Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Funny Interview Stories: Part 94

Earlier on today I twittered

"A sentence not often heard in a job interview: "I'm between bands right now."

This was said by a candidate for the job of Total Politics Political Correspondent, for which we are interviewing today. I thought it was quite hilarious and ask for permission to twitter it. This then provoked a couple of even funnier responses from my Twitter and Facebook followers...

"What are your weaknesses?"
Reply: "I don't like getting up in the mornings and I'm disorganised."
Interviewer laughs. "No, seriously, what are your weaknesses?"
Reply "Seriously, those are my weaknesses......""

Interviewer: 'What are your weaknesses?'
Interviewee: 'Blondes'

I do have a funny story myself from an interview I conducted once, concerning a woman with a full grown beard. But I had better not tell it or I will be accused of God knows what. And having written that, no doubt now I'll be accused of blaspheming.

Anyone got any other funny interview stories?


Anonymous said...

We interviewed one guy and asked "what does a bad day at work look like for you" - expecting some blah blah about a million things to prioritise, deadlines changing but I coped etc. etc. He thought for a while asnd said "Well, the day the toilet backed up and overflowed all into the office was pretty bad". Had to cough so as not to explode laughing.

Chris Mellish said...

My personal favorite answer to the "What are your weaknesses, what are you worst at?" question was an honest "Ice skating. Never take me ice skating, I'll make a complete fool of myself."

None of the above said...

Here's something that made me laugh... I presume you will be discussing it?

£7000 for a couch?
And the place had already had £700,000 spent on it by Martin. £80 for a fucking clock?

Good to see things have changed. FFS.

dearieme said...

I walked in. The chairman rose. I walked towards him and put out my hand to shake his. He didn't have a right arm.

jailhouselawyer said...

At a bit of a loss as to what to do with myself during the 1960s, I popped into the Army Recruitment Centre in Leeds.

I don't think that the Sergeant Major was too impressed with me during the interview. Because he advised me: "Come back when there's a war on".

Jah'sSword said...

Unfortunately I do. At an interview for a retail manager post, in the company I worked for, I really lost it.
The head office HR chief and another manager sat before me, the day was hot, the room was small, and the night before I had not slept as I accompanied my father to be with my uncle as he died.
I should have bowed out gracefully. But I didn't.
They asked me again and again and again what I would do with an employee I was in charge of who kept turning up late. I talked about HR procedures, written warnings, setting goals. Nothing I answered was right.
I looked out of the window, at the sun on the trees, listened to voices in the distance.
They asked it again and I said quietly:
" I would take the fucker outside and break his fucking legs."

Jules Wright said...

making ill-advised smalltalk to lady interviewer:

me: "so, when are you due?"
her: "i'm not pregnant."

i know i am not alone in having done this.

Anonymous said...

A candidate applying for a political job, who had put "Conservative Party member" as one of the five key attributes at the top of her CV.

"Why are you a member of the Conservative Party?"
"Um... I don't really know."

Anonymous said...


You could have retrieved the situation by saying "No, I meant your period".

Anonymous said...

It soon became clear to the selection board that the candidate being interviewed was an oddball. When he left the room the chairman said, 'Well, there's a well balanced young man' and after a brief pause 'he has a chip on both shoulders'

Skittler said...

When asking someone about the ridiculously lengthy list of computer operating systems on their CV that they said they were familiar with, I asked which they thought would be in their top three as far as experience went.
One of the three named in the answer was "U N Nine".
He was ushered out shortly afterwards.

[Think Roman]

Archbishop Cranmer said...


Not at all.

You are one of the most sane, good-humoured and utterly reasonable presences in the perverse black hole that is the blogosphere.

His Grace hasn't had an interview in an awfully long time, and could do with one. But he once interviewed a young man who wished to study theology at Oxford.

"Why do you want to study theology at Oxford," His Grace asked.

"Because Cambridge are w***ers," came the reply.

Somewhat surprised by this directness, His Grace pointed out that he is a Cambridge man (Jesus College).

