What happens when you’re trapped in an interview and your employer asks you a highly inappropriate question? That’s the pickle these people fund themselves in during a supposed routine interview. From bosses suggesting that you need to make great sacrifices to others talking down to you, these people share the most inappropriate question they were asked in a job interview.
#1 Aren’t You That Guy?
I went in for a job interview and thought I was prepared for all the questions he might ask. The first question of my interview, though, was, "Wait, aren't you the guy who owes me that thousand dollars?" I realized after three of the longest seconds in my life that he was joking, but that caught me off guard.
#2 I Just Sweep
This was quite a while ago and I was interviewing for a janitorial position at a private middle school. After a while, I thought the interview was going well. The interviewer asked me why I wanted to work there, what my previous job experience was, etc. They were pretty much the bog-standard interview questions.
Out of absolutely nowhere, he asked, " You're not attracted to underage girls, are you?" I was taken aback for a moment and just sort of stared at him, waiting for clarification. I think it only occurred to him after having said it how weird the question was and he quickly started to give some context. Turns out, the previous janitor had attempted some advances on some underage students. I was just there to sweep the floors for some cash.
#3 Special Toys
This happened to me when I was interviewing with Lovers, which is an adult toys and accessories shop in the United States. In your interview, the interviewer hands you an elephant-sized, wiggly adult toy and asks you to describe it. The little test is that if you giggle when explaining it, you lose. Yeah, I lost.
#4 You Have to Pick One
“What are the chances of you leaving your spouse if we relocate you?” I tried to clarify and asked, “You mean... for a period of time until we figure out our living situation?” They just said, “No, I mean would you divorce him if you had to move to, say Europe, for the job?” Wow. Also, this was a local advertising agency. They didn’t even have that many national clients. The interviewer then continuously called and messaged me for days after I declined their offer.
#5 No Interview Experience
“Which teacher did you hate the most and why?” I answered that I had disagreed with a teacher over a book (I didn’t like it and it was her favorite) and she knocked points off all my future tests. The interviewer said it was unprofessional to not like a teacher and I “clearly had no interview experience.” So yeah, didn’t get that internship.
#6 Before You Took Over
I once got asked what my dad for a living. It was more like they wanted to know my background. Some folks there knew my mom, as she designed one of their employee insurance benefits with one of the older HR people there. They weren’t prepared for my answer. “He’s deceased but was assigned to this factory several years back. He designed the wastewater treatment here and some other things before you guys took over the factory.”
#7 Are You Planning On It?
"Are you pregnant?" After I said no, they asked, "Are you planning to get pregnant?" It was a research position in the UK. The research was in computer science and there was nothing dangerous, just working with programming. If you didn’t know, that question is illegal to ask here. I reported her eventually, but nothing was done.
#8 Government Agent
Someone literally once asked me, "What kind of adult material do you like?" I was in the process of getting a government job that required a high-security clearance. At the time, I was being interviewed by an agent. Most of the questions were pretty basic up until that point, but that one caught me out in left field.
#9 Stag Night
“Would you be okay with going shirtless?” It was a small private casino company that mostly did charity fake money events with prizes like champagne and chocolates. They also did things like corporate gigs, etc. I was hired as a blackjack croupier and that was the job I went for. I thought it would be corporate and charity events, dealing blackjack.
The woman interviewing me gave me the job, then asked would I be willing to wear just collars and cuffs like a male stripper. Turns out, they also did stag and hen nights and would ask new employees if they'd like to be considered for those shifts. But it requires the women to wear bikinis and men to wear only collars and cuffs and dress pants. They paid twice the rate for it. I was not expecting that question.
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#10 Take a Chance on Me
I had a guy end my interview by asking me what my favorite ABBA song was. I was so caught off guard and honestly kind of creeped out because I couldn't figure out how he knew that I loved ABBA. I found out later that when he spoke to my references, he asked them to tell him something about me that wasn't on my resume. My old boss told him that I was a huge ABBA fan.
#11 A Big Show
I had an adversarial interview once. I passed the skills interview and was sent on to the guy who would be my manager if I got the job. He made a big show of throwing my resume in the trash and told me the next best use would be to "wipe his butt with it" since he went to Yale and I didn't. He then asked why I thought I deserved the job. I didn't say anything, just got up and walked out.
