A sub trope of the Travelling Salesman Montage, specifically of the job interview iteration. However, that trope focuses on the interviewer, whereas in Terrible Interviewees Montage, the interviewees are the problem. They are all dreadfully unsuitable (and often slightly unhinged) leaving the poor interviewer traumatized to some degree. This may be a job interview, a performance audition, speed-dating, or any number of situations.
The montage usually ends with someone perfect (or at least, not QUITE so horrible) for the role coming along and being hired. That, or the interviewer calling it a day, only to find the perfect person for the role outside of an interview situation a scene or two later. Alternatively, the interviewer already has someone who would fit the job just fine, but is trying to avoid hiring them for some personal reason. The series of awful interviewees is then a Rule of Drama plot device to force them to hire someone they don't want to have around.
The advent of speed dating provides an increasingly common premise for the appearance of this trope in any Romantic Comedy.
If the montage focuses on the interviewer's reactions, it may overlap with Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill.... Compare the Reality Show equivalent, Hopeless Auditionees.
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There was this commercial for the self-help section of FHM magazine that aired in Singapore, depicting a guy who can't say anything but lame pickup lines, or score a job interview to save his life. Yes, a montage with just one guy.
Match.com aired a commercial showing a luckless man dating a variety of creepy, awkward, or unpleasant women, before cutting to their slogan and services.
Polar Bear of Shirokuma Cafe interviews several potential candidates for part-time workers at his cafe, but they all display their typical animal traits, such as the tortoise being very slow, the baboon doing nothing but eating, and Panda stating he had no intention to work. Polar Bear fails them all and hires a human girl named Sasako right on the spot when she enters the cafe, carrying a sloth.
At one point, the Wizard held auditions for the fourth member of his latest Frightful Four in Fantastic Four comics. Applicants included an overweight cabbie in a bird suit ("The Osprey") and Captain Ultra, whose strength, flight, and gullibility made him a shoo-in... Until he fainted in the presence of a lit match.
In the latest Fantastic Four cartoon, this scene was reproduced with the Fantastic Four auditioning for new members after the Thing lost his powers. The Fabulous Frog-Man knocked himself out bouncing around, Texas Twister wrecked the audition area, and Squirrel Girl didn't even get to do or say anything before she was rejected. Oh, if only they knew... The cartoon also includes the Captain Ultra bit almost exactly the same, except replace "lit match" with "Johnny giving a flaming thumbs-up".
The Legion of Super-Heroes frequently holds open auditions, and, as you might expect, most of the people trying out are total losers. see here for a pretty complete list (with a nifty parody at the end). Some of them aren't that bad, are they?
In a subversion, a number of Legion rejects form the Legion of Substitute Heroes, who do good work as a sort of reserve team putting their unconventional powers to work in the field when the main team can't handle all aspects of a crisis.
In one issue, the villainous Dynamo Boy, having tricked the rest of the Legion into quitting, held his own auditions — and while he was largely met with the same type of also-rans who show up to other Legion try-outs, he turned down a couple of decent candidates for petty reasons. His reasons being that, using some future technology to get a scan of their personalities, judged they were too decent and wouldn't be converted to evil so easily.
Geoff Johns later retconned the reason as to why some applicants were rejected, citing that Saturn Girl had done psychic profiles on them during their try-outs. While some were rejected because their power was lame or they lacked suitable control, others were rejected because they had a variety of psychotic tendencies and deeply disturbed psyches.
The Image series Wildguard: Casting Call revolved around a Reality TV show where superheroes competed for a spot on an auspicious team. The first rounds were... bad, and included heroes with lame powers (like Adhesor, who sticks to things), heroes who act more like villains (like Crimson Phantom Vengeance), and "Popstar", a singer who thought she was auditioning for American Idol. The next round was only slightly better. Toughlon and Wannabe made a lot of the others wish they didn't try out in the first place.
A seventies Daredevil comic showed Matt Murdock interviewing possible replacements for Karen Page. Up until Becky Blake, all applicants were pretty hopeless. "No I can't exactly type. But I make a great cup of coffee. If you like instant."