The interviewee responded:

"Well, they're not all w***ers - only those who don't know what their right arm's really for."

He was accepted, though His Grace must point out that this was not the entirety of the conversation.

DoneHisTime said...

Odd, that Jailhouse.

If he'd have known just how good you were are killing people in cold blood, the recruitment guy would have signed you up on the spot....

Jupiter said...

This really happened to one of my friends a few years ago. The interviewer was reading a newspaper and he said surprise me, my friend sat down and thought about it for a minute, took out his cigarette lighter and set fire to the guy's newspaper. He got the job.

Windsor Tripehound said...

I still want to hear more about the "lady" with a beard!

Threeguesses said...

Navy recruiter: "Can you swim?"

Candidate: "Don't you have ships?"

Nich Starling said...

A friend of mine in went for an interview to get in to teacher training college to become a languages teacher (many years ago). He was apparently confronted with a rather domineering and large lady who said she was conducting the interview, then proceeded to ask him questions in Spanish, which she expected to be answered in Spanish.

My friend said he battled his way through the answers using his rudimentary knowledge from holidays in Spain. At the end of the interview she said in English "Your Spanish needs more work". My friend responded with "But I am here to teach German and French, I don't profess to speak Spanish".

Anonymous said...

Interviewing for a parliamentary internship

Q - what is your greatest weakness
A - sport

Q - describe yourself in three words
A - too concise


Richard Gadsden said...

Unsurprisingly, there are whole blogs on this:

Malcolm Redfellow said...

All this from the public sector:

The post-university interview with the British Council in a strangley-unidentified building in Davies St, W1? When I was quizzed about my familiarity with the Wolfe Tone Bureau (a Sinn Fein front)? And I was so thrown I confused Slovak and Slovene?

Or, apart from the interview when the Chairman fell snoringly asleep, and the rest of the panel continued unabashed?

I also pass quickly over a Chairman's question, "Ah knows tha's got a degree, but what Ah wanna know is, has tha' got tha' O-levels?"

Or the appointment of a headteacher from a short-list of five. One didn't turn up. One withdrew before the final interviews. One turned the appointment down. Sweeping up after many, many subsequent disasters, members of the Education Committee were wondering how cretinous number five had to be to miss the cut.

Back in the '60s, I stood in a borough election, as a Labour candidate in an unwinnable ward. My headteacher was a long-standing "Independent" Alderman.

A few weeks later I was interviewed for a lecturing post in London (to which I was appointed). The chairman of the panel's questioning, reading from some document, started somewhat oddly:
"Are you "a socialist agitator"?"
"Are you "a revolutionary activist"?"
The use of quotation marks was palpable.

The follow-up was, "Apart from that, your headteacher thinks you are an excellent teacher."

I also treasure my day-on-expenses at a prestigious London College. I'd done the routine pass-the-parcel morning-session with the various College hierarchy. This included a one-to-one with the College Principal, across a narrow table. He was making notes, in English, but using Greek characters (which, initially, threw me, until I twigged the word "blarney"). When we concluded, I shook hands, and referred to the advantages of a classical education. After a long lunch-time delay, we interviewees were dismissed and told that none of the applicants was acceptable to the Chair of Governors.

Years passed.

I was chatting with an education officer from that same London Borough. Yes, I said, I recalled a very curious event in his patch, and proceeded to retail my recollection of those quite bizarre events.

I then drealised that the Chair of the appointments panel was a Tory MP. I had crossed that individual (gender unidentified: draw your own conclusions) previously at a Local Government Association committee, when said personage, then a mere Councillor, had been obtusely partisan and Thatcherite.

So, back to the conversation with the education officer. "Yes", he said. He had been there. The facts of the matter were there had been an outstanding candidate whom the College Principal wanted; but whom the Chair of the appointments panel had vetoed.

Because I had shown so much interest, the officer again enquired of my name, blushed, and disappeared.

Word verification: "tripely". Just so.

Liz said...

The person in question didn't get as far as an interview, because the CV they sent me for an editorial position said the were an 'excellent poof reader'.

Martin S said...