#12 Strange Questions
I was a private nanny. I have been asked many questions that wouldn't be considered appropriate in any other job interview. I've been asked: How often I shower. Whether I have ever been to a therapist. If I’m promiscuous. If I have ever had an affair with an employer. How much I typically eat in a day. Do I have a partner? What religion I am. Whether I was gay or straight. If I had ever been bribed or had anyone ever attempt to bribe me. Whether I had ever taken inappropriate pictures. The list goes on.
#13 Play the Game
“Listen I have nothing against hiring a chick for the job, but I can’t afford to have you go off on maternity leave, so are you planning on getting knocked up in the near future?” Don’t get me wrong. I know that question is 100% illegal, but I’m a practical woman who knows sometimes you just have to play the game.
#14 A Distraction
I think the most appalling thing I was ever asked was, "Can you make your breasts smaller? They might be a distraction for some of our patients here." This was at a hospital… and I wasn't wearing anything provocative. I just have a big chest. I didn't get the job and they told me it was because I was too inexperienced.
#15 Sarcastic Response
A while back I got out of the navy. That old saying, "swear like a sailor" is true. I applied for a program called “Helmets to Hard Hats” that finds jobs in skilled labor trades for veterans. My father is good friends with a guy who is in charge of the local branch of an elevator company. So, I applied to the international union of elevator constructors and was granted an interview. Union interviews, as I’m told, usually consist of several prominent members of the union. In this case, it included my father's friend.
I showed up to the interview and sat down with five high-ranking union members. My name is Richard. My Dad's friend asked, " So, Richard what do you like to go by? Rick, Ricky, Richard... Dick? Before I could stop myself, I sarcastically replied, "It's Johnson actually." I pretended like everything was normal and the interview continued after an awkward pause. I did get the job and was admitted as an apprentice. Everyone still calls me Johnson.
#16 What If, What If, What If
I was asked over the span of about five questions if I would let employees steal. “What would you do if you saw a customer walk out the door with a product?” I said, “I would tell the manager and not confront them.” They then asked, “What if it was your store?” and I said that I would try to stop them or call the authorities.
Then, they asked, “What if it was an employee trying to take something really cheap, like a water bottle?” I said, “I wouldn’t let them steal, so I’d tell a manager.” But this interviewer wouldn’t let up. “What if they have been having family troubles and their checks haven’t come in so they have no money but need that water?” So I said I’d offer to pay for them so they don’t feel like they have to steal. “What if you left your wallet at home that day?” God, shut up. What am I even supposed to say to that?
#17 Following Through
I was the interviewer and asked the candidate to tell me about a time that they had to have a difficult conversation with someone. His answer? "Well, my friend's boyfriend was hurting her, so I told him that I would kick his butt if he didn't stop. He didn't stop, so I had to follow through and beat him up. It was hard, but I had to follow through on my commitment to helping my friend." He did not get hired for the job of working with children.
#18 Both Your Parents
I was in an interview for a college scholarship, not a job. I’m black and was being interviewed by a panel of four white interviewers and one black interviewer. One of the white interviewers asked, “How was growing up with both parents?” The black interviewer and I immediately locked eyes and he gave me a knowing look. I don’t remember how I answered, but I got the scholarship!
#19 Qualified Candidates
I was interviewing for a hiring manager position at a temp agency in Toledo, Ohio. The interviewer asked me, "How comfortable would I be if a business client only wanted to hire certain types of employees?" I probed for more information. After several probing questions, it was apparent that some of the businesses that hired this agency to find talent only wanted people from certain zip codes and wanted to omit certain zip codes altogether. I didn’t get the job because I stated that I would find and deliver the most qualified candidate regardless of where they lived. I’m in a much better place now.
#20 What Do You See?
M61. Late 70's State College. I was looking for a part-time gig while going through school. A dude at a small engineering firm called me in response to my resume and arranged a 7:00 p.m. interview since I had class until 6. The first 20 minutes were fine and fairly standard questions. He then pulled out a few “inkblot” type sheets of paper and asked, "What do you see?"
