Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

The 7 Scariest Interview Stories We’ve Heard From Candidates

By James Ball | Feb 16, 2017 | Friday Funnies

This week, we wrote a post about how to make a candidate feel comfortable during an interview.

Thing is; a comfortable candidate is far more likely to shine; revealing their true, best self.

The 7 Scariest Interview Stories We've Heard From CandidatesWe know that. Some recruiters don’t.

You think the Apprentice interviews are harsh?

Check out the 7 toughest interview stories we’ve heard…

1. Sudden Death.

You may have been in a sudden death interview situation before (make one mistake and you’re out).

But this is definitely the worst story I’ve ever heard…

“We were invited to a group interview with about 15 other candidates and as soon as we arrived, we were lined up against a wall and left to wait for 10 minutes.

We were then asked to “say something about the company.” There were “no repetitions allowed” so you basically had to somehow get their attention and/or shout out and hope to get heard first.

Obviously, the earlier you spoke up, the easier (because of the “no repetitions” rule).

If you couldn’t find anything to say, you were sent home there and then. During my interview there were 5 people left, speechless.”

That’s pretty intense – especially if you’re a naturally quiet person.

So the candidates who ended up going home were the ones who did no research (fair enough), the quiet, shy candidates (bit harsh) and those who were just plain unlucky (even harsher).

2. Speed Dating.

Selling yourself to one person is difficult enough, but what about a whole room full of people?

The “speed dating interview” went a bit like this…

“We were taken into a room set up with 5 separate tables and 5 interviewers sat at each.

 Just like speed dating, you rotated around the room and were given 10 minutes at each desk, to impress each interviewer. They all had different things to assess, like skills, personality and experience and they marked you out of five.

When the (loud) bell rang, you moved on.

At the end of the interview, they revealed “how you did” in front of everyone.”

Wow – that sounds pretty horrendous to me.

3. Judge Me.

If you’d like to assess the honesty and fairness of a candidate, whilst also improving your own skills, then you could ask them to critique you!

“After a 20 minute chat, the interviewer told me I had 10 minutes to write a formal review of her interviewing skills, with a mark out of ten.”

Ok, so the person was interviewing for an HR role, but seriously, this is just cruel.

So what can you do?

  • Be too harsh and you’ll piss off your interviewer.
  • Be too kind and you’ll look like a wimp.

You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

4. Shake It.

Oh my goodness…

“I was flown to Florida for a 2-day job interview. About an hour after I arrive on the first day, I was taken to an all-staff meeting for an “exciting” announcement.

Surprise! The marketing department has decided to make a Harlem Shake video!!! Everyone was required to participate…” Life Hacker 

What would you do? Run for the hills!

5. The Big Event.

It’s actually quite a nice idea to invite candidates to an event you’re attending, so they can get to know your team and learn a little more about what you do. Right?

“I got invited to an event that a potential employer was attending to see how well I’d ‘fit into the team’ which I actually thought was a great, fun idea.

But when I actually turned up, there were 2 staff members in attendance and I was asked to join them on their stall, selling their services. The potential employer never showed up.

I spent hours selling a company I knew very little about and having to ask my potential co-workers for help with pricing, structure and how everything worked. I looked completely incompetent (bearing in mind that I hadn’t applied for a sales position)!

The worst bit is; they never actually hired me for the job. So I basically just did a day’s unpaid work for them!”

Bit harsh, right?

6. Limbo

You know Caribbean food chain, Turtle Bay?

Well, according to HR Grapevine, when they opened up a new restaurant in Derby, they were after staff with a very specific set of skills – Limbo skills to be precise.

Imagine attempting to limbo in your interview gear?

I’m guessing it’s more about revealing your personality than your actual ability to limbo…but who knows? Sometimes employers just want it all.

7. The Ghost Town.

This is one of my own and genuinely, it was one of those moments where I worried for my life.

“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.”

Ok, so you’re probably thinking I should have given up and gone home after the first couple of warning signs, but I was young, excited about the prospect of getting a new job and had travelled for an hour and half to get there.

Confession time!

If you have any weird and wonderful stories that can rival these (from either side of the table) then please do let us know in the comment box below!

And any candidates out there who find themselves in these kinds of situations, remember, recruitment is a two-way street so if they’re treating you badly at this stage, you may just want to consider whether you want a job with that company anyway!

It might just give you a glimpse into the future.

Recruiter Pro Tip

At Coburg Banks, we definitely don’t believe in scaring candidates senseless.

We find that putting a candidate at ease works much (much) better during an interview.

Why? Check out this blog post to find out: 7 Ways to Make Your Candidates Feel Comfortable During an Interview

Want to read more?

If these made you laugh and you want to read more, check out the following hilarious stories…

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Happy Friday folks.

- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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