Some of the possible new League Members in the membership drive montage from Justice League International #24 were less qualified than others:
Oberon: (off panel) Have you ever been convicted of a felony? The Creeper: Hmmm... You said convicted, right?
A similar montage from JLA #5:
Damage: Hi, name's Damage. Maybe you've heard of me... Sorry about the ceiling. And the... ah... the landing pad, and the other thing... Martian Manhunter: We'll fix it. Next. Hitman: Name's Monaghan, Tommy Monaghan. I've got X-Ray vision and telepathy and I kill superpeople — for money. Martian Manhunter: Next. And please, no smoking. Hitman: (to next interviewee) Don't mention money. They don't like it.
Slightly subverted with Max Mercury, a very experienced and qualified speedster. He only showed up as a favor to The Flash, and because he'd never been on the moon before (and wanted to take pictures).
In Powers, suspects are often interviewed in this fashion.
Before Watchmen: A bunch of people try out for the Minutemen. Most are rejected for being... less than effective, like a guy in a sweatshirt and a bucket named hank, and Liberty Lass, an over weight woman who can sing, dance and cook. One of them, The Iron Lid, is a guy in full body armor and a blow-torch, and can be seen as a bad guy later on. Nite-Owl is the only accepted one. It's interesting to note, that Mothman was rejected at the interview, but was added to the team later.
The Disney comic story "Amelia e la grande svolta" has Magica de Spell interview potential candidates to work as her monster servants. All the monsters turn out to either be frightfully incompetent, or have absurd demands (such as a paid six-month leave every year.)
Deadpool has an inversion where the montage is of superheroes reacting to his asking to be let on the team.
A series of W.I.T.C.H. short stories in which the Guardians had been roped in helping with a musical based on the first arc of the series (Will had been roped with the script) has one for the casting. One was good but got rejected by Cornelia for being a brunette trying for her role, but the others were: a superpunk emoboy (rejected as "Too much"); a cheerleader (rejected as "Too much cheerleader"); a guy who forgot his lines; someone who managed to get rejected as "TOO MUCH TOO MUCH!"; an Hamlet; a girl who cried after reading the script (it was too moving); Jack Sparrow in person ("Too much pirate"); and the professional actress Madison Johnson, who had been part of the jury with Will and Cornelia until that moment and was really good but got rejected by Will for being an Insufferable Geniusand scaring away applicant with her very presence. Will & co. later found the actresses for the main roles (theirs) going around and meeting girls with similar characteristics and personalities to themselves, including one so similar to Will in personality, interests and background that Taranee and Will got spooked out.
Films — Live-Action
One of the funnier parts in Armageddon, with the twist being that all the guys being shown had already been hired on and the higher-ups were regretting this decision as they saw their psych evaluations.
Chick: (very hostile) You know I think this might be the most uncomfortable room that I've ever been in, in my life. AJ: (looking at the Rorschach cards) Here's Harry giving me a hard time. And, uh, this is Harry tellin' me it's not good enough. And, uh, this is Harry tellin' me I can't marry his daughter. Thanks alot, appreciate it. Rockhound: You wanna compare brainpans? I won the Westinghouse prize when I was 12, big deal. Published at 19, so what. I got a double doctorate from MIT at 22, Chemistry and Geology. I taught at Princton for two and a half years. Why do I do this? Because the money's good, the scenery changes and they let me use explosives, okay? Bear: (crying) I'm okay, it's just... I think I need a hug right now, okay?
"I was Joan of Arc in a former life..." "I have a secret... I worship Satan!" "I'm almost single. My man's on Death Row!"
The Commitments, about the story of Jimmy Rabbitte attempting to put together a soul band in Dublin, features a montage of unsuccessful for applicants to his band (including Cajun bands, riverdancers, Joni Mitchell wannabes and one poor deluded boy who only turned up because he assumed the line of people outside the door meant Jimmy was selling drugs).
