Candidate Interview Humour- sometimes you can only get by with laughter!

The following shows the funny side of the interviewers job. These have been lifted from a discussion of similar title on The FIRM’s LinkedIn Group pages. The names and companies have been removed so allow us to share!

Recruiter – Computer Software Co – I interviewed a fairly senior project manager the other day and he made me chuckle, we were having a fairly circumspect discussion about project teams and skill sets, when it came to a particular individual that we both had experience of, his reply was “well, for every teapot, a lid”.

I thought it was a great saying, and I resolve to use it in the future. If we look back I bet there are quite a few humorous experiences we could recall.

Has anyone else had a funny or bazaar experience you would like to share. Maybe we could sell it to Readers Digest 🙂

Recruiter – RPO Vendor – I interviewed a chap from India when I was in Australia and he asked what the rate was? I told him it was $300 day.

His response was “You look for Jesus Christ”, “You pay for Shepherd”

I just about fell off my chair……

Recruitment Manager – Big 5 Accounting Firm – I was running a panel assessment for a very polished sales exec from a competitor, (great experience, great presentation, excellent answers, solid examples etc etc). However, he was being a little illusive regarding his motivation to make a move. After a little more questioning he revealed that he recently started reporting to a new Sales Director and as much as he had tried to develop the relationship etc…it was not working. Concerned that this was around performance or maverick behaviors, we asked him to qualify his answer at which point he simply said, “Put it this way, the softest thing about her…is her teeth!”

It was just brilliantly random!

Recruitment Manager – Govt Health Services – A few years ago was explaining to a German candidate, that the role included a package, that involved company bens…he then proceeded to rant and rave about the differences between BMW, Mercedes and Audi. At this point I was at a bit of a loss, as to what the relevance of all this was, as we only gave car allowances…he then proceeded to announce he would only accept the offer if we gave him an Audi instead of a Benz…took me awhile to explain to him the company car allowance policy 🙂

Senior TA Manager – Compute Software Co – One of my Recruiters had a candidate turn up to an interview with his wife who sat in so she could help him decide whether he would/could take the job or not. My Recruiter made the choice for them both…..

International recruitment professional – Again not an interview but definitely unusal. Some time ago I was working in Kazakhstan, I received a CV from a Kazakh who was currently Chief of Police. Before that he was Chief of the ‘Drunk Tank’ and his job before that was as a ‘Chief Fur Mare Slaughterer’. Quite how he thought he was qualified to be a Geophysicist I’m not sure…On another occasion I was instructed by the office of the manager of the local unemployment service that I should interview him for ‘A Job’ with one of my Western oil company clients. When I got there and via 3 way interpretation – Kazakh to Russian, Russian to English & accompanied by much ranting/table banging & spittle flying from his mouth (I thought it was a joke, it wasn’t) he accused me of sleeping with my Kazakh female staff & demanded to know why I hadn’t found him a job & said he demanded one – NOW! I eventually managed to calm him down to the point that a bottle of vodka came out with 2 chipped and dirty tea cups which he filled & kept on filling, no escape!

Freelance Recruitment Specialist – Don’t know about funny but definitely bazaar, in the space of two weeks I have been trawling through job boards and on Linked In and came across MY exact details posted on other peoples skills summary and LI Profile! What is funny is both times when whizzing through the data I have stopped and thought- wow looks good and then the realisation kicks in!

Managing Director – Management Consultants – We have the fortunate position of being on the 26th floor of a great London building, and it is a view that many candidates admire every day. However an applicant for a PA’s position recently took great pains to clarify the fire escape procedure – when; how often; who was Fire Warden; had we ever had a real fire ??, when we asked what was causing so much worry (trying to be sensitive) they bit their lip………, looked at the floor and then asked what would happen if it was too tiring to walk down the stairs ??

Head of Recruitment – Construction Co – Some years ago, I received a resume from Iraq quoting engineering experience in the nuclear weapons research program on the same day that the IAEA inspection team was being ousted for overly vigorous inspections. I gave it the benefit of the doubt and assumed a languge problem before quietly putting it aside.

Head of Recruitment – Health Services – A few years back when in the public sector – I had a very nervous, eccentric character fiddling with his pen, and he managed to end up flinging it at my face to his horror. He then asked at the end as one of his questions “what is the first thing you are going to say about me when I walk out the room?” For that cheek – and to brighten up our days, he got the job!

Recruitment Manager – Financial Service Co – My old manager used the phrase “he says waving his wooden leg” (not sure of it’s meaning or origins even after having Googled it) but he said it right in front of one of my candidates at the client’s offices… who had a prosthetic leg. I knew he has a false leg because he’d told me when I asked if he had a disability that needed to be considered at the interview. As it wasn’t relevant, I never mentioned it having not thought he’d say anything like this, nor having never heard it before or since. He got the job in the end but my boss was rather embarrassed.

Recruitment Manager – Management Consultant –
I attended a graduate assessment centre last year, during an interview with a candidate I asked “Tell me about a relationship that you have formed in order to get a job or task done” (not a great question I know). The reply was “I would never have sex with some one to get a job done or for promotion.”

Recruitment Business Partner – Software Company – I interviewed someone a while ago now for a customer facing position. I asked a fairly straight forward question ‘what are main strengths as a communicator?’ to which I got the reply ‘I’m not very good at communication’ !!!!

