Mistakes can be valuable life lessons, and it’s entirely possible to learn from mistakes that aren’t necessarily your own.

Sometimes people ace their interview — and sometimes they mess up so badly that it needs to be shared on the Internet. We searched 'the front page of the Internet', Reddit, and found eight of the best '“job interview gone wrong”' stories from all types of hiring managers, in the hopes that you'll benefit from the bad interview signs and snafus.

Parental Guidance

We all lean on our parents for support, but please don't bring parental plus-ones to your job interviews. For parents, we know it can be hard sometimes not to lend an overly helping hand and maintain appropriate boundaries, which is why we've written the definitive guide on how not to 'snowplow' your children's interviews.

At my old job, a dude came in for an interview and he brought his mom with him to meet the people he was interviewing with. He said he didn't have a car, so his mom had to give him a ride, which is understandable. But none of us could figure out why he would bring her into the interview room with him.


Big mistake

Sometimes, mistakes happen. In this case, both the interviewer and the candidate were happy to cut things short when it was clear their chat wasn't going to plan.

Interviewed a candidate that was sent to me by a headhunter. It became pretty obvious within about 2 minutes of asking questions that she had pretty much no experience, education, or qualification for the job role.

For interviews, I predefine a series of questions with a scorecard, so that I can objectively compare each candidate, and have documentation in case my selections were ever questioned.

In this case, after about 5 minutes, I stopped the interview, as we had already gone through half of the questions with her receiving the lowest possible score and said that I think she might have been sent to the wrong interview.

She agreed and said she knew she was in trouble as soon as I had finished describing the role at the beginning of the interview, but didn't know what to do. She was actually very happy that I had stopped the interview rather than pushing on through the whole thing.

We wished each other well and I sent her on her way. I later confirmed that the headhunter indeed did screw up and sent her to the wrong interview.


Getting sick

It's smart to skip a face-to-face conversation if you are feeling sick. Any company where you would want to work should be understanding that illness happens, and a serious sickness is a valid excuse for asking to reschedule. Our guide to canceling a job interview will help ensure you don't burn your candidacy, too.

I interviewed a woman for an IT position. A few minutes in she started rubbing one of her eyes. Within a few minutes, it was all red and started to swell.

She kept rubbing at it and rubbing at it.

By the end of the interview, she couldn't see out of the eye at all and a huge whitehead had formed on her eyelid, but the whole time she never acknowledged the problem even though I asked if she was ok.

When the interview wrapped up she tried to shake my hand with the same hand she had been rubbing all over her disease infested eyeball from hell.

I politely declined. She didn't get the job.

— u/tizod

Family affair

If you are lucky enough to have a relative or personal connection at the company where you're interviewing, amazing! You've got a leg up — but nepotism is not a guarantee for any position or role. You still have to do your homework and come prepared to knock the hiring manager's socks off. Hiring an interview coach is one easy way to set yourself up for success and get guidance on the necessary homework you need to do when looking to impress a potential new employer.   

Was hiring for a data-entry position. Candidate was the man-child son of one of our executives, but had a resume that consisted entirely of bartending jobs. While the position was entry-level and no extensive experience was necessary, the fact that he answered every single one of my questions with some variation of 'I just think I'd really like this job' and 'I'm ready for something other than working in bars in New Orleans' did not bode well for him. At no point did he ever ask about what the position entailed or anything else that might have been important for him to know. I suppose he assumed he was a shoe-in because of his dad. He was incorrect.


Dress up

Hiring managers and interviewers are human too, and sometimes they get caught in unexpected situations just like anyone else. Try and keep your cool, even if something seems amiss.

My boss asked me to interview somebody on Halloween. I said, 'I'm dressed like a ninja; can't we do this any other day?' Was told, Nope, do it now.

So I did. Poor nervous dude kept twitching like he thought I was going to hurl a shuriken at him. But he had nothing resembling the qualifications for the job.


The multitasker

Job interviews are a formal setting, not a casual chat with a friend. Eating, drinking, and putting on makeup while talking about yourself in an interview setting are not appropriate ways to demonstrate your ability to juggle multiple responsibilities.

Not a recruiter, but I am a restaurant manager. We were opening a new location and doing interviews. Woman comes in for a management position. During the interview, she reaches into her purse and pulls out a bag from Wendy's and starts eating. The other manager tells her to put it away and she tells him it is okay, she can multitask.


Don't overshare

To the point that job interviews are formal and professional settings: Illegal behavior of any kind, or alluding to illegal behavior of any kind, at a job interview can destroy an amazing first impression. This is the story of how one man ruined his chances of employment by asking the wrong question when the hiring manager asked, “Do you have any questions?”.

I was hiring for a sales position at my company. The guy I was interviewing was going great and he was really good and knew his stuff. I mentally had a plan to call him the next day to offer him a job. As standard procedure, the last question I ask is 'Did you have any questions?' to gain insight and also to obviously answer questions. The guy says 'If I offer you a block of hash, will that give me a foot in the door?' The company has a strict no-tolerance drug policy, so I said 'no thanks' and tossed his resume and interview.


Extra help

We know that the “Do you have any questions for us?” prompt can be one of the most difficult things to tackle in any job interview. Preparing a few questions in advance is unquestionably helpful, but we recommend acting in discretion or memorizing your questions prior to your meeting, rather than what this interviewer did. If you struggle with the right questions to ask when you get this prompt in interviews, coaches can help.

Not an HR Recruiter but done some interviewing. Best one was when we got to the 'have you got any questions for us' portion, candidate said 'oh yeah!' then pulled out a book called 'answering interview questions for dummies', leafed through and went 'ooo, here's a good one!' and asked that. Can't even remember what question candidate asked!


You can't guarantee everything in life will go right 100% of the time, but you can take all the steps necessary to put your best foot forward in every interview. Our sister site, TopInterview, gives you access to professional coaches who will help you upgrade your interview game.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on our sister site, TopInterview.

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