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Interview Horror Stories

Bad Interview

You read about all of the tips and tricks to nailing your interviews, but how often do you get to hear about the horror stories that occur?

Interviews can be scary, and if you've ever messed up an interview, don't worry, you're not alone!

We have several "interview horror stories" to show you that will probably make you cringe a little. On the other hand, take comfort in the fact that someone, somewhere is having an interview that's probably worse than yours! The main takeaway is that you should learn from these mistakes so that you don't ruin your chances of getting the job!

Note: These stories were altered to protect the identities of their owners.

1. The Sweat Machine

"I had an interview scheduled for a Wednesday around 11AM that my parent's friend put together. It was still July so the weather was blazing hot. The office was slightly out of the way from the MTR station, so I had to walk out in the sun for a little bit. The walk is only supposed to take 7 minutes according to Google Maps, so I figured I could show up at the station 15 minutes beforehand and walk over to get there on time.

I got to the station at 10:50AM (first mistake) and began walking out. First off, it was insanely hot, and I didn't realize that the road to the office was up a huge slope. I started climbing the hill up and I could already feel the sweat starting to build up under my shirt. I looked at my watch and it was already 10:56, and I wasn't even close to half way. So what did I do?

I ran.

I ran as hard as I could up the hill to the office. As I arrived at the building, I'm hit with the realization that I don't even know what floor they're located on! I pull out my phone by the elevator (one was out of service and there were only two others) and furiously sift through my emails to find my confirmation letter, all the while drenched in sweat. I finally find my email, wait for what seems like forever for the elevator to arrive, and press on the 32nd floor (This building has 35 floors). I walk into the office and meet the HR manager who was interviewing me, who is obviously displeased with my tardiness and appearance.

My final arrival time? 11:21AM. Did I get the job? Nope.

Later on, I found out that the interviewer was not impressed with my lateness and inability to plan accordingly. I guess I deserved that."

It's key that you plan appropriately when you're heading somewhere you're unfamiliar with (even more when the weather is humid and hot!). Give yourself 30 minutes or so to prep before a meeting. If it's hot, find a coffee shop nearby that you can relax in before your interview so that you can walk in fresh and ready. Do not make the mistake of heading there at the last minute!

2. The Unprepared One

"I was interviewing candidates for a sales position in our company (we sell software online, all of which is detailed on our site), and we had one candidate who came in looking incredibly confident and a little bit cocky. I sat him down in our meeting room and began asking him the questions regarding his experience and what he thought about the position at hand.

He told me a bit about his experiences, which were pretty good. That all changed when I asked him about what his expectations were for this job.

He looked at me with a blank expression and said "Could you actually tell me what the job entails a bit more?". So of course, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and told him what the position was.

"Oh okay. So, what would I actually be selling?"

Needless to say, I thanked him for his time and showed him the door. It's okay to ask for clarification on your job duties, but not doing any research on the interviewing company's products and offerings? That's all I need to know about what kind of employee he would be like."

Don't waste your own time and your interviewer's time. Instead of showing up to an interview without any information, why not put in a little time to do some research on the company so that you can impress your hiring point of contact? The company's website and a Google news search are good places to start. You're shooting yourself in the foot if you go into an interview blind.

3. The Truth Stretcher

"We were hiring a technical SQL position and had a young lady in for an interview. On paper, she seemed great. Relevant experiences, strong background, etc.

When we interviewed her about her past experiences, it seemed like she had a hard time bringing up memories of her work and the people she worked with. Okay, no big deal. I can understand if you're a little nervous and having trouble bringing up your first or second job experiences.

After that, we asked her some technical questions. "So how would you perform this task using SQL?". Her first response was "I would export it to Excel and manipulate it there".

Well, not what I was expecting but let's see what comes next.

"How about this task?"

"Well I guess I could probably export it to Excel and work on the data there."

This is when I started Googling the top portions of her resume, pretending I was looking up different parts of my interview question. First thing I got? A sample resume for SQL admins. She literally copy and pasted her resume from Google. I'm not sure what her gameplan was but as soon as I made that discovery, I showed her the page where I found her resume and told her that she could leave now."

From time to time, everybody stretches the truth a little bit on their resume, but let's not get carried away. Make sure that all of the skills and experiences you listed on your resume carries a majority of the truth with it and that you can give specific examples for each of the points you raise. You'll only get into deeper trouble if you embellish too much of your resume!

Chris Chu

Freelance writer, passionate about professional and personal development.

4 min read

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