Mrs. Doubtfire invokes this trope: it's a telephone interview, and Robin Williams' character secretly changed the phone number for the want ad, so he's the only applicant. He uses his voice-acting skills to make up all sorts of terrible prospects before taking on the Mrs. Doubtfire persona, in order to make Mrs. Doubtfire a shoo-in for hiring.
Mystery Men has one of these with useless superheroes. Not that the protagonists themselves aren't lame to begin with, but these guys just suck even worse. The Waffler (Dane Cook), Ballerina Man, PMS Avenger... (that last one only works 4 days out of the month).
Inverted in Shallow Grave, where three roommates interview potential lodgers. The interviewees are regular people, while the roommates take the opportunity to grill them with sadistic and bizarre questions.
Drillbit Taylor subverts this. The interviewees all seem properly qualified... then all bolt after finding out the low wages.
Audition has one of these: an audition is held, nominally for a TV role, but its actual purpose is to find a woman for the main character to date. One woman removes her coat to reveal a yellow bikini underneath, another actually strips naked. Of course, given who he ultimately ends up picking, he really would have been better off with any of the failed auditionees.
In The Producers, the collection of misfits who turn out to audition for the lead in the play Springtime for Hitler. The twist being that, even then, none of them are bad enough. It also gives us this memorable line when they finally get a good.. er.. appropriate candidate: "That's our Hitler!"
Bring It On features a montage of unsuitable candidates trying out for the cheerleading team, before Missy comes in and blows them all away with her gymnastic talent. Not that they were all useless: the rejects include a ballet-dancer (male), a dancer with a routine aimed at titilation (female), and the younger sister on one of the active cheerleaders who simply seems underage (and unenthusiastic).
The Replacements also has one for the team's cheerleaders. Which was a footage of actresses trying out for the roles of the cheerleaders, which the creators have decided to incorporate into the film. Interestingly, the two the head cheerleader ends up hiring don't even get an audition. She probably figures that, being strippers, they have plenty of dance experience. She even asks them to bring some of their "coworkers". The result is... interesting.
The Master of Disguise had such a montage for applicants for the title character's assistant. However, said montage didn't show any of the supposedly horrible interviewees, instead consisting entirely of the mentor yelling "GET OUT!", "FREAK", or simply "OUT" over and over again.
The auditions for the musical in Mr. Holland's Opus are classic. "We've been at this all day, and the only ingenue we seem to have is Todd Markham!"
No Reservations, when Catherine Zeta-Jones's chef character is trying to replace Aaron Eckhart's sous-chef character.
10 Things I Hate About You has this when Cameron and Michael interview their schoolmates to have one of them date Kate Stratford so Cameron could date her little sister Bianca as the girls' father has a oldest-one-dates-first rule.
Phantom of the Paradise features a segment in which Swan reviews the possible replacements for his unwanted star, Phoenix. Each of the applicants is given a bar or two of the Phantom's latest song to sing, one starting off where the other left off (usually about five seconds in): the winner of this little contest is Beef, an Ambiguously Gay glam-rocker chosen specifically to piss the Phantom off.
The Fabulous Baker Boys has a long line of terrible singers audition for the act, and the brothers are about to give up, and then Michelle Pfeiffer shows up...
A variant is used in Zodiac, where the cops interview a number of half-baked witnesses who think they know something about the killer. They finish off with someone who provides them with genuinely useful information that gives them their best lead.
Subverted in Up in the Air; the montages in the film are all people getting fired, not interviewing for a new job.
The first High School Musical features a montage of terrible wanna-be student actors as Ms. Darbus either snarked them or reacted in horror. Eventually, Ryan and Sharpay go last and are, essentially, the only people who deliberately audition that are remotely capable of acting or singing on key... thus getting the lead roles. Though Darbus still ends up catching Troy and Gabriella singing a duet after auditions are over and decides she wants callbacks with them. Of course, this still begs the question of who is going to play the rest of the parts if nobody else in the entire school can sing or act without breaking pitch, being genuinely creepy, or locking up with stage fright.
