Hiring Horror Stories

By Adam Robinson,
October 31, 2012

The lights began to flicker as fog seeped out from the elevator doors. With the passing of each moment, the air grew heavier and heavier. The color drained from the face of the hiring manager as the ding from the elevator signaled the guest had arrived.

“What did I get myself into,” the hiring manager mumbled as the shadow of the guest grew larger and larger, closer and closer. 

Thump-thump, thump-thump. The hiring manager’s heart was racing.

Thump-thump, thump-thump. The knock at the door matched the heatbeat. 

The door slowly creaked open, as fog engulfed the office. A mysterious voice echoed throughout the empty office, Helllloooo. 

Hiring Horror Stories

There are plenty of hiring horror stories out there, but you never think you’ll be caught in such a nightmare. In the spirit of Halloween, let’s take a look at some of the best, err…worst hiring horror stories out there.

So mailing and e-mailing aren’t the same thing?

“We hired a summer intern to help with office work. We asked him to send an audio cassette to a client.  He just stuck it in an envelope, and in a week it came back smashed to pieces. We asked him what he was thinking. His response: ‘It didn’t look like that when I sent it.'”

“We also asked him to mail about a dozen 9 x 12 envelopes. He put the postage on the flap, instead of the upper right hand corner. They all came back. BTW, he was the valedictorian of his college class!” (The Grindstone)

Excuse me, this is a private call

In the middle of an interview, the candidate’s cell phone rang. Upon taking the call, the candidate asked the interviewer to step out of the office because it was a private conversation. Needless to say, asking an interviewer to leave their own office so you can take a call is a sure-fire way to eliminate yourself from the candidate pool. (CBS News)

Show me the money

‘I was heading up a hiring committee to hire an executive director for a social service agency in New Hampshire. I led him into the interview in front of the six or so committee members. I asked him to tell us a little about himself. The first thing he said: ÔI just want you to know that I can’t be hired for less than ‘X’ amount of dollars. I think you should know that first of all.”

“Since his request was $10,000 more than the highest amount we could offer for the position, I said, ÔThank you for telling us that. Let’s not waste your time with an interview today. Thank you for coming.’ I got up, shook his hand and led him from the room.” (Sun Journal)

Don’t be Fooled by Any Ghouls

Rather than asking candidates to just send their cover letter and resume, take it a step further and ask a candidate to write a short paragraph on why they want to work for your company. Or you could get a little more creative and ask candidates to write a sales pitch for a made-up product. 

By asking candidates to do more than just send their resume, you can see who is willing to take the time to make that extra effort to stand out (or to see who doesn’t follow directions).

For those candidates who are brought in for interviews, start by asking them about high school and work your way up to their current position. By asking about jobs and activities in high school and college, a lot will be revealed about their work ethic and personality. It’s also a great way to measure how well they will fit in with the rest of the team and the company culture that everyone has worked so hard to build. 

Halloween at Hireology

Holidays are a great way to boost company culture! Whether it’s Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day or National Doughnut Day, any excuse to get the team together is a good enough for us. It’s good to take a break everyone once and a while to share some laughs, but it’s also a great way to boost morale and productivity. 

Today at Hireology HQ is “Come as your Co-Worker” day. Stayed tuned for pictures! Disclaimer: Hireology is not responsible for any nightmares that may occur after viewing these pictures.

Happy Halloween!


Look for these four elements in each candidate and you’ll avoid making our next list of hiring horror stories. 

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

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