Worst thing that ever happened? Well, the storm that caused the flat roof to fill up with water, which then began to cascade down into the office. That water met the water flowing upward, under pressure, from the storm drain. In the office...

In the middle of torrential rain we divided our time between bailing water off the roof and out of the office, whilst other colleagues moved ten computers off the floor!

Martin S said...

Iain! This is o/t but, well done! You are linked to at Hold The Front Page!

JBW said...

Interview for a new pilot...(In interview really designed for freshly minted pilots).

Interviewer: 'What has been your most challenging moment of your life ?'
Interviewee: 'Flying into action over Baghdad'

You just have to tick those boxes!

Cynic said...

In a 45 minute structured interview for quite a senior post in the Civil Service the candidate had done reasonably well but wasnt very inspiring. Then came the last question:

Q The main duties of this job are x and y and z. Which of these would you enjoy most and why?

A Are they? I dont really think I would like any of that. If that's the job then I am afraid this isnt really for me. Sorry.

In another interview for a senior civil service manager:-

Q "You currently manage a budget of £5m. For you, what are the key issues in managing and controlling a budget that size?"

A "I am not very good at accounts so I delgate. I have a little woman in Finance who does it all for me."

Cynic said...

The candidate who arrived for his internal promotion interview and sat down in the chair.

In the first session I was head down keeping notes while my collage asked questions. Some of the answers seemed a bit odd so I looked up. The candidate had a fixed smile but was slumped to one side in the chair clearly just holding it together as he was extremely drunk.

Cynic said...

At a promotion interview one candidate was over 9 months pregnant and absolutely huge.She also had a very large bust.

We had alreday made arranagements for a special chair for her, so we settled her down, made all the usual provisions for extra breaks etc and told her not to worrry, just make herself comfortable. She leaned right back in the chair.

As the panel all we then could see was the huge bump, topped by a huge bust and her eyes peeping out over the top. It was also clearly apparent from time to time as she shifted about that she had gone commando that day.

She then gave one of the most brilliant interview performances I have ever seen in my life and was promoted.

Mr Mark said...

"My wife and I have both got big boxes."

[Thank goodness we were talking about gaming PCs]

Gannic said...

I've had a few crackers over the years....

When I was interviewing for banking summer interns I had a couple.

Firstly there was the lad who had clearly had a very tough night out and come straight to his 8am interview. He didn't say much wrong to be fair...but that would have been hard, given he basically just dozed off part way through.

There was also the girl who walked into the room, and her response to my "good morning" was to burst into tears. After calming her down and reassuring her that being nervous was ok, we gave her time to sort herself out....and then she promtply repeated the process. Four times. Over three hours.

My last one had me as the interviewee, again at a bank....he MD interviewing scans my CV and says, in a broad German accent "So, you were an RAF cadet. My Grandfather was shot down as a Luftwaffe pilot during the war. What do you think of war?"

Surprisingly enough, I got a job offer....

Anonymous said...

Archbishop Cranmer's story has been doing the rounds since at least the 1960s. It is variously used at Cambridge and Oxford, at UCL and KCL (aka Strand Poly) and amongst Oxford's own colleges ("Why do you want to study at Corpus?", "Because Balliol are a shower of w*nkers.").

Paul Walter said...

I went for an interview at BBC Radio Merseyside for a job as a presenter about thirty years ago. I walked in and sat down in front of the panel of six members. Then the chairman asked me straight off "What is wrong with the Severn Bridge?". I was utterly floored by this and asked why he had asked me that question. He then looked down at a piece of paper saying: "Well you say in your letter that you don't like the Severn Bridge". As I had not mentioned the Severn Bridge in my letter (who on earth would mention the Severn Bridge in a letter to apply for a job at Radio Merseyside?) I suddenly realised what had happened and said "I think you have someone else's letter there - not mine". Unfortunately I then made the mistake of smiling at a lady panellist who also slightly smiled at this. Seeing my smile, the Chair frowned at me, obviously not liking the fact that I smiled at his mistake, and it was downhill all the way from there and I couldn't get back on the train fast enough...