Branding Manager – Broadcast Media Co – These are hilarious – I once interviewed a graduate who when asked about a difficult team working situation gave the example of a disagreement with a fellow student. When asked how it was resolved she said that the other student had come up to her afterwards and apologised. I then asked her how she responded and she replied “I said she could keep her apology and I would keep my distance”.. needless to say she didn’t get the job…

Another story was when a candidate sat down to a group exercise and opened a 2 litre bottle of sparkling water which immediately exploded onto the other candidates – the stunned silence that followed by the six soaked candidates was priceless.

Recruitment Manager – Financial Services Co. – That reminds me – I asked a candidate about a time she had to deal with a difficult colleague… her answer was that she threw a stapler at her. Solved her problem, didn’t get her the job with us though.

Recruitment Advisor – Engineering Consultants – I was interviewing for a Business Development Director a while back. When asked about his management style he said ‘Basically its my way or the highway’. Amazing.

Recruitment Manager – Law Firm – Last week I interviewed a rather nervous and un-talkative candidate so thought I’d open them up with a general question: “tell me about your ideal job?”. The candidate then went on to talk about how they’ve always wanted to run a tea and cake shop in Devon….

Ask a stupid question……..

Recruitment Officer – Computer Software Company – When recruiting an IT guy last year, my colleague asks at the usual questions at the end of the interview:
– Do you have any questions?
– Huh, yes, do you organize a Christmas Tree for kids?

The same candidate 10 minutes before:
“I find living between mountains very oppressive!!!

Come on, we are Switzerland based, mountains are everywhere!!!!

Technical Recruiter – Health Services – I had a day of interviewing graduating IT students on campus… always a challenging day. One student came in and he had a less than stellar academic record. Just barely a ‘C’ average. I normally start by giving the students a little info about the company and letting them know what I hope to accomplish in the interview. He stopped me before I could get through my first sentence and leaned back in his chair and told me that he didn’t need me to waste his time with all that information. He asked me to tell him immediately what his starting salary would be and when his start date would be.

I told him those were fair questions and answered that his starting salary would be zero and that he wouldn’t be starting with us, and then I asked him to please leave. He had an incredulous look on his face and asked me if things weren’t going well in the interview.


Talent Attraction Manager – Media Company – We have just been contacted by a Psychic asking if we have any job opportunities within xxxxxxxx for Psychics. We were soooo tempted to say ‘well you tell us…’

Recruitment Manager – Computer Software Co. – During the DOTCOM boom I worked for a well known new media agency aggressively recruiting for designers and developers. In the post one day we received a video tape, which we duly played in a discreet office. The opening scene was a woman doing her ironing in the front room who proceeded to introduce her wonderful son to us who had recently graduated with a media studies degree, she told us all about his strengths and how much his granny loved him and that he was always pleasant and had a tidy bedroom etc etc. Obviously it was all staged but it was without doubt the most creative job application we’d ever seen.

So I got the management team together in a meeting room and played it again, the tape went down very well indeed and everyone wanted to interview him. We even shared the experience at the Global HR conference in Florida to much amazement!

Yes of course we rang him to interview him but sadly we’d been beaten to it by 4 other companies, if I recall it took him less than 1 week from sending his CV out to being offered by 4 companies.

Pretty impressive for a grad!

I wonder what he is doing now?

Recruiter – Computer Games Co. – These are great. I received an email from a candidate yesterday that made me laugh out loud……
“Please find my updated CV attached, apologies for any incontinence”.

Recruitment Manager – Management Consulting – I once received an appalling application for a graduate position. It was filled with spelling and grammatical errors, littered with random ‘txt spk’. So we duly rejected the application. The candidate then emailed in to complain. The email was even worse than the application. So being in a good mood, I called to offer some ‘constructive feedback’, politely suggesting running an application through a spell checker before submitting it to an employer. And perhaps use one for any emails as well. The response was “but then you wouldn’t see the real me…!” I thought, ‘You’re right, I won’t…’

Recruitment Manager – Computer Software Co. – I was speaking with a very friendly and enthusiastic Graduate applicant recently who told me that he was the best person for the job. When I asked him to explain why he though that, he said “my dad said so!” – I did let out a little laugh I fear. I didn’t dare try and qualify how old he was

Senior Recruiter – Big 5 Accounting Firm -One of my colleagues was interviewing a candidate for a graduate role and asked about a time they had overcome a challenge. The candidate described a time when they had gotten involved in a talent contest on campus with some of his friends as part of a boy band. He thought that singing their song on stage would help him gain confidence. My colleague asked him how it went and the candidate gave her a strange look.. paused for a moment… and then started singing the song. It was ‘I want it that way’ by the Backstreet Boys. He realised what she was actually asking a couple of lines in and the interview never really recovered from there.

Recruiter – Insurance Co – I had a candidate (who was on mid £30ks) tell me that their 5 year plan was to be on a 5 figure salary……..
Unfortunately we weren’t able to help them get there.

Resourcing Adviser – Financial Services Co. – I was interviewing for a senior relationship manager a while back. When I asked the candidate where they see themselves in 3 years time she advised me that she would be a farmer! She then proceeded to brush imaginary crumbs of the desk for the next few minutes. Giving the feedback to the agency had the whole team falling of their chairs. I was later advised the candidate had drunk 4 espresso’s before the interview!!

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