Singles, where most of the responses to Debbie's video dating tape are borderline psychotic, and the only guy worth considering "likes the way the world looks from a bicycle".
Let's Get Harry (1986). A group of American construction workers want go down to Columbia to rescue a colleague kidnapped by terrorists. They want to hire a mercenary to advise them — cue a series of Walter Mitty types in greens with outrageous claims on their previous military experience, before they get to Robert Duvall in a suit with a pre-prepared plan on how he's going to go about the job.
Played up as an audition scene in Pitch Perfect: Multiple "bad" singers audition among other, better ones who end up being main characters. The final audition is that of protagonist Beca, whose audition blows everyone away.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin includes a speed dating sequence that fits this trope completely, with the added humor of his individual friends' reactions to the same girls. The main character, failing to find a match at speed dating, even meets his real love interest in the following scene.
In The Fighting Temptations, the main character is looking for people to audition for a church choir. The interviewees include a girl who sings Amazing Freaking Grace badly, a bunch of kids who do a dance about Jesus baptizing them, a guy who sings "Isn't She Lovely" (including the instrumental) and some hillbilly who plays multiple mouth-related instruments but doesn't sing.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder starts (after a random kid's suicide attempt) with Van interviewing students to be his personal assistant. All the candidates are rejected. Later, Van receives the last candidate in his dorm — a shy Foreign Exchange Student from India named Taj. He gets the job not because of any qualifications but because he wants Van to teach him... things.
The Way of the Gun features a montage of the two main characters getting interviewed at a sperm bank. Being opinionated criminal thugs, they each give very suspicious or bizarre answers to simple questions.
The opening credits montage of This Is Spinal Tap includes on-the-street comments from fans saying what they like about the band. This being a mockumentary, the comments are carefully chosen to illustrate that Spinal Tap's fans are idiots.
Female Fan: It's like you become one with the guys in the band, I mean... there's... there's no division, I mean... you just... the music just unites... people... (beat)... with the players.
The Princess Diaries 2 has a downplayed variation, in which Mia has to pick her future groom from a slideshow. Among the pictures shown were those of a then-single Prince William, who was just there to be eyecandy, and this guy:
Charlotte: Antoine Suisson of Paris. Plays the harp. No title, but good family. Lilly: What about the title "husband?" Mia: Yeah, he's cute. Joe: His boyfriend thinks he's handsome, also. Mia and Lilly:Right on!
An Invoked and Justified Trope in the film Like Mike; a Heartwarming Orphan named Calvin gets some magic trainers that make him amazing at basketball, and he becomes a cash cow for Biddleman, the owner of his Orphanage of Fear. Naturally, this makes Biddleman very reluctant when Calvin asks him to keep looking for adoption possibilities, and he presents Calvin with a montage of candidates, most of whom are blatantly insane. Calvin is fully aware that Biddleman is deliberately screening out anyone who might be a possibility, but can't really do anything about it.
Schindler's List: Played with in a comic relief scene. A series of increasingly attractive girls with increasingly poor typing skills appear in Schindler's office, trying to get a job as his secretary. Schindler the incorrigible womanizer is in turn increasingly besotted. The sequence ends with Schindler slumped down in his chair, depressed, as an older, stern-looking woman types away at lightning speed.
The fifth book in the X-Wing Series has Wedge Antilles go through a series of misfits and psych cases while recruiting for Wraith Squadron, complete with much snarking from his 2IC. In a subversion, the oddball applicants are the ones he ends up taking on, since the idea is specifically to get a squadron on the cheap by filling it with last-chancers and dropouts. Well, he took a couple of normal-seeming ones too, but as it turned out all of them had issues. And Wedge did reject a few — the Talz who was good at flying combat but always flew on the edge of a nervous breakdown, the guy who stole the framed holo of Wedge's parents, and the one who was certain that all superiors were out to get him. All of the screwups he accepted were people who he believed had better qualities that could overcome their flaws, and he was right. The auditions also provided room for the (first) Lieutenant Kettch joke; his second-in-command, Wes, says that the next pilot is an Ewok specially modified in a lab with arm-and-leg prosthetics with which to reach the controls. After that, Wedge refuses to believe Wes when the latter claims that the next prospect is a Gamorrean... but he is, one who has been modified to be calmer and more intelligent.
