In an ideal world, you would answer every question perfectly in an interview, dazzle everyone in their seats with your brilliance and then leave with a lucrative job offer before you even get to the door. When the filter is off, you can be scared. You worry about all the things that could go wrong which will make it even more difficult to be relaxed. Next time you’re in an interview, don’t forget about these horror stories. Even though these people failed the interviews in the end, they can still be grateful for what happened to them:

1. Lipgloss 101

“I was interviewing with Ann Shoket, then the editor-in-chief of Seventeen, where I’d wanted to work for as long as I can remember. I bought a brand new dress specifically for the occasion, and did as the career gurus say and tried my outfit on the night before, just to make sure nothing was making noise or bunching up on me. On the big day, while I was waiting in the lobby to be called in by Ann’s assistant, I touched up with one last swipe of lip gloss before going into her office. Afterward, I thought to myself, Hey, that went pretty well! Confident as a Kardashian, I marched into the elevator, which had a mirror along the back wall. To my horror, I noticed a huge glob of Bobbi Brown lip gloss on my teeth. Yep, it’d been there the whole time. Luckily, Ann judged me on more than just my makeup and hired me for the job. But if you ever interview me for something down the road, you can bet I’ll be wearing very clear, practically invisible ChapStick!” —Devin, 27

[Related: How Your Wardrobe Can Affect Your Career]

2. Repeat Offender

“My Princeton interview was at Yeshiva University with an Orthodox Jewish alumnus who was in grad school there. I had done my research previously and had decided I would ask about the famous eating clubs of Princeton, as that’s something unique to the school and fairly common among people who go there. This was turning into one of those job interview horror stories.

My interviewer explained that since he followed kosher laws, he was unable to partake and could only eat at one cafeteria in Princeton that kept kosher. I felt bad for the question and felt like an idiot that I had asked someone with dietary restrictions about food clubs, so I decided to go for a joke and say that the kosher cafeteria was like a mini eating club.

He kind of just went silent after that and changed topics. And that’s when I knew I was never getting into Princeton. At my Harvard Law School interview, I talked about my place in the classroom and tried to describe how I was sociable and friendly with my teachers, often joking around with them. When the interviewer asked if I was the class clown, I knew I wasn’t getting into Harvard.” —Grant, 24

3. Clash of the Time Zones

“I’m originally from New York, and at that time, I was planning to relocate to San Francisco. I was job-hunting and had reached the final interview round with a start-up accelerator. They requested an in-person meeting, so I meticulously planned my day.

To prepare, I booked a Drybar blowout well before my 1 p.m. interview. I sat there, relaxed in jeans, with no makeup, enjoying a rom-com while getting my hair done. That’s when I decided to check my phone and saw a message from the CEO. To my horror, they were all waiting for me. Where was I?

In a sudden panic, I checked my calendar. The invite had indeed said 1 p.m., but due to time zone differences, it had synced to Pacific Standard Time, showing as 10 a.m. on my actual calendar. I hadn’t noticed this discrepancy.

I dashed out, hurried home to change, and applied my makeup in the car while my boyfriend drove me to the interview as fast as he could. I arrived half an hour late. Fortunately, they were understanding, but I knew this was an exception.Words of wisdom from this experience: Always, always, always double-check your calendar—and the time zone—before an interview! This was one of those job interview horror stories you always hear about but never think will happen to you.”—Elizabeth, 27

4. Food Faux Pas

“It was my very first in-person interview. The bank had flown me out to NYC and arranged for my stay in a hotel. Excited, I decided to grab some food and then returned to my hotel to shower. However, during the shower, I began feeling unwell. It turned out to be the onset of food poisoning, my first and only experience with it.

I spent almost the entire night on the bathroom floor, alone and miserable. To make matters worse, I got my period. Feeling extremely ill, I mistook it for the stomach flu. Concerned, my mom called the hotel doctor to speak with me. Sleep only came in brief spurts; I managed about an hour and a half of rest around 4 a.m.

Despite the ordeal, I had to prepare for the interview. With great effort, I tamed my frizzy hair and tried to pull myself together. Remarkably, I was put on hold after the interview. This was notable since only about 4 out of 20 candidates achieved this status, and just 1 or 2 received an offer.

Exhausted, I declined an invitation to Shake Shack from another interviewee from my school. I haven’t been able to enjoy that place since. The journey back was equally taxing, involving a trip through the airport to Chicago, followed by a connecting flight to South Bend. Despite the effort, I ended up not working at the bank. This incident became one of those bad interview stories you rarely believe until they happen to you.” —Laura, 23

5. To Infinity and Beyond

“A family friend suggested I meet with the owner of a PR firm to learn about the industry. Expecting a casual chat, I was surprised when he took me out for what turned out to be an interview lunch. We sat for two hours, and I barely touched my food as he presented me with various scenarios, asking for creative solutions. The situation felt overwhelming.

After lunch, he took me to his office and announced it was time for a writing test. With no internet or additional instructions, he asked me to write an article about staying fit in inclement weather. I managed to write three-quarters of a page in 20 minutes. A week later, he called to praise my writing and invited me back to meet more team members, which turned into another three-hour session.

Days later, he wanted me to attend a day-long ‘innovation workshop.’ I couldn’t make it, but he had me come in again for discussions with him and his VP. During each visit, he quizzed me on current events, urging me to stay updated with the news.

Finally, he promised a decision by the following week. Yet, he conducted another interview before calling back half an hour later to offer me the job. It was the most bizarre and unexpected interview process I’ve ever been through. This experience certainly adds to my collection of interview stories.” —Caitlin, 23

6. An Unexpected Visitor

“I arrived early for an interview at a coffee shop. To my surprise, my interviewer was already there, waiting. This set the tone for an awkward start. We began discussing my work in campus ministry, focusing on educating students about the struggles of the less fortunate.

Suddenly, a homeless man entered the coffee shop and approached our table. I tried to gently disengage him, apologizing and explaining that I didn’t have any money. This approach had worked for me in the past, but not this time.

The man confronted me, upset that I hadn’t given him a chance to speak, and had immediately dismissed him. He spoke for about three minutes, expressing his hope that someone would treat me the way I had treated him. During this, my interviewer remained silent, adding to the awkwardness.

After the man left, I attempted to lighten the mood with a quick joke. However, the atmosphere remained tense for the rest of the interview. This experience became one of those bad interview stories you never expect to happen.” —Taylor, 24

Read: 5 Things Never to Say in an Interview

Photo: Robert Daly / Getty Images

Join Forces of Women Professionals

Stay empowered, inspired, and connected with a network of incredible women. Subscribe to our email updates today and be part of a vibrant community driving change together. Don’t miss out on exclusive content, events, and opportunities. Together, we’re more vital! Subscribe now!