Worst Job Interview Experiences (and What We Can Learn from Them)

Last year, a job candidate walked out on a potential employer after having to wait 30 minutes beyond his scheduled interview time. According to his Facebook post, the candidate left the office, but not before giving the staff a piece of his mind. He said, “The company has expectations from me. Similarly, I also have expectations from the company. I do not think the interviewer will be more than 30 minutes late if he is meeting a client.”

Many people disapproved of his actions, with some claiming that it is common sense for jobseekers to wait if they are looking to secure a position at the company. Others applauded his bold move, especially since “everyone has only 24 hours in a day”. We often hear about bizarre job candidates, but what about employers who make the interview experience a nightmare for jobseekers? We asked two jobseekers to share their interview horror stories, and we dispense quick tips on what to do if you are unfortunate enough to land in similar situations.


The Obnoxious Prick

"Was scheduled to go for an interview at a public relations agency one evening. When I arrived, I noticed that there was another interview going on. As I sat waiting on the couch, I could hear almost everything that was being discussed, including the female candidate’s marital status and social life, which the hiring manager kept probing into. I started to get uncomfortable, but went against my gut and waited for nearly an hour past my interview slot. Just as I had made up my mind to leave, the hiring manager called me in.

No apologies whatsoever for the delay, and he did not even know my name! When he left the room, I assumed that he had gone to retrieve my CV, but he returned with a glass of wine instead. I tried my best to remain polite and engaged, but honestly, I knew that the interview was going nowhere. Besides droning on about his life and achievements, he also made several questionable comments, like how “girls cry easily” in high pressure environments. On hindsight, I should have withdrawn my application even before I stepped into the interview room. It could have saved both of us time! The experience taught me a lot about being respectful of other people’s time and the importance of staying grounded no matter how far up the ladder you climb." -- Beatrice, Accounts Executive

What to do: It is understandable if your interviewer is late due to factors beyond their control, such as last-minute conference calls or mishaps. This should be communicated to you promptly and with a genuine apology – it is basic courtesy!

Whether or not you are willing to forgo an interview even before it begins depends on how important the opportunity is to you. If you feel that it is too big an opportunity to give up, stay and proceed with enthusiasm. Even if the interviewer did not offer you an apology, power through the interview with grace and confidence.

However, if you decide to make a beeline for the exit, inform someone there that you would no longer be pursuing the opportunity with the company. The world is small and you never know who you will cross paths with or need help from in the future. Hence, be polite and professional, and thank them for considering you as a prospective hire.


Dissatisfied Boss

"Went for an interview at a production house. My arrival came as a surprise, even though both sides had agreed on the date and time. The lady who interviewed me did not seem very satisfied with anything I said. She followed up most of my responses with “Is that it?” and “Okay”. Apart from being rather cold towards me, she also gave me a 15-minute lecture on why I would not be a good fit for the role. I did not get the job. Found out later from a friend, who used to work there, that she is a horrible boss who treats her subordinates like slaves. Dodged a bullet there." -- Ismail, Marketing Executive

What to do: Do as much research as you can on the company and industry prior to the interview so that you will have enough topics to cover. Also, remember to prepare answers to common interview questions so you would not trip up or leave the interviewer doubtful of your abilities. Highlight unique projects you have done and how your skills can benefit the company, and ask relevant questions to engage a disinterested interviewer. Of course, if you are still greeted with animosity despite doing your best, then maybe it is not you, it is them.


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