Ridiculous Recruitment Stories of 2023

September 19, 2023

Some of the most hilarious and cringe-worthy encounters that these recruiters will never be able to forget. These nightmare candidates will leave you in stitches and remind you why you need an external recruiter.

Recruiting is a wild adventure into the depths of human quirkiness. There’s nothing quite like the pressure of a job interview to bring out the most awkward, silly, and downright puzzling behaviours in all of us. While we love to celebrate the triumphs – like finding the perfect candidate through a referral or nailing a LinkedIn search on the first try – we also love to take a moment to indulge in the hilarity that the internet has to offer.

Every seasoned recruiter has a treasure trove of stories that will make your head spin, so prepare for a view from the looking glass. Get ready to laugh, cringe, and maybe even shed a tear (of joy or secondhand embarrassment, we won’t judge).

1. When the choice is between two terrible options

“A long time ago his department was looking to hire a new junior assistant professor. They had narrowed it down to two highly qualified guys, both fresh out of grad school. They knew they were going to hire one or the other. As a final step of the process, they decided to take both of them out to dinner separately.

The first guy is cordial throughout the whole thing, seems to get along with everybody just fine. Then, at the end of the meal, he picks up his empty plate and licks the whole thing clean. Like, tongue flat against the surface of the plate, covering every inch of it until it’s clean. In the middle of a nice restaurant. Then he sets the plate down like it was the most normal thing in the world. Everyone just stares at him, and then awkwardly try to just wrap things up. Afterward, they laugh about it to each other— what a bizarre and unnecessary way to throw away a near clinch on a good job opportunity.

So they take the second guy out, almost just a formality at this point. Again, everything is fine, he’s polite, seems perfectly qualified, seems to know the right things to say. Then, at the very end of the meal, they ask him if he had any questions for them. He pauses and thinks for a moment, then asks, “So what is the student-teacher dating policy?”

Afterward, the other professors are sitting around together when one of them says, “Well, looks like we’re hiring the plate licker.”

– Enron_F on Reddit

2. Know your stuff or know you’re stuffed.

“I was doing a tech screen phone interview, and you could tell the guy was googling his heart out every time we asked a question. He would say, “Hmmm, let me think about that for a second.” The background ambient noise would cut off, and then cut back on a second later, and he’d start reading off stuff from the top Google result.”

– notagoodboye on Reddit

3. Screening is important.

“Do you guys drug test?”

“Yes, we do.”

“For like, ALL the drugs?”

“Yes.”

“Ok. Thank you for your time.”

And then he got up and left.

– kramblin on Reddit

4. The Candy Man Can..’t

“The interview was for an entry-level retail position. I called him in for an interview, and after introductions, brought him up to the company break room. He looked like a kinda sketchy individual, wearing a beat-up black cap and what looked to be a dirty hoody. I didn’t think too much of it because: a) I did call him in on shorter notice, b) I don’t like to judge a candidate solely on how they look, and c) it’s retail—what do you expect candidates to look like?

I excused myself for 30 seconds to check in on my trainee, and when I came back the candidate looked a little uncomfortable.

Not thinking much of it we start the interview asking the standard questions about what he’s done previously, why he wants to work here, etc. I notice he continues to look uncomfortable and it almost looks as though he’s hiding something in his hands. I eventually ask if there’s something wrong I can assist with and he comes clean.

He explains he has a fistful of candy (jelly beans in this case) and he’s not sure what do do with them. I’m a bit gobsmacked and have questions which I wish I would have asked. Where did he get this candy? Why did he think it was a good idea to eat candy in an interview? What was he going to do with this candy?

As I tried to articulate a response he exclaims, “I know!” and proceeds to shove the entire handful into his mouth. And this isn’t a couple of jelly beans. This is a massive handful of now sweaty, sticky candies that he has just thrown into his mouth. And he starts chewing. And chewing. His hands are stained and he’s really working his jaw due to the sheer amount and chewy nature of them. I swear 30 seconds pass before he finally gulps them down and asks calmly, “You were saying?”

The interview did not continue much longer than that, and unfortunately, the candy man did not get a job with us.”

– MichaelTheElder on Reddit

5. Rolling in the deep…

“Candidate arrived in rollerblades. Stayed in rollerblades the whole interview. He used the word “blade” instead of “walk” or “go” for the whole interview. Can’t tell if I was being punk’d.”
PsychohistorySeldon on Reddit

6. The early annoyance.

“We had a guy come in for an interview, and he showed up a full 40 minutes prior to his scheduled interview. One room office shared by three people, so there’s no good place for him to wait. I said you can go to the coffee shop next door and come back at the scheduled time. He said, ‘No, I’ll just wait here – I have a phone call to make.’

He proceeds to have a very loud phone conversation in our one-room office. When it was finally time for his scheduled interview, he was still on the phone, and actually shushed me, saying, ‘I’M ON THE PHONE.’ Ten minutes later he was ready to be interviewed. Not even sure why we proceeded with the interview, but it was over quickly and his resume was in the recycle before the door even closed.”

– jenjen2317 via Reddit

7.  Venturing into absurdity.

“I was hiring in pharmaceutical sales, and during a large drug launch, the company was hiring almost 200 people nationwide.

Because of this, the first step was a phone screen, then a video interview with the hiring manager, before flying candidates out for the final, panel interviews with five individuals (VPs of HR and Sales of each region, and Sales Directors for those territories).

Because of this, we were very strict with the interviews and who moved forward, which means it REALLY sucked when a guy went into his final panel interview and started doing magic tricks.

Very seriously, he started pulling flowers from his sleeves, and he tried to “vanish” an interviewer’s coffee, but ended up spilling it everywhere instead.

In that same round of hiring, we also had an individual who did his video call from his coffee table (he sat on the floor) and he had someone ring his doorbell. From the conversation with the hiring manager, he asked politely if he could go answer the door in case it was an emergency. She said, “Sure” – no big deal – and the guy stood up, flashing his tightie whities.”

gardenmarauding via Reddit

8. Never skip proof-reading.

“I once saw a resume that stated they were a “valid Victorian”. Either they were trying to say they were top of their class or that they were a genuine person from 19th century England, neither of which were true.”

– tybrromian via Reddit

We doubt your own experiences can hold a candle to these hapless interviewers who had no clue what they were getting themselves into. Save yourself the time and avoid the drama by using a specialist recruiter for your next hire, simply hit the chat button and let’s start working on getting you the best candidates – not like these!

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