My Worst Job Interviews: The Stories from Successful People

It is difficult to predict how your interview will be going. You make a strategy, but it goes wrong. Every failure gives you a lesson in which you can turn into your success. In this article, we will give you several real stories by successful people who failed in the interviews but reached much more.

Learn from Your Mistakes

Entrepreneur Kashif Naqshbandi forgot to wash the stamp on his arm from the night club before the interview. “I'm sure they noticed a spot on the back of my hand, but they asked nothing about it, which is even worse. I wanted to make up for my mistake and probably seemed too serious,” he said. Now he suggests that he would start a conversation about the stamp. 

“So I would show that I am honest and ready to discuss complex topics. You should not be embarrassed by yourself and let it affect you professionally.” Now Naqshbandi is the marketing director for the recruiting agency Frank Recruitment Group, and he rinses all the stamps out of the club when he arrives home.

The Essence of Interviews Is to Find the Right Company

As a teenager, journalist Annemarie Dooling underwent an internship on the Discovery Channel. Having gained experience, she sent the resume to another company. “The office was at home. I was interviewing barefoot, and the interviewer was eating a sandwich all the time, sitting on a pile of papers. She tried to find my resume in this mess, shook crumbs off him, asked me one design question, and then looked at me and said: “I can’t hire you because of your tattoos. Think about what you have done with your body and how unprofessional it is,” she says.

Dooling left and immediately realized that she would not want to work with such people.

The essence of the interview is not only to get approval and impress the person at the table. This is your chance to see if the company is right for you. Therefore, listen to yourself – if the interview went bad, maybe this is for the best?

Everything Matters, Even If It Goes Wrong

At the age of 25, Katherine Rose got an interview. She arrived there from far away.

“I had less experience than other candidates, but we talked well,” she recalls. When she went outside, she noticed that she had left the keys in the car. “I thought: “For the whole previous hour, I have been explaining to the interviewer that I can study under pressure. I cannot go home. I have to go back to the office. When the interviewer noticed that I was back, he asked if I knew the way,” she says. She admitted that she needed help. After a while, they sent to her an offer for a job because they noticed her ability to act calmly under stressful circumstances. “This incident showed me that you could be yourself and make mistakes, and still succeed,” Rose said.

Your Failure May Be Your Success

Marie Lee is a writer and teacher of literature. In 1980, she wanted to get a job at Brown University. “I knew that it was a suitable place for me,” she shares. But during an interview, a dispute arose between her and the interviewer. “I knew that I was right, and I continued to argue to the end, although I understood that I definitely wouldn't get a job.”

She has already forgotten the detail of this dispute. “I planned to become a writer, and the interviewer asked: “Why do you think you can succeed in this matter?” Usually, I can control my emotions, but at that moment, I knew that I was right and did not want to back down. After that, I was sad. It seemed to me that I ruined everything,” she recalls.

Later she received a letter that she almost sent to the basket. It said that she got a job.

“All the people working at this university are very motivated,” Lee explains. Now, she uses this tactic in writing essays and small reflections.

Expect Less

Imagine that you are going for an interview and suddenly realize that you underestimated the necessary time to get to the office. This is what happened to Jennifer Owens, a senior vice president of digital strategy at when she was looking for work after the decree. 

“I went for an interview in Dumbo and could not imagine that the office is 30 minutes from the subway. Yes, I was half an hour late, and I had to apologize to everyone,” she says.

Owens did not get this job, but she got great advice that changed her life from the HR specialist. “She advised me of a Sit ‘n ’Stroll car seat, which is turning into a stroller.”

If you understand that everything is going wrong and does not follow your plane, think positively.

Humble Yourself and Relax

David Stewart, former operations director at Martha Stewart Omnimedia, interviewed Jen Beckman, a founder of 20x200.

On that date, she stayed at home with a friend who had a cat. The apartment was on the ground floor, and it was very dark. "When I sat in front of David, I noticed that my whole black suit was in cat hair. It seemed that David even offered me a brush to clean it. I was ashamed!"

He hired her anyway. “He accepted me for who I am. Moreover, he liked me for who I am. We had a wonderful relationship. I even invited him to become the chief operating officer at 20x200. We are still friends, and with a smile recall my costume in cat hair.”

Move On

Ryan Su, a lead designer at TeliApp, had the worst interview, and at the same time, his best. The HR specialist asked him: “What movies have you recently watched?” or "What book are you reading now?" “It knocked me out of the game. Although I consider myself a confident person. At the interview, I swallowed words, sweated more than necessary. I don’t remember once being so nervous,” he says.

At the interview, almost everything can go wrong. In such situations, you need to accept the fact that this is happening and change your focus. If you did not get a call back from the employer, the best decision you need to do is move on.

Ryan Su accepted his failure and wrote a letter to the interviewers, thanking them for their time. Two days later, he received an offer!


We are all humankind, and it is normal to make mistakes. Don’t focus much time on them, accept lessons. As an end effect, you can turn your failures into success and get your dream job.