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Interview Horror Stories: expert tips to navigate a challenging interview

 

Interviewing for a new job is not always an enjoyable experience for job seekers. Interviews can mount on the pressure and make it difficult for you to present yourself in the best possible light – and they don’t always go to plan.

We have sourced some of the most shocking interview horror stories, to show job seekers they’re not alone when their interview turns cringe-worthy. To provide support in times when the interview does go awry, we have also provided top tips to navigate even the most challenging of interviews. Here are 6 of the worst interview horror stories.

 

Lizzi, Social Media Manager from Leeds:

“I went to an interview that was an absolute car crash. After I left I found some keys on the stairs so I went back up to hand them in and heard them slagging me off, so I hid the keys and left.” 

 

Laura, PR Director from Leeds:

“I turned up for my interview and was directed to a meeting room upstairs by a member of the team, who said they were waiting for me in the room. I walked in full of confidence, only to realise I’d walked into the middle of someone else’s interview! I quickly retreated and waited awkwardly outside while the other candidate finished and then walked past me on the way out.” 

 

Holly, HR professional from Brighton: 

“I used to work for an owner of a business who turned up to an interview late, took one look at the (reasonably senior) candidate and then yawned loudly and argued the whole way through the interview.

“When I asked him why he behaved so badly during the interview he said he didn’t like the guy’s eyebrows! I have never been so embarrassed doing an interview before, so eventually, I took the lead, got a lot of eye contact and encouraged the candidate to address me instead.” 

 

Andrew, Director of Sustainable Construction company BuildPass UK based in Winchester:

“I remember having to sing Kylie Minogue I should be so lucky at one! I left my dignity and the job offer at the door! I was fresh out of university interviewing for a sales and marketing role and eager to please, otherwise, I would have walked out.”

 

Lee, Owner of EasyMerchant: 

“We were hiring for one role at my company and I was already running late due to a significant amount of roadworks. 

“I took a detour to try and bypass the traffic and at one T-junction, a couple of miles away from my office, I admittedly jumped out a little hastily which aggravated an oncoming driver who was going faster than he should have been.

“The driver in question proceeded to beep, flash and tailgate me to show his annoyance for the rest of my journey into work until it became clear we had both just pulled onto the site car park. 

“It got more awkward when I got out of the car and he just sat in his. 

“I went inside and a couple of minutes later was told our first interviewee had arrived. Yup – it was him. It was an awkward interview, particularly when I asked him how he managed pressure or stress. And no – he didn’t get the job!”

 

Helen, from the North West: 

I once went to a retail interview in a hotel. When it was my turn, the interviewer beckoned me into the interview room apologising profusely because the conference suite had been double booked. We did the whole thing in a twin room and I had to sit on a bed!” 

 

To help job seekers prepare for their next interview, We have pulled together four helpful tips to follow if your interview turns into an awkward horror story.

 

  •  Have go-to responses prepared for any potentially awkward questions

 

Prepare a few responses to particularly difficult questions you think you could be asked. This will help ease any anxiety you may have leading up to the interview and will help you to stay confident throughout.

If you’re asked about why you want to leave your current role, for example, keep the answer vague and positive towards your progression rather than negative about your current employer or position.

When faced with an unusual question, don’t panic; there’s no right or wrong answer. These types of questions are just a way for employers to see how you react under pressure and how you respond when put in an unexpected situation.

Take a deep breath and think about it for a moment. As long as you don’t get too flustered and respond in a professional manner, you’ll be okay.

 

  • Learn as much as you can about the company and ask questions

 

Do as much research as you can about the people you’re meeting as well as the company and its recent work.

This research will help when asked why you’re interested in the business, while also providing you with good conversation fillers if any awkward silences present themselves.

The employer is looking for honesty and confidence while assessing exactly what you can bring to the business. To help them envision you in the role, adapt any examples of your strengths and interests to match their values or business.

 

  • Practise pausing and breathing

 

When we get nervous or feel uncomfortable, it is often our breathing pattern that gives us away. Getting short of breath when speaking, talking too quickly and filling every silence are clear indicators of nervousness.

Don’t worry about taking a pause to breathe. This will help you stay composed and give you time to consider your answer, which is particularly beneficial if it’s a question you weren’t prepared for.

If you’re worried about pauses seeming awkward, get yourself a glass of water and take drinks where you need a pause to regain your breath.

 

  • Have fun with it 

 

It’s true, the interviewer is looking at your skillset and knowledge to see if you’d be able to do the job well, but they’re also trying to get an idea of your personality to see if you’d be a good fit for the team. 

Be sure to relax and show your personality in both your answers and how you carry yourself. If an interviewer likes your personality and thinks you’ll fit well in the team, you’re already ahead.

 

Andrew Hunter, Co-Founder of Adzuna comments: “Interviews can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember that no one in that room wants you to fail. Remaining calm and professional while showing your personality are the key things to bring to the meeting – but always do as much preparation as you can!

“At Adzuna, we’re passionate about helping people find the right role for them, but we also know how difficult it can be if an interview takes a turn for the awkward or doesn’t go as well as you had hoped. We wanted to share these stories to reassure job seekers they’re not alone, it happens to the best of us – but not to be disheartened when it does!”