The 7 Most Bizarre Job Interviews of All Time
April 30, 2015
Based on a Quora thread: What is the most bizarre job interview you have ever been party to?
I know most recruiters do so many of them, they’ve become nothing more than just another task. But when you think about it, job interviews are an innately strange experience.
Two people who have never met exchange some brief pleasantries and then one is forced to discuss their hopes and dreams, why the company the other person works for is so awesome, their biggest weakness and what type a chair would they be, if they had to be a chair.
The other, meanwhile, says little, as they try to answer a pretty daunting question – do I really want to spend eight hours a day, five days a week with this person?
So what does it take for a situation that’s already weird to be considered truly bizarre? Well, see the real-life stories Quora users shared below:
1. The one where pants were optional
It was technically not a job interview, but an interview with a New York City-based company in 1997 to discuss a potential joint venture/acquisition.
For the meeting, our team flew out to meet the CEO of the NYC company, along with some of his top brass. As it went along, the CEO of the NYC company grew increasingly more passionate and began pacing around the room and excitedly writing on his whiteboard.
After about 30 minutes of pacing, the CEO just took off his pants and conducted the rest of the meeting in his boxers. He never said anything about it, nor did anyone on his team, as he just continued to pace around the office in his underwear and answer questions.
Eventually, he got called out of the office and we asked his second-in-command why he took his pants off. The second-in-command just shrugged and said that the CEO’s pants make a “schoop-schoop” noise when he walks and it drives him crazy, so he has to take them off after awhile.
2. The one where a serious earthquake happened, but we didn’t acknowledge it
In the 1980s, I interviewed at a 300-employee Silicon Valley company run by a CEO with a military background. During our interview in his office, a rather severe earthquake began, but the CEO never acknowledged it.
All the other employees evacuated the building, leaving just the two of us in the office with books flying off bookcases, lights flickering, the whole nine yards. The CEO never flinched. So, neither did I.
A half-hour later the shaking stopped, the people came back into the office and our interview ended, with neither of us ever mentioning that we just sat through a seismic event. A few days later, the CEO offered me the job.
I have to think part of it was because of my ability to handle pressure.
3. The one where I was called one of the ten stupidest Americans
A few years ago, I flew from my home in Boston to interview for a promising job at an emerging Californian tech firm. After interviewing with several VPs at the company, I was brought to a lobby to wait for an interview with the CEO. At this point it was around 4 p.m.
There I sat and waited. And waited. And waited. After 8 p.m., the CEO finally opened the door and called me in for an interview.
During it, he had an alert go off on his phone. “That means you just missed your flight,” the CEO said, as if it was all part of his plan to show off his power. Of course, he was the one paying for said flight.
The next day, I flew back to Boston and a few days after that the CEO offered me a great job with options at the company, which was just about to go public. Largely because of the way he acted in the interview, I turned it down.
How did the CEO respond? He wrote me an email in all caps that read: “I HAVE A LIST OF THE TEN STUPIDEST PEOPLE IN AMERICA. YOU ARE NOW ON THAT LIST. YOU IDIOT.”
The job would have made me a fortune. And yet, I never regretted that decision.
4. The one where I nearly summoned Captain Planet
When I was a senior in college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. My undergraduate major was environmental science.
In the spring, I scored an interview at one the most prestigious law firms in the world. During the interview, the woman I was meeting with glanced up from reviewing my resume and then began ripping it into pieces asking, "as someone who clearly cares about the environment, does this bother you? We waste a lot of paper here and don't really care."
I never became a lawyer.
5. The one where I saved the company (and got fired anyway)
I had an interview for a software engineering job where I was required to do a coding test – pretty typical. What was atypical though was that this “coding test” went on for days, where I received multiple calls per day from the “hiring manager” quizzing me about my code.
Finally, I had enough and I told the recruiter that the company was either going to hire me or put me on retainer. They begrudgingly agreed to hire me.
On my first day, people there were buzzing about a great stockholders meeting they had the day before where the company announced it was now able to interface with a new data set, an important advancement. I realized the code necessary to complete that interface was the code I produced in my “test.”
To top it off, when I was hired I signed a sheet that said within three months they could get rid of me, no questions asked. Three months later, they got rid of me, no questions asked.
6. The one that ended with a marriage proposal
The first interview was strange – hours long, never looked at my resume, and ended with a meal at a Mexican restaurant and drinks. But, it ended cordially enough.
The second interview was the truly weird one. He picked me up in a sports car with a cooler full of beers. Drove me to some random hill hours away in another state to hike.
Halfway into the hike, he found a heart-shaped rock, gave it to me, looked over the horizon and told me “this all could be mine.” Not just the job, but his hand in marriage – after a reasonable dating period, of course. I said I’d think about it.
The next day he called me and asked me what I thought. I told him it wasn’t the right opportunity. “For the job or the relationship?” he asked.
“Both,” I said. Last time I ever talked with him.
7. The one where the mother did all the talking
Shared by Bennett McEwan:
In 2008, I had to hire a large team of analysts quickly, so I conducted a fair share of interviews in a short period of time. The one that stuck out though was the one where the candidate barely said a word.
Instead, her mother did all the talking.
The candidate showed up to the meeting with her mother. I figured the mother was just going to sit in the lobby, but she demanded to be part of the interview.
We went into my office and, instead of me asking the candidate questions, it quickly turned into the candidate’s mother making demands. Like demanding two rooms whenever the candidate was to travel, so she could go too. Or for the company to let the candidate come in late on Mondays, so she could go to religious classes on Sunday.
After thirty minutes, I concluded the meeting and thanked the two for their time. Only then did I hear the candidate speak – she thanked me for the time – and the two left, never to be heard from again.
What is your bizarre interview story? Share at @HireOnLinkedIn.
To receive blog posts like this one straight in your inbox, subscribe to the blog newsletter.
*Image from Step Brothers