked several jobs and was used to an interview format where you sit down with the boss and have a pleasant one-on-one conversation about yourself and the company. But when I walked into the conference room at the high school, I found a panel of 12 people there to evaluate me.

“The first question I was asked was, ‘Tell us about what types of teaching methods you like to use in the classroom and why you think they would work in a XYZ school’ – XYZ being a word I’d never heard before. Up until this point I had not thought anything about what they might ask, I had no training to be a teacher, had done no research on being a teacher, knew nothing about philosophies, methods or thought that there might be types of school other than public or private.

“I tried to sidestep the question, but the panelist cut me off and asked again about the teaching methods used. I gave an answer that clearly was not what she was looking for. Then she followed that up with, ‘Why do you think you would be a good fit for the teaching position at this school?’ It was pretty clear that I was not, but I answered anyway. The next thing that became clear was every person on the 12-person committee was going to ask me two questions, and I was not going to be prepared for any of them.

“What I did take away from that interview was a sense of every question I would be asked over my next couple dozen teaching interviews. I had answered the panel’s questions so badly that they started explaining their questions and basically telling me what they had wanted to hear. That interview was one of the worst hours of my life, but it prepared me to go on and get teaching offers from almost every other interview I had.”

Welcome to America

Interviewer: “What’s your name?”

Me: [I stated my name.] (Wait a minute. Isn’t he looking right at my resume?)

Him: Is that your real name?

Me: Yes.

Him: Oh, because I interviewed a Chinese girl before you and it turned out that Michelle wasn’t her real name. So your last name is Wong. What is that?

Me: I’m Chinese.

Him: One of the researchers at the lab speaks Mandarin. You should be able to get along really well with him. I lived in Japan for eight years, so I speak fluent Japanese. Do you speak Japanese?

Me: No

Him: Ohayou gozaimasu. Do you know what that means?

Me: No.

Him: Do you like manga?

He may as well have taped the corners of his eyes with Scotch tape to ridicule me. At least that would have been less frustrating and perhaps a bit entertaining.

Want to see what it’s like on the other side? Read our employer interview horror stories!

Don’t become part of an interview horror story! Read these articles to succeed in your next interview. 


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