The worst job interview you have ever attended? Were there any lessons learned?


Not my own experience but a nasty little trick played a number of times by a hotel near here.
Job appears in paper or on line from hotel seeking a chef and waiting staff.
Various people apply and a few get a telephone interview followed by the request that as the job is hands on would they be prepared to come in for a few hours to demonstrate their skills.
This would be the night of a large function when the hotel had the need of agency staff but why pay agency staff when you can get prospective employees to do it for free while showing their skills off.
Had a telephone interview where I was offered the opportunity to work on a trial basis for 30 days. Obviously with no IT phone, guarantee of work etc I told them to poke it
I was sent to down to that there London by an agency who assured me that the interview was a formality as the client liked my CV so much.

At the interview it becomes obvious that they've not read my CV, if at all seen it, as they're asking basic questions about info that is on there (School, Uni, home location etc)

It when they started asking about my proficiency in various programming languages - of which I have none - the penny dropped. I was the external candidate that was included in the recruitment list, just so they could claim to have done due diligence before offering the job to the son of the Finance Director.

Still, expenses were paid, and I had a telephone interview on the way home for another job which I got on the strength of the telephone interview alone.


When fresh out of the Army and scratching around for a career, I answered an advert (IIRC from the OA) seeking ex-officer type to become the marketing and business development manager for a chain of luxury hotels HQ'd in Malaysia. The position was to be based in KL or Singapore; very nice indeed.

I was interviewed by a panel from the headhunting/recruitment company. Despite having no background yet in marketing, with a bit of common sense and thought I was able to sketch out a specimen strategy that impressed the panel. I was well travelled in the Asian target region. They were very happy with my presentation, appearance, gravitas and bearing.

Although the client ID was still withheld, I was informed that I was short-listed and likely to be made an offer. The next step was for me to attend a short marketing seminar at a prestigious address in London.

I duly presented myself at the address the following day at 0845, was directed to a large conference room, opened the door, and found:

... a cold-call telemarketing operation. Rows of desks, each with a telephone, notepad and phone number list. Perhaps 40 people at the desks.

"I think i am at the wrong location?" I enquired. "No, here is your name on the list. Here is your desk. You get £x (peanuts) for each successful sale. Get cracking."

WTF? What a bizarre experience. There was no overseas job, nor indeed any management position at all. The whole advert and interview process was some sort of sham in order to recruit people for this wretched telesales operation. The only very tenuous link to the original job was that the cold-calling was to try and sell hotel hospitality services to random businesses.

The contacts at the recruitment company later hung up on me when I called, so it was all a quite deliberate scam.

Funnily enough, before I told the telesales room manager to take his operation and youknowwhatit, I did actually decide to sit down, give it a try, and add it to my rich life experience (along with fruit-picking, dustbin collection, private eye, bodyguard and pimp, plus a few others). Instead of trying to sell the product, I chatted to the targets (MDs, CEOs, FDs, etc), told them the story, had a laugh with them, and suggested that they string along any of my "colleagues" that might call in future.

Funnily enough#2, a few months later I was the new operations manager of a certain business. At 0900, the phone rang, and, guess what the call was about? It was my colleagues from that conference room. "Would i like to join a privileged club which...., etc?". I managed to keep that call going for about 20 minutes by asking the most bone questions imaginable, trying not to let the cold-caller overhear the giggling from the two other ex-mob at my end of the line..
Ive been told I can do that with a look, nice to know that its a skill I have refined. Some get it, others wonder why I say nothing and let them hang themselves.
In my current position and my previous 8 years with another company, I often find myself on both sides of the interview table, as an interviewee I have witnessed and been subjected to a lot of what has been said here, it has taught me a lot about interviewing technique, things like turning your phone off whilst interviewing (I always leave a voicemail explaining I am interviewing), long pauses push people to talk, people hate silence so will talk into it to avoid it, often saying far too much and dropping themselves in it. Always have your questions set prior to interview and never wing it. Avoid talking too much and only offer information when asked, let people talk and listen. Treat an interview as exactly what it is, a short conversation about someone and expect them to embellish and lie, if the person turns out to be a wrongun, don't be surprised. Always add technical questions about the role and interviewees past experience, if they are bluffing they will be exposed.
Avoid stupid questions like "If you were a Disney character, which one would you be and why?" Yes, I've been asked that one by a so called HR Manager!
Actually two I can't decide which was the worst. In the late 1990s I went for a job interview at a nearby prison. As usual I presented myself at the gates 10 minutes before the time I had been told to. I was promptly told I was too early and I should re-appear 10 minutes later. So I went back to the Road and sat in the bus shelter. When I returned I was shown through several doors to the interview room. Oh I thought you had left was the first comment..No I was told to I replied already aware I was wasting my time. That was followed by 10 minutes or so of the interviewers telling me what a bad job it was and how there was no prospect of promotion. The only question I can recall was them asking if I would be alright patrolling the walls ... at night...on my own! I told them I'd done plenty of guard stints. Never heard anything.


