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Funny Job Interview Stories From Across the Digital Industry

Samantha Noble

by Samantha Noble on 8th March 2013

bigstock-Looking for a JobOver the past few years I have interviewed a lot of individuals for digital marketing related roles including SEO, PPC, Social, Analytics and Content. A lot of the time, interviews run pretty smoothly and you get an idea of how the interview is going to pan out right from the very start. However, there have been some occasions where I have interviewed people and some of the things they come out with are shocking!

This got me thinking about the stories that other people in the digital marketing industry have got when it comes to interviews so I reached out to a few of them to get their input. To say I was surprised with some of the stories is an absolute understatement! I just can’t believe some of the things that interviewees have actually said during an interview.

In this post, I want to share some of the stories with you and if you have any of your own that you want to share, please feel free to drop them in the comments section at the end. If you would prefer to be included anonymously, drop me an email using this form.

Firstly, I need to thank the people that have made this post possible. The stories shown in this post are not tied back to the individuals that shared them directly but they have all helped me compile the stories to share with you.

The Contributors

The Stories

The Nut Sack

We asked a person to tell us a bit about herself, she went on about her qualifications and hobbies etc and finished it with an awesome “that’s me in a nut sack” instead of the more obvious “that’s me in a nutshell”. She didn’t even blink when she realised what she said.

The Graduate

University graduate came into the office for an interview and the conversation went as follows:

Company – What do you know about SEO?

Graduate – Well, I know you gotta phone Google every day and tell them where to put your website so I know enough

Safe to say, he did not get the job!

I’m on Tag

I once interviewed this brilliant girl; she was dynamic, educated, top notch. She filled out her application form, no criminal record, no current CCJs, etc. But I asked her to come back the next day to meet our Director to which her response was: ‘Oooh, what time? I’m on tag for aggravated assault so have to be home at 3pm everyday.’

When I asked her why she had filled out her form saying no to all of them she said, ‘Well, everyone lies a bit don’t they?’ I had to pick my jaw off the floor.

Tearjerker in the Sea

I had to let a candidate know they sadly hadn’t got a role and he started crying asking why he wasn’t good enough. I felt so bad I stayed on the phone for over an hour (no joke) giving him interview tips and telling him not to worry, there were plenty more fish in the sea…

Relationship Problems at the Start

We had a guy apply for a job, and then we asked him to submit a completed monitoring form (a confidential form asking about your religious background, which is legally required in Northern Ireland and used to determine if companies have bias in selecting employees). The guy declined to submit the form, and replied saying that “If life taught me one thing it’s that if a relationship starts with problems there is more to come.”

Something tells me he’s not going to find employment in Northern Ireland if he maintains that attitude.

The Slacker

An interview I held featured the classic response to the question, “Why do you want this position rather than promotion you look like you will get within your current team?” The response: “Because it pays more and looks like it’s much easier work and I don’t like working too hard.”

I am so not prepared

When you go for an interview, most people prepare a little bit and would at least know something about the company they are being interviewed by. A guy came in for an SEO role and one of the first questions I always ask is “What do you know about the company?” He replied with “My friend is getting married abroad soon so I haven’t had time to prepare anything for the interview.”

It wasn’t even his own wedding. He did not get the job!

Sour Grapes from a Know-it-all

A candidate came for an interview, and from the first minute we realised we’d made an error asking him to come in. He gave mono-syllabic answers, had no spark or drive at all, and gave nonsensical answers to many questions.

Me – What do you think will be hard about this job?

Him – Eh, nothing really, I’m kinda good at everything.

When we sent him our ‘dear john’ letter, he sent us a snarky email about how we were a crap company and he didn’t want the job anyway.

Gold Fish Lover

We have gold fish in our meeting room which have been part of the company for years. When an interviewee came in and was asked if they had any final questions, they replied with “I don’t have anything really but I would like to know if you have goldfish in every room in the building as I do love goldfish”.

I Heart Ann Summers

The interview was going really well until we asked the candidate to tell us abit about PPC and how AdWords campaigns are run. She thought about this for a while before proceeding to tell us about the Ann Summers Hung Parliament campaign for 10 minutes, going into detail about the different products on offer!

I am a convict…. Get me outta here

By the time the interview finished I already decided I didn’t like the bloke but asked the question “is there anything else you want to ask or say?”

He replied with “I need to leave early on Tuesdays and Thursdays” to which I responded with a simple “Why?”

