Have you ever had an awkward moment at a job interview?
Photo credit: Wayhomestudio
Interviews are stressful, and it is common to be nervous and make a few mistakes during these sessions. Many times, after the interview is over, we just hope that all the awkward moments are forgotten and that the interviewer remembers us for the right reasons.
This week, we spoke to some members of their community to get 9 of the most awkward job interview stories we could find. It was a tough call but we made it through.
These awkward moments will have you laughing at all the times you've made mistakes like these at a job interview. They will also leave you with tips to prepare for next time. Enjoy!
Awkward Job Interview Moment #1 - I bad-mouthed my employer
“I had just been let go from my previous job, so I guess I was still bitter about it because I said my previous employer was a b**. The interviewer was obviously shocked and things got really awkward after that”
In a situation like this, while you may not have meant to say what you did, it is important to find a way to save the situation.
When you catch yourself bad-mouthing a previous employer to the interviewer, catch your breath and apologize for saying what you did how you did. You can also rephrase your statement and clarify what you meant and finish it up on a positive note. Don’t dwell on it and instead draw the recruiter’s attention back to the answer to the question asked.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #2 - I answered in a different language
“I forgot and answered one question in my local language. I was really apologetic and embarrassed about it but funnily enough, the interviewer suggested if I’d like to continue the rest of the interview in that language. I said yes because it would help with my nerves, and she agreed.”
Not all interviewers may be sympathetic enough to let you use a language you are comfortable with during an interview just so you can be comfortable.
If you have to answer interview questions in English or a language you are not comfortable enough in, there are ways to make it work. Avoid mistakes by taking a couple of seconds to think before you answer.
You can try the age-old trick of rephrasing the question to make it sound like an answer. This way, you get time to think without any of those awkward pauses.
"What do you look for in a work environment"
"In a work environment, I honestly have to say that I have realized that some things are more important than most,"
Ta-da! No awkward pause and you sound absolutely brilliant!
Awkward Job Interview Moment #3 - My tears interrupted the interview
“I was asked a question and I just started crying”
Something may happen before an interview to make you more emotional than usual and even a question from the recruiter might trigger you.
If you feel your emotions getting the best of you, take a few seconds to catch your breath and compose yourself then start over.
You can briefly explain why you got emotional without going into too much detail, then redirect the interview back to the question at hand.
Whatever you do, don’t get out of the room. It will break the momentum of the interview, and you might lose your footing.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #4 - I used some “colorful” words
“The interviewer asked me about politics, specifically a certain politician and I made it very clear that he wasn’t my favorite person. Actually, I think I might have let out a swear word or two.”
Swear words are hard to ignore, especially if they are said during an interview. You can say that talking about certain topics makes you very passionate then cleverly steer things back into the conversation about the role.
To avoid saying something you might regret, slow down when speaking. It will help you think of the next thing to say.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #5 - I had a wardrobe malfunction
“I came to the interview with my sleeping scarf still on my head. It was a rushed morning for me and I didn’t have time to look at myself in the mirror before going in. After the interview one of the recruiters who was a lady came and told me that my headscarf was a bold fashion choice. I just smiled and quickly rushed to the bathroom to remove it.”
Wardrobe malfunctions during interviews are honestly at the top of my list of embarrassing moments.
If it is something you can fix at that moment, apologize for it and make a quick joke about the situation to lighten things up as you sort it out then move on. Acknowledging the mistake shows the hiring manager that it is unlike you to walk into an interview with two different-colored shoes.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #6 - My ringtone wasn’t PG
“My phone started ringing and let’s just say my ringtone isn’t very family-friendly. I quickly switched it off, but I think the interviewer was already quite offended”
This is obvious but make sure your phone is off before the interview.
Check multiple times if you have to and don’t take chances by switching it to silent or vibrate mode.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #7 - Technically, I told the interviewer about myself. Technically.
“When the interviewer asked me to tell them about myself, I said I was single”
Well, that could be one way to get the job.
But in all seriousness, have some answers ready in mind for when the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself. Prepare interview answers before the d-day to keep you from drawing a blank or saying the wrong thing during the session.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #8 - I made a mess in the interviewer’s office
“I asked if I could take a sip of water from my bottle and the interviewer said it was fine. But I clumsily ended up spilling it all over his desk. Well, I couldn’t even answer the questions after that. He asked if we could regroup in 15 minutes, so he could clean up his desk and I could collect my thoughts.”
This was probably just a case of “butterfingers,” and it may happen to anyone.
Just be careful when handling anything while you’re in the interviewer’s office to avoid any unnecessary incidents that could ruin things for you.
Awkward Job Interview Moment #9 - There were so many awkward pauses
“I kept answering my questions too fast and there was a lot of awkward silence in between the questions. The interviewer just kept looking at me thinking that I had more to say, but I just smiled and looked back at her until she asked the next question.”
Awkward silence is not always so awkward. The interviewer could be thinking of what to ask you next or taking mental notes. Embrace the silence and give the other person time to digest what you just said before moving on to the next question. Avoid trying to fill up the silence with unnecessary chatter as it can disrupt the recruiter’s thought process.
You might also try slowing down and making it a bit more obvious that you have finished your sentence.
Doing something embarrassing during an interview can have you possibly thinking about it for the rest of your life (or the rest of that week). Just remember that many people make awkward mistakes in job interviews and take it easy on yourself. Not every interview will go how you expect it to. As long as you handle it like a champion then it won’t affect your chances.
If you have more stories like this, we would love to hear about them in the comments. Don't forget to share this article with a friend!