War Hero
As I finished my policing career I applied for a security manager at a locally based university with an international footprint.
I submitted my CV and asked to meet with the manager the post reported to, to ensure the post and I were a good fit for each other.
I got an incredibly effusive welcome, he had read the CV, thought I was just the chap, asked if I had any knowledge of CT and Prevent, you do, outstanding. He couldn't, quite rightly, guarantee me the post but he could guarantee I would be interviewed as he was doing the paper sift and my skill set and knowledge were exactly what they needed.
The interview would be chaired by him supported by HR and would be fair and transparent.
I tracked my application on the Uni's fair and transparent recruitment site where you can follow it at every stage.
The paper sift date came and went, my form wasn't sifted.
I phoned HR. They couldn't understand it as the interviews had taken place the day before and there was no sign of my form having been sifted, passed or failed. They put me through to the manager I had met previously.
He was very much on edge this time and put the phone down to close the door so we could speak privately.
Well, what it is jmb is that I knew your form was outstanding and you were a shoe in, so what I did was keep you as my back up in case I couldn't find the right candidate and interviewed the rest.
I found out later his mate had got the job.
What he did was interview his mate in front of HR with some no hopers for cover and gave his mate the job. All appeared above board and HR were none the wiser.
I think there may have been several candidate forms "held back".
The guy who got the job was a dud and some downsizing followed. Manager and dud kept their jobs at others expense though.
Not a place I would have enjoyed working and ultimately glad I didn't.
I looked elsewhere and ended up working on better terms and conditions at a place I am happy to be.
The tosser managers time will come.
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Then there was an internal interview in the civil service. After 2 decades there I'd been on various projects and had been on temporary promotion for years. As I walked in the room I knew I was screwed. I was also a union rep and as I'd been in lots of offices unlike the other candidates. The 3 senior managers sitting behind the desk were all individuals I had crossed swords with in the past a couple of them had been stand up arguments. This partly lead to me leaving the civil service within a year. The one who got promoted... wore a short skirt went to dinner with the regional manager and as I later found out had been barred from promotion after mis-conduct. They say you are what you drink and I'm a bitter man.


War Hero
I had a painful interview process at a UK bank about ten years ago. It was a hybrid role (PM/BOA) on a project to get a grip of their PMO resources across their portfolio of projects and programs. 6 months with aim to go permanent.
I had just done a similar role at another bank so knew the ins and outs of the problems and the possible workable solutions. All was going well until one of the panel accidently drops "after 3 months we will be off shoring this, most likely to India". This was followed by them mega back peddling for the remaining of the interview, ending in "Please don't mention this to anyone...".
They knew I had a young family and was aiming for a long-term contract/perm role and I already had an offer of a 12 monther in the back pocket, so I was surprised when I got a call from the agency in the afternoon offering we the job at £350 pd. I politely turned them down and told them I had taken the other job.

Then the agency phones the next day and offered me £400 pd, I politely turned them down.

Then the agency phones again the following day, offering £450 and the agent was being really pissy about me not taking the role. I politely turned them down.

The following week the agent called again, offering £500 pd and was fuming that I was not taking the role. Full on bunny boiler.
It was the only time I have been stalked by an agency to take work, normally it is the other way around.

The best interview I had was for a project co-ordinator role when I was 21, I spent 45 minutes just staring at, and talking to, the managers massive breasts, they where beautiful, round and bouncy when she laughed.
I got the job.


Kit Reviewer
Reviews Editor
Internal job interview in the police where the ******** CI stared out the window watching the snow the whole time and the ******** Insp. Who wasn't interested.

Nepotism in the police is a thing, and it means because they have to advertise and interview, you waste your own time for a job that they've already picked their mate for.


If they wanted to do it properly, completely anonymous with a civilian team interviewing.


Book Reviewer
I worked for Shell [not a great bunch of lads] when the company wanted to get rid of 20% of the staff. I was interviewed for an internal position as pilot plant manager, a job then being done by someone who was both well qualified and a decent bloke.

After the interview with a senior manager I was asked by the interviewer what my thoughts were.

I replied:
Well George, you know I can do the job perfectly well, and I know I can do the job, but we both know that the bloke who is currently doing the job is well suited to the role and it would be a travesty if I got the job in front of him and I don't believe for a moment that I'm going to get it over him. So, I reckon I'm being used as a stalking horse so that the company can say that they have done competitive interviews for the role.

George replied:
I can't possibly confirm what you've said but I can say that your analysis of the situation is excellent.

I had another interview with a major chemical company via an agency. When I arrived at the site, I was told that the role that I had arrived to be interviewed for had been filled internally and that they were going to interview me for another role [which I had no interest in]. I agreed to go ahead with the interview as I was there but with commented that I did not feel prepared for this.

The miserable fvckers could not even get me a cup of coffee as their machines cost 10p per cup and none of the cvnts would cough up 10p for me. I had no change at all with me, so I ended up with a cup of water.

