HR Candidate Search

The Eight Scariest Recruiting Stories We Ever Heard

October 27, 2020

To kick off Halloween week, we’ve rounded up the scariest, spookiest, and downright craziest true recruitment stories our consultants could remember! Like all good scary stories, these tales are true; only the names were changed to protect the innocent (or not so innocent). The accounts are first hand, in the words of the talent acquisition expert who lived through the experience. Happy Halloween!



Years ago, I worked at one of the big-name executive search firms. The firm’s policy was never to delete a candidate out of our ATS. However, from time to time, we would attempt to contact a candidate and discover he or she had passed away. We would then label the candidate deceased in our database. One year, I “deceased” 7 candidates within 11 months, more than any recruiter in history. A deceasing record! My colleagues lovingly nicknamed me, “The Reaper.”



We had a candidate go through an onsite interview and was rejected with little fanfare. We discovered he was moonlighting as a magician (not the reason for his rejection, however). Later, another person appears in the recruiting process for the same position, and we notice that this person looks an awful lot like the magician we’d previously rejected. We proceed with suspicion and ask if he knows the magician candidate. He says that it is his twin brother. We press him that it is highly coincidental to have the same career path and be applying for the same job as your identical twin. He proceeds to provide evidence in the form of doctored photos and a fake social media profile. The candidate ghosted us after he realized his magic trick didn’t work on our team!

Check out the spookiest #recruiting horror stories straight from the @IQTalent team:Click to Tweet


It was truly frightening to witness a Senior Director at a firm where I used to work throw a temper tantrum - literally, a grown man stomping his feet, fists clenched, and arms flailing, red-faced, screaming tantrum, when he didn't get his way. This tantrum occurred multiple times a month. After I moved on, I read in the news a few years later that he was convicted and in prison for assault.



I was in an interview with a candidate alongside the president of the company where I used to work. We’d flown 2500 miles to meet this candidate in person. Ten minutes into the interview, the president said, “I’m sorry; you’re not the guy for us.” He got up and left me alone with the candidate. Talk about an awkward silence!



I was once working to convert a contractor and met him at the standard procedural drug test. The contractor initially blew a .08; he denied that he was drunk, claiming the breathalyzer was incorrect. So we waited for 45 minutes and reran the test. This time, he blew a .11. It was 8:45 am.



We had a candidate bring his mother to the interview. We had a new hiring manager who allowed the candidate’s mother to join us (bad idea). Mom sat quietly during the interview, but in the end, she spoke up, pleading with the hiring manager to give her son the job because “she needed new teeth.”

Ready for a scare? @IQTalent rounded up the scariest, spookiest, and downright craziest true stories about #recruiting their consultants could remember.Click to Tweet


I once forgot to send a candidate a calendar invite for our interview. Before I could send it or apologize, he called me and left a message threatening to go to my CEO and other management to have me fired. He then did his research and found emails to all our upper management, including the CEO, my company's founder, and our practice manager. He sent a scathing review demanding I be fired and proceeded to call me some rather non-PC names in the process (in writing!) Fortunately, my company's management forgave me and decided it was the candidate that was crazy-scary. We took him out of our database and never contacted him again!



When I worked for an agency several years ago, I had recruited a candidate for a very rare type of software developer. I landed him an interview at a large oil company, and I was very excited for him to fly in for the interview. However, I’d never met the candidate in person. I picked him up at the hotel to drive him to his interview, and he was wearing a purple toupee. A. Purple. Toupee.

Enjoy your Halloween, fellow recruiters, and the next time you live through a scary recruiting situation, remember you are not alone! Dust off the cobwebs on your recruiting processes and let IQTalent Partners upgrade your tactics if you dare!

The recruiting you need. When you need it. Contact IQTalent Partners today