8 Horror Interview Stories From Recruiters and Candidates

With Halloween very much on its way next week, I thought I’d do our yearly “Halloween special”.

You can see last year’s here: 8 Spooky Candidates Recruiters Are Afraid Of [Halloween Special]

This year I’ve gone a little different and decided to share with you some interview horror stories.

They’re from both client and candidate points of view (though more candidates).

So, enjoy!

1. Best not to lie

Really? It’s not worth lying about your skills… As displayed by this person, you’ll just look silly.

“Before interviewing, we ask people to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 for their abilities with specific software.

We’re used to receiving fabricated self-ratings.

But on one occasion, we had someone rate themselves a 9.

When they came into the interview, they literally had no idea how to even begin to use the software.

It’s shocking because we’re upfront about the testing process and that it’s part of the interview.”


2. We all need personal space

Um, I’m not really sure what I’d do in this situation.

In fact, I’d probably have got up and left. The interviewers were just insulting and strange!

“There were only two people in there.

When they conducted the interview, one of them, this skinny manager type guy, kept leaning close to me when he talked.

I mean close as in “nose almost touching my neck” close.

After a few seconds I sidled the chair away, but he started moving with me.

Did I mention he was eating? The crumbs from his sandwich were landing on my shoulder, that’s how close he was.

The other guy was like a reject off the set of a Jason Bourne flick.

He asked me *nothing* about the “design writing” job.

Instead he asked me to produce my driver’s license, a photograph of my next-of-kin (which I didn’t have, and wouldn’t have shown if I had), and he kept demanding proof of identity.

He wanted my birth certificate, my BAPTISM certificate, and he “needed to know” which nursery I went to.

He straight up told me that he suspected I was a foreigner, and that I was here without a work permit.

Else why wouldn’t I bring my birth certificate?”


3. This is heartbreaking

A definite horror, this one.

I’d hate to have been sat in that room, you’d feel so bad for the poor lady.

“In the middle of a job interview, someone came in and told my interviewer that she needed to take a call.

She picks up, and over the next 30 seconds she went from all-business, to horror, to breaking down in sobs and crying.

Then she was helped from the room, with me sitting there wondering what the heck just happened.

It turned out, that it was her doctor calling, to tell her that her husband had just died of a massive heart attack.”


4. I probably wouldn’t have gone to this interview

Not sure this is an interview I’d carry on walking in to…

Although, I probably would have as you’ll read in number 5 where I share my own horror story.

What would you do in this situation?

“I got called in for an interview at a local law firm.

I knew something was off when I got to the building — the first floor was completely derelict and abandoned!

I followed a trail of paper signs up to their third-floor office, where I had to ask an employee sitting at a desk who I should notify that I had arrived (since there was no one at the front desk).

A recruiter invited me into her office shortly after, where she was cooking ramen.

In the midst of tending to her instant noodles, she asked me questions designed for a different position than the one I had applied for.

Then, a girl in pyjamas came in to administer a writing test, which was a sample of the day-to-day work I would be doing.

It lasted two hours and was so boring that I nearly got up in the middle of it and left.

Nevertheless, I pushed through and finished it.

When they offered the position to me a few days later, I declined — thank goodness!”


5. This one’s my own

Yep, okay, I’ll hold my hands up and own up to this one.

It was a truly terrifying experience, I won’t lie to you!

“One of my first job interviews, straight after university, was with an Estate Agent.

I didn’t have a car at the time so had to get to my destination via public transport – 3 trains and a 20 minute walk to be precise.

On reaching “my destination,” I found myself walking around what I can only describe as a ghost-town esque, completely abandoned retail park.

It was quite clear that no one had been trading there for a fair while.

The actual “unit” I was interviewing in had no sign, dirty windows and the lights were all turned off… a bit scary. Must have the wrong place right?

So I called the interviewer (no answer) and my recruiter who informed me that yes, I was indeed at the right place. So I knocked and knocked and knocked.

And finally (after 10 minutes) my interviewer came to the door. I won’t go into the ins and outs of the stranger who let me in (it would be rude) but I will let you know that he left me in a darkened room, without heating, for 20 minutes to complete a task on his laptop.

And there was no explanation as to what on earth was going on.

I went home feeling fairly perplexed and to be honest, rather glad that I never heard from the company ever again.”

You can read more scary interview stories in our previous post.

6. I don’t like fingernails

I personally have a really weird discomfort with fingernails, so this story made me feel a bit queasy…

“When I first moved to New York, I had just graduated college and I was desperate for a job.

I was going through the usual round of recruiting agency after recruiting agency when finally, one recruiter got me an interview for an assistant position at a hedge fund.

The recruiter coached me on my interview, telling me what to say and what not to say, then at the end, he said, ‘If you don’t say exactly what we discussed, I’ll rip your fingernails off!’ I was honestly not sure if he was joking or not.

Thankfully, I got the job and kept my fingernails.”


7. Mystery caller

This story is exactly why you don’t choose a shortcut when it comes to job seeking.

“I applied online for 5 jobs a few days ago.

Was in a rush so on a job seeker’s website I applied only for jobs that had a “Click her to apply now option” that would automatically send off my CV.

I’m rarely hopeful, and I rarely get a response but 2 days ago I got a phone call from a blocked number late in the evening.

I answered, expecting to her an automated voice tell I’m “one of many UK home owners that haven’t claimed insurance” or whatever.

Instead, I get a pleasant Scottish man asking if I applied for a job at “smarhahfh.”

‘Um, Yes?’ I answered.

“Great, I’ll interview you on Wednesday, at the Job centre near [my address]. See you then.”

Everything he said was clear, except what Job I was interviewing for.

It could honestly be any of the 5 jobs including cleaner, retail, administrative assistant, commission salesman for construction equipment or a “mystery caller.”

But I have no idea which job it’s for, so I can’t do any research into whatever business it is beforehand.”


8. It’s all up in flames now!

I just… At least she’s honest?

“We were in final rounds with a woman for a in-house designer role.

We get the offer on the table and say the final step is just the background check.

There is dead silence on the phone, and finally the woman says, “Well I have to go ahead and admit that I won’t pass the criminal background check, because I caught my man cheating, so I burned his house down.”



So, although not all of them are spine-chillingly scary, they’re still “horror interviews” in my eyes!

And by that I mean they’re very far from perfect.

What do you think? Have you ever had a horrific interview?

If you have, I’d love to hear about it.

Drop me a comment in the box below or reach out to us on Twitter.

After all, you could be the feature of our next blog!

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