3 of the Weirdest Job Interviews We've Heard Of
When you’re in job search mode, your main goal of course is to find the right job. But as these job seekers found out the hard way, some interviews can be just plain weird. Job interview questions can range from basic to bizarre. And as for job interview venues—these can range from cabs to dark, deserted (yikes) warehouses. These candidates all survived to interview again. Here’s what they learned.
Sales job masquerading as traditional position
“Alyssa” was a broke, recent graduate who answered an ad for a new local company manufacturing and selling vacuum technology. The pay was advertised at $20 an hour, and the company noted plenty of open positions.
Job interview conducted in a warehouse
Alyssa tried to rationalize weirdness away.
- First warning sign: “I drove to the industrial part of town but I wasn’t surprised—it was a new manufacturer. My interview was in what looked like an abandoned warehouse, sketchy as can be. The building had no sign and no ongoing business presence. Odd, but maybe they just needed space to interview candidates and didn’t have a facility yet.”
- Second warning sign: “The building was pretty dark. There was a large room off to the side with an open door and a table and chair. I saw a woman and confirmed she was the interviewer.”
- Third warning sign: “The questions didn’t seem like what you’d ask to find the right candidate for a job: ‘Can you work these hours.’ ‘What’s your email address?’ ‘Can you fill out this paperwork?’”
- Fourth warning sign: Despite what the ad implied, the job was sales, 100 percent commission.
Alyssa didn’t take the job.
Lessons learned: Find out more about a job before agreeing to spend a couple of hours or more on an interview. For example, if working in sales isn’t for you, insist on learning whether a job is commission only before committing to an interview. Or, if you’re worried the job involves a lot of travel and that doesn’t work for your life, get the answer ahead of time. Ask for responses in writing. The interviewer may be reluctant to give you a straight answer, but tell him you don’t want to waste his time. Overall, listen to your gut, and if a situation doesn’t feel right, leave.
Job interview conducted in a cab
“Lindsey” was a senior in college in Philadelphia interviewing in New York City for a job at a major corporation for post-graduation.
- First warning sign: “The interviewer told me to meet him in a hotel lobby.”
- Second warning sign: The interviewer, who was in the city for business, was 30 minutes late.
- Third warning sign: When the interviewer got to the hotel, he called a taxi and did the interview in the cab on the way to the airport so he could catch his plane.
Lindsey didn’t get the job, but on a happy note—the interviewer did the right thing and gave her cab fare to get back to the city from the airport.
Lessons learned: Expect the unexpected. Just because something is odd doesn’t mean it’s a deal breaker. Being flexible is key in a job interview and on the job. Lindsey did the right thing in adjusting to the change in plans. In general, be ready to roll with the unexpected during a job interview. Your future boss will want to know if you’ll be adaptable when changes and problems come up on the job.
Interview on a holiday
Sometimes the timing of an interview—in the evening or on a holiday—is a sign of bad times ahead.
- Warning sign: “Adrian” was asked to come for an interview on New Year’s Eve. Adrian had plans, and New Year’s Eve wasn’t his first or second choice for an interview time, but he wanted to be flexible.
Adrian got the job. But as it turns out, the interview timing signaled his boss didn’t respect Adrian’s time. His boss regularly emailed him at night, on weekends, and yes, on holidays with last-minute requests.
Lessons learned: Bad treatment before you’re hired translates to bad treatment once you get the job. If your future boss doesn’t respect your time before you’re hired—i.e. keeps you waiting for the interview or asks you to interview at night, on a weekend or holiday—she won’t respect your time once you start the job. Proceed with extreme caution.
In the course of our careers it’s likely we’ll encounter a strange interview from time to time. It’s important to look at these experiences as a chance to learn valuable lessons and an opportunity to practice for the job we really want to land.