Interviews are notoriously stressful – not just for the job candidate, but for the interviewer as well. A lot goes into choosing the right questions, asking them at the right time and not giving away any nerves. The candidate likely won't notice, though, as they are nervous themselves, overthinking their answers and wondering when their hands will stop sweating. But sometimes, interviews can be downright weird. We've gathered the weirdest job interview stories from job candidates and hiring managers alike.
Still a mystery
"I worked in radio and TV news for 25 years before moving to the dark side (PR). In the early 1990s, I interviewed for either a reporter or news director job (I can't remember) at a small but very successful radio station in west-central Ohio. In fact, I believe I drove there for three separate interviews.
The mentor at my college radio station, WMUB Radio, in Oxford, Ohio (Miami University), later told me that the station owner called him a second time to ask about me. My mentor raved about me, my news judgment, writing, work ethic, etc. Before hanging up, the station owner said, 'Well, this sounds great. I think I've made my decision.'
But I didn't get the job. Fast-forward approximately a year later and the station owner called me, saying he had an opening and asked me to interview for the job. I did so – and again did not get the job. So, I called him and said, 'Hey, I understand that you're under no obligation to tell me, but I've interviewed for a job at your station four times now and yet you won't hire me. What do I need to improve on so I can perform better in future job interviews?'
His reply: 'You know why you didn't get the job, Tim.'
Me: 'No, I don't. Please explain.'
His reply: 'You know why you didn't get the job.'
And that was that. I crossed paths with him approximately 20 years later when I was in TV, and I was tempted to ask him again, 20 years later, why he didn't hire me. But I didn't." – Tim Livingston
An inappropriate T-shirt
"Your personal appearance in the interview can really be table stakes, but it can also be the cause of a horror story. Couple months ago, a young coder fresh out of high school comes in wearing a vintage T-shirt that says 'Gatorade' on it with the Gatorade logo. But after I looked at the shirt a second time, it was not Gatorade. It said 'GetLaid' with the same logo. I guess it was supposed to be one of those cool ironic shirts that kids these days wear. I tried to wrap it up in less than 20 minutes out of courtesy. Needless to say, we did not hire him." – Zach Hendrix, GreenPal
An excuse planned too well – except for one detail
"A woman showed up 55 minutes late for her interview and slapped a sweating Big Gulp Slurpee on my desk. She told me an elaborate story about how she was caught on the highway behind a horrible accident. She gave the most minute and bizarre details of her ordeal and how she couldn't even get off the road to find a phone to call me. After listening for about 15 minutes, I asked her, 'Didn't they have a phone at 7-11?'" – Phil La Duke, author and global principle consultant
Meeting the wife and dog
"My first real job as an adult was at a motel. I had talked with the manager months prior and told him I'd be looking for a job in September 2016. The interview was so casual, I didn't have a doubt in my mind that the job would be mine. The interview consisted of me filling out an application, meeting the manager and his dog. If the dog didn't approve me, I probably wouldn't have gotten the job.
The manager was thrilled to have someone to take the position and wanted me to come back the next day to meet his wife. They both work as managers and live on the property.
I went back the next day to meet her, and I could tell she was a serious person, in an intense, 'don't cross me' sort of way. She told me no perfume, no jeans, no hoop or dangly earrings, and no makeup. I didn't know that was so unusual during my interview, but it turns out that not only was that super inappropriate, probably illegal – but no other employees had been told the same thing. She also pointed out no low-cut tops and looked at what I was wearing very critically. Nothing was wrong with it, but some people can't ever be happy. It was weird to be interviewed by a married couple and their dog for a job anything other than a pet sitter." – R.S.
A petty interviewer
"A military vet (since retired), I had completed my bachelor's and master's degree and [was] seeking a position where I might help others. My first civilian job that I interviewed for was a social service generalist at the [Department] of Family and Children Services. The interview was going well until the interviewer asked the dreaded 'where do you see yourself in five years' question. Granted, I realized I had to start at the entry level, but with a master's of sociology and a master's of management and human relations, demonstrated job knowledge, and excellent evaluations, I would qualify for the specialist position, which was the next step on the ladder, and said that. I noticed the interviewer looked funny at my reply. Noticing her name tag indicated she was a specialist, I asked how long she had worked there, and how long it took her to be promoted. She answered she had worked at DFS for 14 years and that she had been promoted the past year. Although she asked me a few more questions, I could tell this interview was actually over." – Carol Gee, author
Editor's note: Some stories have been edited for length and clarity.