Odd things happen under the guise of a job interview.
Job interviews can can be awkward and nerve wracking, but there's usually at least a minimum standard of professional behaviour that you can expect. Unfortunately, things sometimes take a turn toward the bizarre.
A recent thread on question and answer website Quora asked people to describe the most bizarre job interview experiences they've been through or know about. We've pulled out a few of the best stories. These are personal anecdotes, and a few are anonymous, so take them with a grain of salt.
An alarming development
One Quora user, after passing all of his early-stage interviews, was set for a final talk with the CEO of an (unnamed) Silicon Valley tech company.
The interview was scheduled for mid afternoon, but the candidate wasn't called in until 8pm, despite being scheduled for a red-eye return flight to Boston that night. Many CEOs like to keep you waiting for a bit to make it clear who's in charge, but this particular boss went way beyond that.
Here's how the interviewee described the scene:
“We are having the interview when an appointment alert goes off: he stops it and explains 'that means you have missed your flight'.
“Which I had realised and expected …
“But it was obviously important enough that the CEO of a major company set an alert specifically to tell him that he had waited long enough to make me miss my plane …”
What's particularly crazy is that the company had paid for the flight in the first place. The candidate ended up getting the job, which came with a great salary and pre-IPO stock options. But he ended up turning it down.
That provoked an impassioned email from the CEO.
“The classic line was: 'I HAVE A LIST OF THE 10 STUPIDEST PEOPLE IN AMERICA. YOU ARE NOW ON THAT LIST. YOU IDIOT'.”
“Financially, it might have been the worst decision I'll ever make,” the interviewee writes. But he doesn't regret it for a second.
Dog day afternoon
This story comes from a friend of a Quora user. The friend, a CEO and founder, was interviewing a series of candidates. When the next one came in, a golden retriever wandered in alongside them. They started the interview anyway, as the dog laid down under the table, not bothering anybody.
“Eventually [he] had to say something … my friend can't take it any more. He likes the candidate and the interview was otherwise normal so now he bursts out, not angrily but very curiously, with, 'Why did you think it was normal to bring your dog to an interview?'
“The candidate's reply was, 'My dog? I thought it was your dog! I wanted to ask you the same question!'
“Turns out the dog had just been out for a loiter and decided on a whim to traipse in an opening door.”
One interviewee had a somewhat more serious interruption. He was in the last of a series of interviews with the ex-military CEO of a Silicon Valley company when this happened:
“An earthquake started, and kept going, fairly seriously, and from my chair I could see people running down the corridor toward the exit. The CEO reacted to this not at all. I kept the conversation going. The quake got more intense, stuff falling off of book-shelves, etc., and more and more people fleeing the building. I decided that if the CEO could take it, so could I. We kept right on talking until we were the only two people left in the building.
“A half-hour later, people were straggling back into the building, and we were still talking. Eventually, every-one had returned to work, and we finished our conversation. He shook hands with me, thanked me, said they would 'be in touch'.”
Ultimately, he got the job.