In one of the Stephanie Plum books, Stephanie, Connie, and Lula get stuck trying to find a new staff member (Vinnie's out of town). Turns out the only hireable candidate isn't what she claims to be....
The first episode of Frasier, and again in a later season episode where Daphne moves out and they need to find a new housemate. Also after Frasier hires a matchmaker. He ends up falling for... the matchmaker.
On the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked", the crew is placed under arrest and subjected to interrogation. The resulting montage alternates between the serious (Mal, Shep, Zoe, Inara) and the hilarious (Jayne, Kaylee, Wash).
Inverted when George is interviewing students for a scholarship in Seinfeld; he picks a bad student after several — as he puts it — "annoying little overachievers".
In season one, when Cameron quits for the first time. It's not that the interviewees are so very awful, though, it's just that House is determined to find fault with everyone he interviews (since he doesn't really want to hire anyone new, but would rather have Cameron back). And of course, he wouldn't be House if he couldn't find something to hate in everyone he met...
Another episode has a variation on this, where House bets that Chase will do well in speed dating simply because he's pretty. What follows is a montage of Chase himself being the terrible interviewee as women continue to fawn over him.
Not to mention House's and Wilson's terrible dates.
When searching for a new employee for Rigby's. Some of the attendants were a man who hadn't bathed in 7 years and a naked one.
In another episode, Kenan and Kel are looking for actors to pose as Kenan's parents during a parent/teacher conference (It Makes Sense in Context). Two of the couples couldn't speak English (and the latter couple is Japanese while Kenan is clearly black), and the third couple (the one that they eventually decide upon) is made up of an obnoxious actor and a woman who is almost as dumb as Kel is.
Stargate SG-1, in the first episode of the season 9 Re Tool. Due to SG-1 being split up and unwilling to get back together, Mitchell goes through a host of inferior replacements, such as a language enthusiast, an overly-military soldier, and even two random scientists that only came to him in order to get an endorsement for some kind of android they were planning.
The first episode has one of these, when Sandra and Jack are interviewing for UCOS candidates. As well as Brian and Gerry (who appear towards the end), who are hired, some of the candidates include an overly-aggressive ex-police woman, a drunk, a very elderly ex-cop who suffers a heart attack as soon as he's offered the job, and a guy who walks in, sees Jack, mutters "Ah, shit..." to himself and walks right back out again. When the first thing the very first candidate to walk in does is cheerfully ask "This new unit — no blacks, obviously?", it's clear from Sandra and Jack's faces that they're expecting one of these.
Sandra also suffers through one of these while speed-dating.
Dead Like Me features one in the second season. George drags her heels in hiring someone, allowing the featured interviewees to make further appeals.
In the Wishbone rendition of a couple of bits of the story of David, after King Saul takes the suggestion to have a musician around to soothe his soul, the king and audience are "treated" to three musicians, one of whom plays two pipes at once; it actually sounds good for about one second before you and Saul realize that it's going to get incredibly, annoyingly repetitive extremely quickly. The last one delivers a blatt, almost prompting the king to give up... before a servant comes up and lets on that he knows of a shepherd boy who's good with a harp...
In the first episode of Pie in the Sky, detective-turned-restaurateur Henry Crabbe asks potential chefs how they would prepare a steak and kidney pie. Typically interviewees are shown to view something that simple as a task to produce it as quickly and cheaply as possible, while Henry wants quality, or claim that it's beneath the dignity of a chef to make such a common dish at all. The last interviewee impresses Henry with a technique which will take a day to produce, answers his questions quickly and decisively, then Henry sits back and says "I know you don't I? Breaking and entering..." — it turns out the boy learnt to cook in prison. He got the job.