He replied with “Because I have got to go to my probation as I was convicted of having held and made copies of indecent images of children”.

I was in shock for about a week after the interview finished!

It’s not a Big Issue

10 years ago, I had a job interview at Big Issue HQ. The woman interviewing me told me that their biggest challenge was people thought they were a big organisation with big resources, and they weren’t.

She looked at me expectantly, awaiting my considered thoughts. But pumped up on caffeine, my mind blanked.

My reply: “Perhaps you should call it the Little Issue instead…”

Her glare told me what I already knew: I didn’t get the job.

Alcohol is my Weakness

Interviewer – “Do you have any weaknesses?”

Interviewee – “Alcohol”

The Tea Maker

I answered the question “what do you think you’ll bring to the team” with something like “I will happily make everyone cups of tea.”

The Erotic Movie Maker

In a previous job, I was reviewing CVs, one of which included “erotic movie making” as non-work interests. He got an interview for that reason alone!

I’ll do anything for you…

I was offered a choice of sexual favours, phrased as “a thank-you-for-the-job” in the preliminary chat to the interview. She said “I know you HAVE to give me the job as long as I don’t mess up this interview” (well -known internal hiring preference rules at that time and she was the only remaining internal applicant in the second round of interviews).

Needless to say that counted as messing up the interview! +1 for honesty but that’s not going to get you onto any team where I am responsible for workload you don’t get done. I don’t care if they are D cups and you are uber proud of them, they don’t work for me.

The Car Breakdown

Not in a typical interview situation but I had a candidate break down en route and call me to say they would be late just as I was stuck in a jam getting there myself.

Turns out the cause of the jam was my candidate’s old banger conking out on the slip road – ended up helping push it to the side, calling the recovery truck and interviewing him in my car as we drove to the office.

I feel it’s time to spread my legs… ummmm wings

When I worked in the travel industry, I was interviewing a Modern Apprentice trainee travel consultant aged 19 who worked in a branch. She was applying for a full-time travel consultant position within a call centre. She was the most unbelievably nervous candidate I’ve ever interviewed.

I asked her why she wanted to leave the comfort of a small branch near her home to a large call centre with significantly more commuting.

She replied “Well, the branch is great and all, but they have me making lots of tea and stocking up the brochures on the shelves. I’ve booked quite a few holidays for customers and I just feel it’s about time that I spread my LEGS”

Obviously she meant to say “spread my wings” and this was a Freudian slip – but at the exact same time I was drinking a glass of water.

I spluttered it everywhere and choked. She carried on wittering, completely oblivious to what she’d said.

That’s All Folks

So there you have it, a nice bit of light reading full of hints and tips of things you should avoid saying and doing in job interviews. Always go in with a clear head and a plan of what you want to say. You don’t want to be caught out in a situation that you are not prepared for!

As I mentioned at the start of this post, if you do want to share any interview stories that you have please leave a comment below or alternatively, you can message me using this form so you don’t need to share publicly. I will then update this post as more stories come in.

Image Credit

Looking for a Job – BigStock

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble

Samantha Noble is the Marketing Director at Koozai; having worked within the marketing industry for over nine years, Sam has a plethora of marketing knowledge. With a strong understanding of digital marketing techniques, Sam will be covering all aspects of search and the industry in general.

23 Comments

  • Mike Essex

    Mike Essex 8th March 2013

    You have to feel for some of the candidates who mixed up their words, although glad to see some of them got the job in the end.

    As for some of the ones who lied or … err … offered sexual favours, what were they thinking!

    Reply to this comment

  • Amy Fowler 8th March 2013

    What – are we not supposed to ring Google everyday? :-)

    Reply to this comment

  • Gareth 8th March 2013

    brilliant :) We had a candidate recently who couldn’t find the office (it’s not that hard) – ended up several miles away in the countryside having walked past us twice, and then gave up. Didn’t consult a map beforehand, didn’t consult her smartphone, just gave up & went home…

    Another had her feet up on the desk during the interview (this was in France) saying “I’m just here for the benefits money”.

    And finally, again in France, I was thrown out of the office physically for laughing at the salary they were offering and asking if it was a one-day-a-week job. Moved back to the UK soon after that ;)

    Reply to this comment

  • Harry Gardiner

    Harry Gardiner 8th March 2013

    Fantastic stuff!

    When I was interviewing a girl for an old retail job I used to have, she told me that she didn’t like her old job because they “forced [her] to smile too much”.

