Lessons Learned from 10 Job Interviews Gone Bad

Our friends at the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) asked their members this question:

“During a job interview (either while job hunting or hiring), what was the worst thing that ever happened?”

Here’s a collection of answers we’re sure you’ll find powerful learning lessons as you prepare for your next job interview:


An Interviewee Yelled at Me

PKelsey Meyerrior to an interview for an internship position, I Googled the candidate to see if I could find his LinkedIn or any of his work. Instead, the first result was his Twitter photo which showed him in front of 100 beers. He was under 21. I asked him during the interview if he thought this was a good representation of his personal brand, he proceeded to yell and claim that we violated his privacy.

Kelsey MeyerInfluence & Co.


He Pretended to Know Our Mission Statement

Kevin XuWhen interviewing the candidate, he said he knew our mission statement. He insisted he knew. But when I asked him to explain it, his description was completely off. We didn’t let him off the hook. We just kept letting him make stuff up.

Kevin XuMebo International


An Applicant Talked Trash About Their Previous Employer

Andrew HowlettI had an applicant recently who opened their interview with a scathing attack on their previous employer. They insinuated wrong doing on their part, including sexual harassment. I had not even asked about their previous job or employer yet!. I don’t want people part of my company that lead with negative about other people instead of talking about their own strengths.

Andrew HowlettRain


She Checked Her Phone Throughout the Interview

Liam MartinDuring a recent set of interviews I was running I had a young woman who felt she was above the position. Throughout the interview she checked her phone multiple times and seemed somewhat disinterested in my questions. It was both a waste of my time and hers. If you don’t want the job, don’t come for an interview!

Liam MartinStaff.com


He Had A Bad Criminal Record

Robert De Los SantosWhen my company started I had an assistant schedule back to back interviews. I decided I would review applications during the interview. Then a guy came in with the most outrageous thing on his application I will never forget. He listed under a criminal record that he had been arrested for terrorists threats in the nineties! It took me so completely off guard I couldn’t bring it up. He was not hired.

Robert De Los SantosSky High Party Rentals


I Walked Out

John RamptonI didn’t find an interviewee honest. I did not want to be a part of it, so I got up and walked out.

Don’t ever be afraid to stand up for what you believe in during an interview, no matter what side of the table you are on.

John RamptonHost


 I Didn’t Have My Facts Straight

Simon CasudoI once did an interview right out of college and found myself totally unprepared to talk about key facts and figures. Ever since, I’ve never gone to an interview without doing background research on both the interviewer and the company itself. I was always ready to discuss recent numbers and acquisitions.

Simon CasutoeLearning Mind


An Interviewee Only Wanted Help to Build Their Own Business

Natalie MacNeilWhile I was flattered that an applicant wanted to have me as a mentor, she made it very clear that the real reason she wanted to work with me was so that I could help her build her own business. In any interview the focus should be on what the applicant can do for the company and how he or she can support our growth, not the other way around.

Natalie MacNeilShe Takes on the World


An Applicant Was Interviewing for the Wrong Job

Shawn PoratI was once holding interviews for a certain position and found myself interviewing someone who clearly had the completely wrong idea about what job he was applying for. He started telling me about what a great sales closer he was when the position he was applying for involved managing a database. Turns out, he was going on lots of interviews for different types of positions and had gotten mixed up.

Shawn PoratFortune Cookie Advertising


I Was Told What to Say

Mike Ambassador BrunyWhile interviewing back in the day I was asked, “How would you describe yourself?” After giving my answer, one of the interviewees said, “You were supposed to say, ‘smart.’ That’s what psychology majors say.” It was really awkward and I ended up turning down the opportunity.

Mike BrunyAmbassador Bruny Dot Com




Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.



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