The interview went quite well in that they liked me and my qualifications and experience, that was up until the point where I got to read the full job description [which I'd not seen up to that point] and told them that I wasn't interested in the job,that I was underwhelmed by their crappy HR department, their organisation was dreadful and if this was the type of treatment that they gave interviewees then I didn't want to work for them regardless of salary and they could stuff it where the sun didn't shine.

The engineering manager who was interviewing me was taken aback by my criticism!
All of this and more is why after jacking in my last job, I just got sick of corporate BS, I decided to try my hand at contracting. I have a short (4-5 month) role starting on 14th Jan. The interview process was straightforward and lightning fast compared to my experiences in the permy world. The daily rate is what I consider to be a good one to start off with and once I get the hang of the contracting world hopefully I will pick up more like this.

I have no concerns about the permy safety blanket anymore and short term contracts are fine too. The agency were very keen to explain the short term and I guess that might be because others like longer term security, that holds no fear for me so hopefully there will be more like this to come.

I have no mortgage or other debts and so this just seems a good way forward for me. The contract is to manage a critical risk that has been identified and put some processes in place to manage whatever it is I will put in place. I quite like this idea, a specific task to complete and that is it. No performance management or team building weekends up a mountain somewhere for me.

Also I will pay for and therefore pick whatever training I want/need. Trying to get that as a permy is like trying to get blood out of a stone.


Book Reviewer
Another classic from my past:

When i first went contracting about 30 years ago, one of the agencies wanted to interview me. An evening interview was duly arranged as it was convenient for the interviewer & saved me taking time off.

At the interview the smarmy agency tw4t spent 99% of the time telling me how great the agency [Morsons if you're interested] were, and how they would find me loads of jobs in no time. I did however, get across that I wanted a job within commuting distance of where I lived.

I didn't hear from them for almost 2 years when they rang me up and offered me a job in Saudi....

Then 12 months later they rang again and offered me a job in Singapore...

Finally the prick who had originally interviewed me rang. Conversation went:

"Hi mate, how are you doing?"
Fine thanks, who's speaking? [I knew exactly who it was, as I wan't likely to forget the slimy tw4t]
"It M...H... from Morsons"
Oh, hi Mike. Haven't heard from you for over 3 years.
"Really, oh, well, we've got a job..."
Stop right there. In the last 3 years I've had great service off 2 other agencies. More to the point the only times you've rung me are for foreign jobs when I specifically told you I wanted commuting distance from home.
"Oh, really?"
Yes. So fvck right off and don't ring me again.

Phone put down.
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I used to work for Morsons as temp filling one of their own internal staff roles, strange fish, they had a perm tole come up with a client and made it clear that my job was ending with them if I didn't fill the role myself as the client knew me. It was the worst 11 months of permanent I had ever taken.
The worst one? Hard to say as there have been numerous dire places/interviewers I have faced. Being interviewed in a coffee shop (not for a job there, just the interviewer hadn't arranged office space) for someone who was clearly a moron from the outset ranks though.

Having decided early on this was not for me we got to a part where she asked me about presenting solutions to senior management. I mentioned that I would have a few options with pros/cons costs etc. and make a recommendation. She then asked "what if they tell you to choose another option?" I got what she was after but thought I would be awkward, "if I am directed to a different option then that won't be my choice will it?" I responded. This annoyed her which was good, she was unable to articulate what she really wanted and this matter went around in circles for a while before I left.

Other than that LSEG and Barclays, both interviewed me (went through three stages at LSEG, four if you include the agency) only to be told afterwards (and this took months for LSEG to advise) the jobs did not actually exist!!!!

...and another one just in that I had interviewed for a while back, this time from another city institution. What is it with these people?

"Happy New Year 2019!
I am coming back to you further to our conversation about the Incident Management and Business Continuity role you applied for with Bloomberg.

The Managers of the department thought that your profile was very interesting and they would have invited you for a face to face interview but I was told today that they have decided to move the role to New York for the time being and won't recruit in London anymore.

I am very sorry not to have better news but I just wanted you to know that we liked your profile and experience and would consider you again should we have another opening.

Thanks again and have a nice evening".
...and another one just in that I had interviewed for a while back, this time from another city institution. What is it with these people?

"Happy New Year 2019!
I am coming back to you further to our conversation about the Incident Management and Business Continuity role you applied for with Bloomberg.

The Managers of the department thought that your profile was very interesting and they would have invited you for a face to face interview but I was told today that they have decided to move the role to New York for the time being and won't recruit in London anymore.

I am very sorry not to have better news but I just wanted you to know that we liked your profile and experience and would consider you again should we have another opening.

Thanks again and have a nice evening".

I blame Brexit.
Went for an interview for a contract position, 200 mile return trip.
It became apparent that it was for a permanent position which I had no interest in. Told that was end of interview then. I demanded and got expenses as they were to blame. Paid when it became obvious that I wasn't leaving the chief engineers office without it.

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