Worst Job Interview Stories

This is going to be a multi-part series including stories from both a candidate and hiring manager perspective.

As a former Enterprise Sales Executive and now Recruiter, I’ve heard a lot of bad job interview stories from both sides of the interviewing equation. The one’s that stand out are the really bad interviews that turn bizarre from the hiring manager and candidate perspective.

Clearly it’s fair if someone doesn’t click with a candidate and/or doesn’t feel they’re qualified for the job. At the same time, many candidates know when things didn’t go well and/or they wouldn’t be a good organizational fit.

However, I find it fascinating when the two parties stories are so vastly divergent.

Job Interview Gone Wrong

Story 1:

Male candidate shows up for an 8:00 AM face-to-face meeting with VP of Sales  at a software company and arrives 15 minutes early with bells on. The VP doesn’t come out to greet the candidate until 8:30 AM (candidate has to be back at the office no later than 9:15 AM). No apology or reason from VP for leaving the candidate waiting for 30 minutes.

The job interview is for a Sales Director role and candidate witnesses what appears to be unprofessional and non-constructive dialogue between the VP of Sales and existing staff within the office prior to their interview.

During the course of the interview, the candidate asked the VP, “What’s your management style?” The answer was, “Well, I’m always breathing down the necks of my sales staff and if they don’t get the job done, I shove my foot up their ass until they do.”

Okay, by this time the candidate has no desire to work with this VP of Sales in any capacity and empathizes for the poor souls who do. When the candidate is asked how he would manage the sales team, he replies, “I don’t believe abusive language is helpful at all in motivating and nurturing sales professionals, instead I work to guide them and give feedback when necessary.”

Sales VP goes on to tell candidate if he managed like that while reporting to him, “he’d find his foot shoved up his ass.” Well, the candidate was an alpha male and didn’t like the VP’s response, all the while knowing he’d never see this man again, and told him what he’d do to the VP if/when he’d ever attempt to shove said foot anywhere.


VP of Sales receives a call from the recruiter asking for feedback and  VP proceeds to tell the recruiter the candidate, “Looked like he hadn’t taken a shower in days, dressed poorly, smelled, was disheveled, and inarticulate.”

This candidate was a friend and his nickname in the office was “GQ”, precisely because he was always put together from head to toe and smelled so great…and very articulate. He was also very fit, muscular, and could be intimidating to other men.

The point of this post is to highlight some hiring managers at all levels can have personal agendas. Oftentimes CEO’s and VC’s have no idea why their company is struggling to hire and retain otherwise excellent sales staff who would accelerate revenue and related bottom line.

On the flip side, it’s important for recruiters and others within an organization to consider the source and all related facts surrounding incidents like these. Many recruiters will simply believe the hiring manager/paying client is telling the truth and move on. Is it the hiring manager or is it the candidate who failed here?

Software sales and sales management includes a small universe, where many people have worked together and/or know someone who knows someone. It’s imperative reputations aren’t inaccurately skewed based on one very bad source with an agenda.

Yin & Yang