Real Job-Interview Bombs

For job seekers, landing an interview is a dream come true. But unfortunately, the actual interview can quickly go from dream to nightmare.

I’ve heard stories of people being interviewed for the wrong job, interviewers interviewing the wrong candidate and grilling them about the wrong resume–you name it, it has happened, says Ellen Reeves, the author of “Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview?”

You think you’ve had a bad job interview or two? How do they compare to these bombs from both sides of the interview desk?


Naptime happens

While I was in the middle of explaining my previous job duties, I realized that the man who was interviewing me had fallen asleep. I spoke loudly and tried coughing, but he was out cold, snoring. Since it was a one-man business, I just wrote him a quick note and left. I never heard back.–Cathy Ng,bookkeeper

Oh, my Lord

I once had a candidate tell me the prophet of Jesus, who lived in his closet, told him to apply for the job I interviewed him for.–Amanda Schnaub, hiring for a photocopy assistant

The attorney audition

During an interview at a law firm, the interviewer discovered that law student Jerry Levine had sung a cappella in college. “All of a sudden, he puts down my resume and asks if I know anything from ‘Annie,’ his daughter’s favorite musical. When I said yes, he said, ‘If you’re interested in continuing this interview, you’re going to sing “Tomorrow” to her on the phone right now.’ I must have been off-key because I never heard from that firm again.”

Don’t sweat it

At an interview for a job with a defense contractor, Internet marketing specialist Tom Shivers was faced with a difficult interviewer who stared at him silently after he answered each question. “I was wearing a suit and tie and had just come in from 90 degree heat outdoors. I began to sweat. The interviewer continued to stare–and watch large beads of sweat roll down my face.”

Phone interference

Paul Bailo, the author of “The Official Phone Interview Handbook,” has fielded more than his share of phone-interview fails:

One woman placed me on hold for 20 minutes and finally returned, saying she had to let the dogs out.
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A former CEO from a utility company conducted his interview from the men’s room. The whole time, there was a ton of bathroom noise, water running, toilet flushing….

The old bait and switchboard

Years ago Rochelle Peachey, who now runs a U.K.-U.S. dating site called I Love Your Accent, interviewed for a job as a temporary telephone operator. “I knew I couldn’t work the switchboard, but my friend told me to bluff it because they would like me and train me. I spoke knowledgably–until the interviewer put me in a room with the dreaded switchboard to test me. The lights were flashing; I panicked and climbed out of the second-floor window.”

If you need to bolster your skill set, pursuing additional education can help you to gain the skills you need to get the job you want.

Walk much?

I had an interview with a corporate headhunter and was extremely nervous. I must have crossed my legs extremely tightly, for a long time, because when the interview ended and I got up to shake hands, I nearly fell to the floor because of my rubber leg. I started to laugh nervously, then hysterically, as I pounded my leg and limped out the door.–Paula Hubbs Cohen, freelance writer


Sue Michaels, now the marketing manager for Sierra College, was offered a cup of coffee before her interview. When she sat down to interview, she went to set the coffee down. The coffee immediately spilled all over the important papers of interviewer.

When interviewers attack

Lawyer Jane Jones (not her real name) was being courted to work at a law firm. Everything was going perfectly until her interview with a partner in the firm. He began attacking her verbally because she was slightly older than other law-school grads and not from the area. “He yelled, ‘What did you do with your life?! You wasted it! You’ll never be let into the local culture!'”

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