Nothing struck me, so he folded the paper in half and held it up to the light. The images blended to become a silhouette of a guy on all fours getting boned by another guy. I noped out of there and did not get hired. It’s sadly amusing now, as I was far more innocent and didn't appreciate the sketchiness of that situation. I hope the guy wasn't ever successful in conning naive undergrads to work there with him.
#21 Thick Accent
I have a super French name (like Pierre De Fromage) and I am very American. I always get asked in job interviews what my nationality is. I also get a lot of people asking if I really am Pierre De Fromage after we talk on the phone or meet for the first time. Something about Pierre De Fromage doesn't make people think thick southern accent.
#22 Favorite Animal
I had an interviewer who unexpectedly asked me what my spirit animal was at the end of the interview. I didn't know what to say but the first thing that popped out of my head was a bear because the thought of hibernating and being lazy on cold seasons sounds like something I'd do. It was the stupidest reply I could give. He ended up being one of the best, if not the nicest and funniest boss I ever had.
#23 Who’s Who?
My first job was at a big medical center, where I had worked part-time in a related department. I was being hired to work for Gary and was being interviewed by Gary and his boss Neils as well as several other people. I was invited to a staff meeting just before the interview started. No one introduced me to anyone and must have figured I knew everyone. So I went through a day talking to all these people, not sure who was who. Significantly, I mixed up Gary and Neils since Gary acted like the top man and was very dominating whereas Neils said hardly anything. Somehow I got hired and worked there for many years.
#24 What’s Wrong Here?
I once had a cold on the day of a phone interview at a speech therapist’s office. I started the call by apologizing that I was losing my voice and explained I had a cold. The interviewer, a speech therapist, asked me twice what was "wrong with my voice.” The first time she asked, I repeated that I had a cold and asked if that was relevant to the interview. It was not, she assured me. The second time she asked, I told her thanks but I wasn't interested anymore.
#25 Vacated Position
This was for an IT security position. "If your employer asked you to do something illegal, would you do it?" Now, before anyone hollers that this isn't inappropriate, hold your horses. I found out later the job had been vacated by a friend of mine, who they fired after he refused to do something illegal for them.
#26 A Great Baker
I was applying for a job that almost always went to women — what would now be considered a social media representative. I was asked several questions by one of the mid-level folks about my technological expertise, my writing skills, etc. The director's first and only question was, "The person who used to have this job before you used to always bake cookies and brownies and bring them in for us. Do you know how to make brownies?"
The mid-level person quickly said, "Uh, that's obviously not a part of the job." The director said, "But I'm still curious." I gave a noncommittal answer, basically saying I certainly enjoyed baking stuff. I didn't get the job. It went to a cute young woman who was terrible at the job, but I'm sure she was a great cook.
#27 Pretend Call
I worked admin for a while just out of high school. I was interviewing for this answering service that was mostly women in their 40s and 60s, a pretty small operation. There were no men at all other than the owner. They answered for the electric company at night like when the power went out, a lot of doctor’s after hours and things like that.
Well, everything was going great until they told me that there was a guy renting the office upstairs that they answered for. He owned an adult entertainment line and asked if I was comfortable transferring his calls. I was 18, rather naive and had no idea what they meant. So I said sure, why wouldn’t I? They then started asking me if I minded listing my measurements on the phone for them and to run through a practice call with them.
I was like… wait, what? They did a pretend call and breathed heavily, saying the rather seedy stuff. I was trying not to laugh because I finally understood the job. This woman interviewing me was like 350 lbs, 55 years old, and faking a man’s voice as she pretended she wanted to ram her rod into my… well you get the idea. I only thought, “So this pays minimum wage?”
#28 Never Responded
I mentioned I was getting married soon and she asked if I planned to have kids because it would interfere with the job. It was for hotel housekeeping. She also showed up an hour late to the interview and told me I had been late, scheduled two interviews for the same time, and suggested I was lying about a previous boss being sick. I got a callback and never responded.