    Just the kind of happy-go-lucky attitude we were looking for… :s

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 8th March 2013

      Did she not seem like a very happy person in the interview Harry? Surely smiling at customers is a key requirement if you work in retail, nothing worse than a miserable retail assistant!

      Reply to this comment

  • Jay 8th March 2013

    ha ha ha

    awesome….

    how funny blogpost :)

    Reply to this comment

  • Briony Gunson 8th March 2013

    Ha, I’ve used the “The Tea Maker” response before !

    I’m sympathetic to nervous interviewees though, as I used to be one! I never had any Freudian slips but I did almost cup an interviewer – I reached out to proactively shake his hand as he turned to open the door and my hand proactively met his crotch. Yeah…. That was embarrassing.

    Reply to this comment

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 8th March 2013

    A story that was left via the survey form earlier:

    Recently, I conducted an interview with a person who said they had two years experience. When I asked them that what Google Panda was, they replied “Google panda is one of the Google products through which you can remove your content from search engines…..” I was very surprised considering their experience and I dare not ask them about Google Penguin….!

    Reply to this comment

  • Tom Roberts 8th March 2013

    This is was terrific – definitely got me into that Friday Feeling!

    I’ll share an anecdote of mine from the not too distant past. As a young man leaving university during the peak of the financial crisis, I was applying for work left, right and centre. I applied for an “events conference coordinator” job and was told that they’d like to hold a telephone interview with me soon.

    Said interview came about 5pm on a Friday – aka Pub O’Clock. Popped into my local and was ordering my first with a friend when I got the call. Tried to make myself sound professional (I struggle with this now) but the pub was relatively quiet so I stayed at the bar with my friend and the barman I knew and put it on speaker phone.

    First question popped up: “So – what is it about events conference that gets you excited?”

    I looked at my mate, then at the barman, then at my mate, gave off a big sigh and said “You got me there.” and hung up. Literally nothing excited me about the job!

    I then proceeded to throw my shoes on top of a speedboat later that night, but that’s another story…

    Reply to this comment

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 8th March 2013

    Another cracking job interview story from Paul Madden:

    When my sister was asking someone at an interview “whats your greatest strength” they replied “I can lift a Great Dane over my head?

    Reply to this comment

  • Samantha Noble

    Samantha Noble 8th March 2013

    Another story left on the survey to share:

    “I once interviewed a young guy for an internship in my home town, Genova, Italy.

    He was coming from a regional free web development course and was tightly followed by a tutor. He was polite but a little “weird”, obscure. By pure chance we knew he was “on tag” whilst being investigated for attempting to kill a policeman during the 2001 G8 riots.

    Luckily, his preparation wasn’t good enough and I could take an unbiased decision!”

    Reply to this comment

  • Ross Hammond 8th March 2013

    “So Paul use one word to describe yourself”

    To which he replies “Paul”

    Reply to this comment

  • Iain Bartholomew 11th March 2013

    I’m told that someone else who interviewed for the position I have now answered “Do you know what Panda and Penguin are?” with “Zoo animals.”.

    I also failed to progress through a phone interview with Koozai before I worked here, so I was reading everything in panic trying to see if I recognised myself! I don’t think I made the list though, thankfully.

    Reply to this comment

  • Gabriella Sannino 12th March 2013

    LOLOL Love these…good thing I knew not to sip my coffee while reading these but, now I have to call Google!

    Reply to this comment

  • Vivien 13th March 2013

    Hi Samantha

    Loved your stories! Would it be possible for me to use some of your anecdotes for a Funny Friday news piece that we normally write each Friday as a laugh? This is for the HRM Asia website that focuses on HR-related topics. We will attribute and provide a link to your page. Our website is http://www.hrmasia.com. Do let me know thanks!

    Regards, Vivien

    Reply to this comment

    • Samantha Noble

      Samantha Noble 14th March 2013

      Hi Vivien,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Rather than copying the anecdotes and putting them on your site, would you be able to reference this post and link to it. Would prefer not to have duplicated content :)

      Reply to this comment

  • Lauren 18th March 2013

    Super funny blog post! If you have a chance please take a look at my blog http://theprofessionalinterviewer.wordpress.com I tell stories from the other side of the interview perspective. I’m new to the blogging world, and I’d love some insight!

    Reply to this comment

  • Arianne Donoghue 4th April 2013

    Brilliant post! Love some of the follow-up comments too – particularly the re: lifting a Great Dane over the head! Genius :)

    Reply to this comment

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