As someone who's been fairly inconsistently employed for the past decade or so, I've had my fair share of awkward job interviews.
Fortunately, they didn't disappoint — here are some of the most cringeworthy, laughable, and in some cases, completely inappropriate responses I got:
1. "My job hunt post-school was going kind of terribly. I was interviewing for a property management job, and the interviewer asked me about my internship at Adult Swim. I explained to her what it was. She told me she really hated that show about the 'strawberry on the floor.' I finally figured out she was talking about Aqua Teen, and Meatwad was the 'strawberry.' I didn’t get the job."
2. "The interviewer *forgot* me. Her assistant put me in a room and said the interviewer would be with me in a few minutes. Cut to 30 minutes later, and I was still sitting there twiddling my thumbs. I had enough and got up to leave, and as I walked out, I passed the interviewer coming in with a bag of food. We locked eyes, and I could see the realization dawn on her face when she recognized me from my CV. She tried to make an excuse, but kinda doesn't work when she's clutching a fresh coffee from Starbucks and a bag of food."
3. "I was looking for a second job to help pay down some debt. I stuck to what I knew: coffee and food. I applied at a new coffee place just opening, and I actually got called the next day to come in for an interview. So I enter, and they are shaking hands with some guy already. Two men, the owner of the entire block and the manager, escorted me outside with my résumé in hand, led me to a table, and started asking me questions, but weren't really paying attention to anything I was saying. They kept looking at each other nervously; the owner of the block was just rocking in his chair whistling (really?), and the manager kept dodging eye contact. The penny finally dropped, and I just looked at them both and said, 'You hired that guy before me, didn't you?' Neither said anything, so I just got up and left. It was super awkward throughout. At least have the balls to tell me instead of wasting my time! They only lasted six months."
4. "This is a recent bad experience. I signed up for an online interview which was going to be conducted on an online platform such as Zoom. I get logged in, and there is nothing. I wait because I think, maybe the interviewer is running behind. In fact, I even call the office to ask if everything is okay after sending an email to double-check that I’m not being blown off. The entire interview time comes and goes, and there is nothing. The office person never got back to me about why the boss isn’t available, and there was no communication at all from the company."
"A week later, after I assume that this company has moved on and that they definitely don’t have their ducks in a row, I get a text message, in ALL CAPS, telling me to reschedule the interview because the interviewer was sick. In fact, the interviewer's whole family was sick. No apology, no realistic explanation of why I was blown off. It was a hard pass from me. I blocked the number and the company because I don’t want to work for them."
5. "I was interviewing for a secretary position at a middle school, and the principal asked me to describe 'a typical middle school student.' I thought for a moment and couldn’t come up with a single positive thing to say. It was clear to both of us that I should not work with middle schoolers."
6. "I misunderstood the job posting, so I was answering questions like they were talking about a different job. Pretty far into the interview, I asked a question that made it obvious we weren’t talking about the same job, and the interview ended shortly after that."
7. "It was my first ever job interview. I was interviewing at a deli in a grocery store. The interview was going fine until the interviewer asked me how I handle raw chicken. I proceeded to explain how I handled raw chicken at home. I could see the interviewer getting more and more confused, and when I was done with my answer, he said, 'No, I meant how do you feel about handling raw chicken? Does it bother you?' and I realized he was asking because of the rotisserie system and not whether or not I knew how to clean up after raw meat touches a kitchen surface."
"I didn't get the job, but I did learn to get clarification on questions in an interview if they're too vague."
8. "I was the interviewer, and one candidate 'passed' on three of five questions. I was dumbfounded."
9. "Probably the one where I knew what the salary was supposed to be beforehand, because my then-husband had reached out to ask about the job before telling me about it, and then, the interviewer offered me 80% of that amount because I'm a woman. That was quite awkward and not a fun conversation."
10. "Very young and innocent me answered an ad in the newspaper for what I now know is door-to-door sales. Clue #1 should have been when the interview was taking place in a motel room. Clue #2 (which did penetrate my teenage brain) was when they wanted to offer me a different job, and asked me to try on lingerie. I noped out of there so fast, I still have burn marks on my heels 30+ years later."
11. "I was interviewing for an internship when I was a sophomore in high school. The guy was a friend of my dad's and invited both parents to come to my dinner interview. The guy asked me about my political views, and because I was parroting my parents at that point, I said that I was conservative. After me defining my 'conservative views,' he asked if I was a virgin. My dad actually sat there waiting for me to answer. I didn't take the internship."
12. "I was just out of college and having a hard time figuring out exactly what I wanted to do with my life, but just needed a job to make money in the meantime. So, I interviewed for a receptionist job at a therapist's office. I interviewed with the actual therapist himself, and it was so strange. He spent most of the interview telling me about him and his wife and how they made their marriage work, and also asked if I was married (which you definitely are not supposed to ask) and proceeded to give me all this unsolicited advice on it. I walked out like WTF just happened? Obviously, didn't take that job."