#29 Passing the Test
I’m a teacher and was asked if I did substances. I don’t and have been clean and sober for a while. The interviewer asked me again, a little louder, “Do you do substances?” No. Well, he said, “I can’t tell you the number of people that have sat there and say they don’t and then fail the test!” I’m 50 years old, so what the heck? I went in the cup and passed.
#30 Agency Job
“You have to be fine to work 12-hour shifts with one break of 30 minutes in the middle.” When I explained that that was literally illegal, they replied with, “But it's the industry standard.” This was an interview from a government-funded job agency, they almost definitely make commissions on finding jobs. So they don't care if you have a bad job because then they get two commissions instead of one.
#31 That’s Not Allowed
I was a young female cabinet maker applying for a summer job in a joinery workshop. I answered all of his questions, which I could tell confused him. So, he gave me some side-eye and asked, “Uh, how strong are you?” A lady in an office behind him shouted out, “You’re not allowed to ask that!” I got the job. Turns out, it was his wife shouting at him.
#32 Forget About It
The very first job I interviewed for was a movie theater while I was still in high school. The manager asked, “Are you available Sunday morning?” to which I said yes. The manager then asked, So you don't attend church Sunday morning?” I just said no, I was free. “Oh, so you're going to burn? I was like, What? Huh?” The manager just went, “Nothing, it's fine.”
#33 Soaps in the West
"If hired, would you refrain from wearing deodorant or using scented soaps and shampoos?" Apparently, the company was owned by an Indian family that really didn't like the smell of all the scented personal hygiene products we use in the west. That was the opening question. The rest of the interview was awkward because all I could smell was my deodorant and I began to worry I applied too much. I just sort of sabotaged the interview by downplaying my experience, didn't ask any follow-up questions and got out of there. I never heard back from them.
#34 Never Contact Me
I was once asked if I was pregnant or thinking of starting a family. He looked at my ring and asked if I had kids, then asked if there was any reason for me to not come to work. I don't have kids, but those are highly illegal questions. I left and when they called me back a few months later about a job opening. I told them how I felt about the interview and to never contact me again.
#35 It’s Unethical
My co-worker and I worked in mental health. He was asked at an interview how he felt about relationships with clients (this was for an addictions clinic). He gave the response that he wouldn't consider it and that it would be unethical. Apparently, their response was that it was fine and that they had done so before. He added that "it felt like they were trying to convince" him that it was something he should do. He didn't accept the job.
#36 Theme Park Experience
A while ago, I worked for a pharma-supply company with fewer than 20 people. The place I worked for also had a high percentage of employees who had amusement park experience. In my interview, I was told by human resources that I was not allowed to ask the engineering interns, "Do you have any theme park experience?"
#37 In Hindsight
I was asked if I was gay by the owner with the other employees sitting around. It caught me off guard and I responded with a no and he said, “Good.” I told my buddy who worked there about it a month later and he told me he was asked the same thing. In hindsight, I should have said something but I was only 18 and just wanted a job.
#38 Good Kisser
I was a bit nervous at my first job interview for a full-time job when I was 18. At the time, I applied as a wedding dress salesperson. I think the owners sensed that I was nervous because one asked me if I had a boyfriend and if working on the weekends would give me less time with him. Before I could answer, the second owner asked, “and is he a good kisser?” All I could muster is, “Oh, he’s alright.” I then spent the rest of the interview discussing whether or not they can plan a wedding between me and the good kisser. Anyway, I got the job, worked there for five years and married the good kisser!
#39 Challenged to a Duel
My future boss asked to duel me in Mortal Combat. I was confused and concerned until he showed me that they had a Mortal Kombat 2 arcade machine. He kicked my butt solidly. Honestly, it seemed a little unfair considering they all had a machine in their break room and I hadn’t played the thing since high school.
#40 Speed Dating
I was at a hiring fair, so think speed dating for teachers. My last meeting was with a woman representing an all-girls boarding school. She started it out by insulting her administration and saying that they were useless, which is why she was there. She proceeded to ask if I was gay, as that was the only way I was allowed to do certain jobs at the school.
"What is your religion?" Now, my country is fairly secular and it's illegal to ask that question, but apparently, there are companies that have an unwritten policy about not hiring Jehova's Witnesses. I guess they usually end up asking for days off or don't even go to work in order to go door-to-door preaching.
