An HR Horror Story

Photo by Zura Modebadze on

It’s Helloween tomorrow and the #HRHour Twitter chat was as scary as anything last night:

My story goes like this…

I used to work in retail and interviewed people for shop floor roles. I was asked to interview a warehouse worker one day and, at the appointed time, I went out and got the man – let’s call him Jeff – from the reception.

Jeff plonked his (very full) carrier bag down, sat on the chair opposite my desk, tried to look comfortable in a very new suit – so new it still had the tags on it.

I started asking Jeff the questions I had – what’s your experience, why this organisation, etc – and Jeff relaxed. He sat back in the chair and spread his legs as he felt comfortable.

After a moment I realised his flies were open. I tried to avoid looking.

Jeff wasn’t wearing underwear.

We completed the interview and mentioned to Jeff that his zip was open. He smiled, thanked me, and said we’d be in touch.

On the way back to the reception, I asked what he was up to now, heading home maybe?

No – Jeff replied – I’m going back to the shop to take the suit back.

The carrier bag was filled with his other clothes and he had ‘bought’ the suit with the intention in returning it.

There are horror stories, and horror stories. Yes it was an awkward moment for me but it must have been much more awkward for Jeff to get a suit knowing he was going to be taking it back.

It’s a bigger horror story about the expectations we place on people to ‘dress appropriately’ for interviews and the expectations that we set people.

We don’t know the struggles that people have. We don’t know their path to the point that you interact with them. We don’t know what will happen with their path after they’ve met you. We don’t know how resourceful they have had to be to get by.

If you meet Jeff, be kind.


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