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What is the Scariest Job Interview Experience You've Had?

By Ashley Gatewood posted 10-19-2021 14:13

In the spirit of Halloween, the CFRE Central Career Keys blog asks, "What is the scariest job interview experience you've had?"

Share your story in the comments below.

I'll start. One time I had an interview for a job at a nonprofit that supported foreign exchange students at high schools in the U.S.

I walked into the reception area. Three employees stared me down with looks that simultaneously communicated, "Get out while you can," and, "We'll eat you for breakfast."

During the interview, I was informed all employees were paid $10/hr for the first month. Then during the second month, the actual salary would kick in. I had one interview in the morning and by 2 p.m. they were on the phone offering me the job.

Eek! Talk about a red flag of being offered a job without a second interview.

Needless to say, I declined and felt relieved to have dodged a terrifying career misstep. 
Scary hands



10-31-2021 21:00

Whoa. @Lorraine GoodmanThat is...disgusting.​​

10-29-2021 10:17

I had a Zoom interview with the ED of an org to be the Director of Development. The ED showed up in a tee-shirt and hoodie. Five minutes in, she reached deep into her mouth and started picking at her back teeth. Then she casually asked, "Are you comfortable firing people?" 

Not as bad as the ED who likes to scare employees, but really? During a first interview?

10-22-2021 09:02

Great idea for a thread!

Mine was interviewing a CEO candidate who'd be my boss. First, I had to lobby hard to get any facetime with him at all. And I was the Chief Development Officer of the hospital!

Then, in the interview, he told me, "I see 'fear' as one of my management tools and I use it in the way I lead."

True story.

Worse, the guy got the job. We did work together for a few years but it's probably no surprise I never felt safe at work. 

10-20-2021 09:42

This one is less scary and more plot twist. I interviewed for a grant writing job and it seemed to be going okay. I really couldn't get a read on the interviewer. She didn't show much emotion. At the end of the interview, she slides a folder across the table and says, "Get this back to me as soon as possible."

I'm thinking it's HR paperwork and that this means it's likely I'll get a second interview. I open the folder and it's a grant application. I said, "Does this mean I got the job?"

She replied, "yes, I need you to start now! That application is due at the foundation on Friday."

10-20-2021 09:20

@Catherine Chorness Yikes! Whenever there's a feeling of many against one in an interview, it gives the impression that the job will be like swimming with sharks. Glad you didn't have to end up working with those folks. ​

10-19-2021 18:34

Greetings All,

So my scariest interview happened years ago, but the vivid memory remains.  It was for an entry level,  assistant analyst in the business unit at an RI university. 

I come down the hallway and hear the interview committee laughing and having a great time. I figured great, a happy group. The minute I walked in the room, dead silence. Dead serious. There were maybe 25 people against one little me. It was awful. Did not get the job. 

Years later I met the person who did. She was treated the same way. Most horrible, awful interview ever for her, too. Even though she got the job! She left the interview, called her mother and cried. 

So the bright side is I figure I have already had the worst interview I could every have. The rest will be gravy.

All the best to everyone, Catherine.