#42 You Shut Down
I once applied for a position working for a school for kids with behavioral issues. I had already worked with kids who had autism for a few years. During the interview, the "dean" came in late as his assistant had already started asking me questions like, "Do you play games?" He seemed really disinterested. He then asked me, "Why did it take you seven years to get your bachelor's degree?"
I tried to explain that I had a minor, had financial issues and had car issues so I only went part-time for a couple of years. He pushed it. "I know that, but why did it take you seven years?” As I had paused to think of an answer, he pointed out, "You shut down!" The assistant basically parroted this. At the end of the interview, he told me he did all that to "test me" and then asked in an insecure tone, "So I bet this has been one of your more memorable interviews, huh?"
#43 Weird Vibes
I had a friend refer me to a job. I emailed back and forth with the manager a few times and after the third or fourth email, he decided to rank me. He made a lot of all my positive attributes by writing, “+1 you have experience” and “-1 your schedule is complicated” and stuff like that. During the interview, he asked me if I had a husband, where I lived, etc.
He also told me if I was hired, I couldn’t work for anyone else (I already had a part-time job) and was looking to supplement. He was offering me seven dollars less than what I was currently making and told me that was the fairest rate he could offer. I ended up getting tons of weird vibes about the company as a whole, in addition to his strange character.
#44 Completely Shocked
I was once asked about my religious upbringing in a job. I'm a teacher. The new principal was apparently a heavy born-again Christian-type. My friends who had recommended me for the position did not have similar questions with the previous principal and were completely shocked I was asked that. I’m not religious and did not get the job.
#45 Wait, It’s Real?
The person I was interviewing with once had the nerve to ask me if my chest was real. We stumbled onto the topic of talking about the uniform and I voiced my concerns over it not fitting. He said, “Well you should have thought of that.” When I asked what he meant by that, he said, "Wait, is your chest is real?"
#46 Ketchup Bottle
After my second interview with a prestigious agency in Manhattan, I was invited to lunch to “meet the team.” That turned out to be a thinly veiled way to get the company to pay for lunch, but it was actually a good way for a small team to get to know me well enough to know whether I'd fit in. Everything was going really well, until our food came.
I picked up a ketchup bottle to put it on my burger and fries. It was one of those short fat Heinz bottles and someone hadn't screwed the cap on properly. As soon as I shook the bottle, ketchup flew three feet in the air, all over my suit and one of the people I was interviewing with. It was a happy ending, though. I got the job both because they said I handled it so well and probably because they felt sorry for me.
#47 Choose One
I was asked after the interview by the supervising manager, "If you want to work here, you have to drop out of college since we would want you to work full time. Do you want to work or to finish your degree?" I was applying for a part-time job for a call center company back when I was 18 in order to support myself.
#48 Moving On
A guy I used to work with told me once that one time he was interviewing for a church for a pastoral position. During the interview, they asked him what his favorite curse word was. They just asked him out of nowhere and it completely caught him off guard. He just flat out said that it was F-word, in front of the three pastors interviewing him. They laughed and moved on with the interview.
#49 Do You Know Where You Are?
I'm a teacher and I was interviewing at a high school. I was only 23 and my current position was at a middle school, but I student taught at a high school and am licensed to teach high school. The principal's first question was, "Where do you teach?" Like okay, did you look at my resume? When I told him the middle school I was at he asked, "You know this is a high school, right?" with total attitude. It was as if I was a moron who didn't know where I applied.
#50 Never Picked Up
When I was in my very early 20s, I applied for some assistant position for a jewelry dealer. My interview was at 4:00 p.m. and the guy kept me there for almost three hours, asking me all sorts of random non-work-related questions. Plus, he asked personal questions about me. I was so uncomfortable but didn’t say anything and just prayed that it would end.
By that time, there was also no one there since the workday was until 5:00. I wish I spoke up or excused myself but I was so young and didn’t want to be rude. The guy ended up calling me for several weeks after from different numbers (he’d leave messages to call him). I was scared, so I never picked up the phone.