Remote Work

RfH Insights: Virtual Interviews Gone Wrong

July 25, 2022
November 7, 2023
Joel Primack
Lattice Team

We know great interviews are made possible with plenty of preparation — organizing a contingency plan, creating a professional space, showing up early, etc. But, as COVID-19 has taught us, life is unpredictable. From internet connections going down to unexpected interruptions in your work [from home] space, it’s not surprising that how we interview has also changed in the last few years.

As the ones screening candidates face-to-face on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that HR teams have seen their fair share of unique applicants. Recently, members of the Resources for Humans (RfH) community shared a much-needed moment of levity while reflecting on some of their weirdest virtual interview experiences.

With conversations over the last two years on heavy topics, like burnout prevention, maintaining a strong company culture following big organizational changes, and more, if you’re in the need of a laugh (as many of us are), read on.

Virtual Talent Shows

Interviews are a chance for applicants to show their best selves, but some candidates who are eager to stand out from the rest might be tempted to show off their other talents or unique personalities. Joy Banfield, from Designity, shared two virtual interview experiences where her interviewees surprised her:

“One candidate pulled out their guitar and began to sing and play during the interview. To start the interview, a candidate whipped out their sparkly pink microphone.”

An Eye on Center Stage

Another member, Cynthia Patterson, RFH Ambassador and Board Advisor at LLUNA, recalled one interview that rose above the rest…the candidate? An eyeball.

“[I had] a candidate that would only let me see his EYE for the interview. Like, his camera was set up so I could see his eyeball.”

Dress Code Optional

More than one member shared incidents of “work-from-home” fashion choices that were both distracting and amusing at the same time.

One of our members, Khushi shared an awkward first encounter she had during her first week at a new job:

“I met with the owner/CEO (virtually) for the first time, and he was facing a million dollar home, enjoying the beautiful weather. He came online with video on, and then told me, ‘oh I guess I should put on a shirt, right?’
The second time it took him about 15 minutes into the meeting to realize that he didn't have a shirt on.”

Khushi wasn’t the only RFH member with a quirky CEO story. Another member shared:

“My former CEO interviewed candidates in a chicken suit on Halloween one year.”

The Vacation Blues

Lisa Paterson from Applause shared the potential side effects of accommodating candidates’ vacation schedules:

“One candidate did the whole interview with their partner behind them, lying across the hotel bed watching videos on a tablet.”
“I had a woman accept an interview with the understanding that she was on vacation. Sure, no problem. I still didn't expect her to show up soaking wet in her bathing suit.”

The Great Escape

Sometimes it doesn’t take until the end of the interview to realize there isn’t a good fit. Still, one RfH member shared this surprising series of events:

“After someone copied and pasted their social media sample from Canva [a template] and realized they were caught, the candidate interrupted us on the Zoom call and said, ‘I don’t think this company is the right fit for me,’ and exited the call suddenly. It was a first for me!?

Fun and games aside, managing virtual interviews is an art form. Besides saving you time talking to more candidates, virtual interviews are a chance to put your company’s best foot forward. As more companies make the permanent move to remote/hybrid work models, Talent Acquisition teams are tasked with making sure the virtual interview process is as seamless as possible, both for the applicant and the interviewer. A lot can go wrong, but, with the proper preparation, RfH members say there is a lot that HR teams can do to ensure you’re interviewing candidates effectively.

Have other virtual interview horror stories? Join Resources for Humans, our free HR Slack community, and share some laughs with the 17,000+ members located around the world.