Interview Horror Stories

At Henley Careers we’ve heard our fair share of interview horror stories that are fit for a Halloween tale. So this year, we’ve huddled together and mixed a ghastly potion of our top horror stories we’ve heard about from industry recruiters. From tardiness to shocking responses, these are things we recommend you definitely don’t do when applying for a job…

Lost in time

“I once waited over 20 minutes for a candidate to arrive for their first round interview. When they eventually arrived, they gave a very weak apology and said they couldn’t find the office… Even if they were the best candidate, it would’ve been tricky to put them through to the next stage after that!”

Don’t be late and risk turning into a pumpkin. Plan your journey, double check who you’re meeting and try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of your interview. You could even do a practice run in advance of the interview if you are not familiar with the area.

Interpretive dance

“I once had a candidate who decided to answer a question through the medium of dance. Whilst his soft shoe shuffle in his satin blue shirt scored a perfect ten, it was a complete distraction from what was actually quite a good answer.”

Unless you’re auditioning for the Strictly Halloween Special, it’s probably best to stay seated throughout your interview and save your dance moves for another occasion. And when staying seated, be aware of your personal space to avoid this creepy clanger:

“The candidate moved their chair so close to me that I had to physically lean back in my seat, much to the bemusement of my fellow interviewers.”

Don’t swear or be unprepared

“I did once have a candidate who swore in an interview,” said one recruiter. “Whilst I wasn’t personally offended, it was crass and so I had to mark the candidate down for impact.”

Take a breath, sip some water and think before you speak to avoid such a calamity.   

“I interviewed a candidate once who clearly hadn’t read the job description and it was a complete waste of her time and mine. After awkward pauses and the candidate making things up, I simply skipped a huge chunk of questions to finish the interview early.”

Interviewers want you to have researched the organisation and have a clear idea of how you’d add value, so make sure you know the role inside out to avoid your interview being cut off!

Being rude to the receptionist

Remember that you’re being assessed all the time, even in a social setting and perhaps by people who you might not think are even there as part of the selection process: “We bring candidates in for lunch with the team to assess how they respond in a networking situation. I saw one candidate making themselves a little too comfortable by sitting on a table, swinging their legs and playing on their phone.” Another said: “We ask the receptionist for feedback on what the candidates were like upon arrival and you’d be surprised how many candidates are rude.”

Don’t get freaked out if you’ve got an interview coming up. Just book an appointment with one of our Careers Consultants or attend one of our employer events to slay any fears!

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