13. "The CEO showed up to the interview 45 minutes late and in sweatpants. He said that they had a person off-site who was sick that we would have to drive a replacement 45 minutes away. The replacement sat in the front seat, as I continued answering questions from the backseat. On the 45-minute drive back (I got to move to the front seat!), he asked me what I thought of the music. Turns out, it was his wife's EP. She had done some time on 2000s reality TV, and apparently was trying to pivot to music. ... The EP was 20 minutes long, and the songs were about getting sweaty on the dance floor and railed."
14. "Once I applied to an entry-level job at a cat clinic, because I love cats. I hadn’t worked in a veterinarian office before, so I wasn’t feeling confident I’d get the job but figured I’d go for it. I did not expect it to be the most intense job interview I’d ever go to. The vet was very stern and kept asking personal questions like why I had moved so much as a kid, what my family was like, etc. And then, asked how I would respond to having a dying cat in my arms and how I’d explain to a family their cat had died. Granted, those are realistic situations I hadn’t thought about. So, at this point, I’m sweating, and then, she goes on to ask my religious views and if I thought cats go to heaven. By the end of it, she told me to exit through the left door, and I was so nervous I went through the right and had to go back through the room to go out the correct door. I did NOT get the job."
15. "I interviewed at a veterinary clinic that did not disclose in their ad that the job was more of an 'internship' rather than an associate position, meaning they intended to pay minimum wage for a veterinarian position. While interviewing me, the owner said, 'Everything you do will be supervised: You will not make medical decisions without my approval, and you will not pass gas without permission.'"
"It was a hard pass."
16. "I was looking for a serving job because I wanted to change from my retail position. A Buffalo Wild Wings was opening soon in my town, and I thought that would be a great place to apply. I go in for the interview, and there are other people also waiting to be interviewed. I assumed we'd get taken in one by one, but NOPE! They ushered all of us into a small room, sat us down at individual tables, each with our own interviewer, and boom, the interviews start. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I had severe undiagnosed ADHD and sensory issues I wasn't aware of, so as soon as everyone started talking at once, I completely lost my mind. My interviewer was asking questions, and I couldn't think straight. I couldn't speak, and if I took too long answering a question, they'd move onto the next so fast. I ended up sobbing, and my interviewer had to escort me out of the room."
"They were real sweet after the fact and sat with me until I calmed down but then said to me 'maybe serving isn't for you.' Yeah, no shit lol."
17. "I was applying for a job as an educational aide at a preschool for kids with developmental disabilities. I had eaten a bagel before the interview to get something in my stomach as I was nervous. The lead teacher took me around the playground and different classrooms in the school. As we get to the older classroom, I am starting to feel dizzy. The next thing I know, I am laid out on one of the nap mats. I had passed out, likely due to low blood sugar. The lead teacher gave me a cup of juice and a snack. I thought there was no way in hell that I would get the job, but a few days later, I was offered the position."
"Later, I asked the teacher why she hired me. She said that after I came to on the mat and had some juice and food, I looked at her and said, “So, tell me more about your program” and asked good questions. She said that anyone who can keep their shit together through something like that has what it takes to work with special needs kids."
18. "I was interviewing for a teaching position at an elementary school, and during the interview, the principal FELL ASLEEP. I had thought the interview was going well until that point — we were having an active and engaging conversation. I remember just sort of sitting back, stunned and waiting for him to say 'just kidding' or something! He woke up suddenly (he really was only asleep for about a minute?), but never acknowledged it. He quickly ended the interview; they offered me the job, and then rescinded it before I could accept it — without any warning or explanation (which ended up being a good thing, because I naively would have taken the job!)."
19. "Not so much during the interview, but after. There was this huge glass pane next to the door, and as I reached for the doorknob, I ran smack dab in the middle of it! I'm talking that hard smack when you head goes flying back. The hiring committee saw, as did the other candidates."
"Despite this embarrassing blunder, I got called in for a second interview and was offered the job, which I declined. It was an awful pyramid scheme under the guise of being a 'wonderful entry-level marketing' position."
20. "It was a rainy, cold, and dreary day. I was tired and feeling defeated already after job searching for months with nothing to show for it. On my way to the interview, I passed by a high school when I came upon an extremely low fence, decided to do a jaunty jump over it, and face-planted into the muddy ground in front of maybe 700 16- to 18-year-olds ending their school day. Got to the interview, and for some reason, didn't feel comfortable offering information on why I was all muddy if the interviewer didn't ask; he didn't. So, sitting there answering ridiculous questions covered in cold rain and mud, I suddenly got the strongest deja vu, racked my tired brain, and 20 minutes in, realized I've interviewed with the same guy for the same job maybe six months prior. He seemed to have no recollection of me. So, he picked me out based on my application two times."
"I did not get the job the first time and also not the second."