Interview fails

Interview fails
Marie Ryan

Marie Ryan


If you’ve ever conducted an interview, you have great stories to tell. We scoured the web for the biggest interview fails. Reddit did not disappoint. This post includes applicants who told obvious lies and applicants who were too honest!


  • We had a lady who said she was proficient in Microsoft Office on her resume but when asked she referred to it as Windows Accelerate" and "Windows Word". Yeah, she didn't get hired.
  • I was part of an interviewing panel not too long ago. We had a candidate who looked great on paper, but as soon as we started asking questions their resume swiftly fell apart. They couldn’t talk about the experience they claimed to have, and the experience they could talk about wasn’t relevant. It was obvious they embellished their resume.
  • An interviewee claimed to be a principal engineer on a project that I worked QA on. He was a very junior member of the team. He didn't remember me, so I kept asking really specific questions about problems he had created. The light finally went off, so he collected his things and left saying nothing.
  • I managed technical writers several years ago. I had one guy ask me in a phone interview, "So... what is technical writing?".
  • We were hiring a Spanish translator. She brought her son with her to translate the questions for her. Sadly he wasn't looking for a job though.
  • I was interviewing a guy who had skills listed in his resume that he clearly didn't have. As we started trying to gauge his skill level. He started yelling at us and accusing us of trying to push him as far as we could to watch him break. These were simple technical questions 100% relevant to the job he applied for.
  • We gave a simple coding puzzle to a dude who was interviewing for a senior level job. It should have been a breeze for a well-qualified candidate. Instead, the dude asked the interviewer, "how would you solve the problem? wouldn't you just use Google?". The interviewer responded, "well this is a coding puzzle, I'd like to see how you go about solving it." The interviewee responds, "I'd use Google to find the answer." The interviewer said "thank you, that's the last question we have for you today."
  • Guy claimed to be an expert in a specific technology. When questioned about it and asked to whiteboard details, he kept stalling and couldn't answer.

Interviewer: "Are you doing ok? Can I get you anything? Diet coke, maybe?"

Candidate: "Diet coke sounds great."

Interviewer: [calls secretary] "Secretary, please get this guy a diet coke and get him out of here."

  • A candidate called to tell us she’d be late for an interview because of a flood. She said the flood should be over by 3:00 pm. I thought the timing was very specific. She forgot I was in the same area and could clearly figure out there were no floods.

Too honest

I interviewed an older woman with terrible grammar. "I don't know nothing about that but I reckon you can teach me. If y'all can give me a computer for my house I can learn how to use one. I just need a job so I'll start tomorrow." I asked a candidate “Can you tell me more about your responsibilities in company x?". She said "Oh, yeah, I was just too lazy to put it on there." An interviewee said "I'm only here because I’m unemployed and my wife said I had to.” I was interviewing someone to work with us. We asked pretty standard questions. It got to “What do you think your biggest weakness is?” Her response was “Well, I have really bad anger issues with customers. I also tend to gossip a lot.” We wrapped up pretty quickly after that. Our manager had a lady come in to interview for an accounting manager position and asked if her embezzlement record would be a problem.

  • My son, who set up a window-washing business while he was in college, interviewed a young woman who, before he could ask her anything, said "I don't wash windows".
  • I was asked "how would your previous employer describe you?" My answer was "considering I successfully sued her, probably not well." 
  • A candidate once told me that their long-term plans included quitting and starting their own competing business.
  • Not an interview, but at one job there was a guy who missed one of his first days of work without notice because he "had to go to his court mandated anger management course."
  • I was interviewing a candidate for a job. When asked why they had left their previous job, they took that as an invite to complain about how they had been mistreated. 
  • I was in a group interview and one of the interviewers asked us what animal we would be and why. The girl next to me said a sloth because they don't have any responsibilities and don't have to do anything.
  •  I had a woman for a teaching position. At the last question she made an off joke about the kids she would be working with and referred to them as "little shits." 
  • Me: "What is something you did not like about your last job?" Interviewee: "Having to work hard."
  • There are two standouts. One candidate asked "How often do we get paid?" another said "my old manager hated me, that's why I quit".
  • We were interviewing for a position which would involve a lot of travel. The candidate asked me how important travel was. I replied that it was the cornerstone of the whole position. They said “yeah, but I have a cat...”
  • At the end, we asked the standard "Do you have any questions for us?" and he paused, confused for a moment, then asked "Yeah, did I get the job?" He did not get the job.
  • Interviewing for a contract programming position, one of my colleagues asked, "what do you think you could do for our team if we hired you?". He sat for a short while, pulled a "hm..."you know, I really don't know."

Watch our demo

Hiring Pipeline

Arrange a product tour today and start using
recruiting software that helps you find and hire
the best candidates.

Read also

Company logo for Life Credit Union

“HireHive makes the team a lot more productive. We’d be lost without it. Team Leaders can do it all themselves if needed or jump in at the right time and know exactly where everything is and what’s happening.”

Profile of Hilary Dempsey

Hilary Dempsey Head of HR at Life Credit union

Join over 2,000 companies who streamlined their hiring process with HireHive