In an episode, the guys are applying for a job at Fatso Burger, and give the worst possible answers, except for Eric. An example:
Interviewer: Tell me, what do you consider your best quality? Eric: Well, I'm a real people person. Hyde: I don't answer stupid questions. Fez: I speak Dutch. Kelso: My eyes. Oh, and I guess my butt too.
In another episode, the guys are in Canada, and are questioned in the same way by the Mounties.
Another episode uses this montage when the gang is trying to find Hyde a girl.
The game "Hats" on Whose Line Is It Anyway? uses this trope as inspiration; the most usual theme is "world's worst dating service videos".
Happens in the first episode of the second series of Men Behaving Badly when Gary is trying to find a new flatmate: the initial candidates interviewed consist of a layabout, an incomprehensible Geordie, a catatonic man, a seemingly normal man who turns out to have a disturbing fetish, three social inadequates, three psychopaths, a man with a big dog, and Gary's mother.
Happens in The L Word, when, in a flashback, Alice's college band is looking for a new bassist. A few hilariously bad players later, and a hot girl with bass skills gets the job, and subsequently helps Alice realize her attraction to girls.
In Green Wing, Caroline doesn't want to take The Ace, Angela, as a flatmate, but is eventually forced to do so when the other applicants include an unashamed web cam obsessed Casanova Wannabe and a Cloud Cuckoo Lander who didn't seem to quite get over the trauma of being an only child.
NCIS has a montage of bad witnesses after a bank robbery.
In 30 Rock, they hold open auditions for a new castmember of TGS, with horrible acts including several of the show's writers, a street performer dressed as a robot, and NBC anchor Brian Williams doing stand up comedy. In a twist, Jack doesn't choose the perfect candidate Liz wants, and instead picks the random guy dressed as a robot. Who actually becomes the new cast member, despite having no acting experience whatsoever and not even knowing what he was auditioning for.
In the episode "Honey Trap" of the British sitcom The Thin Blue Line, Inspector Fowler attempts to find someone who can replace Constable Habib in the upcoming trivia contest. He resorts to the perps in the detention room. Fat chance.
Power Rangers RPM has the Green Ranger audition, with candidates chosen by the resident Plucky Comic Relief, Ziggy. Interviewees include a ventriloquist and dummy (two for the price of one), a hula hoop girl who can't hula hoop (hypnotizing), and a mime (he's in a box). Then, when the Rangers insult his interviewees, he promises he'll find the perfect candidate, walks outside, and... discovers the perfect candidate. Only not so perfect, because she's a spy sent by the Big Bad. After discovering this, Ziggy himself ends up becoming the Green Ranger purely by accident.
One scene from Misfits, where Sally the probation worker is given the task of interviewing the young offenders, all of whom take it upon themselves to be as rude, annoying, sarcastic and/or angry as possible — apart from Simon, who despite being a deeply troubled and socially inept young man with a conviction for arson, is by far the most polite.
There was an unusual variant in one CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode where the protagonists were investigating the murder of a patient in a high-security mental hospital. The terrible interviewees in that case were the victim's Ax-Crazy fellow patients, and needless to say little information of value was forthcoming. The programme thoughtfully flashed up extracts from the patients' medical records between each clip just so the viewers would know what symptoms to expect.
The seventh season finale of The Office, "Search Committee", has the titular committee interview people for the position of regional manager. Notably, one of the interviewees was none other than David Brent, from the original British version of the show.
In Charmed's episode, "Rewitched", Paige went to a speed dating event at P3 and went though a montage of awful dates until she meets the last one, "Whit".
Used in the Boy Meets World episode "Band on the Run" when Cory and Shawn hold auditions to find new members for their fake band. However the trope was played with because one of the auditionees was actually talented but was rejected because he would make them look bad.
American Idol has several of these in the first couple of episodes of every season, usually capping off each montage with someone good.
A promo for Rizzoli & Isles shows the two leading ladies' reactions to a series of bad speed dates, alternating between the cop ("No, I did not bring my handcuffs.") and the medical examiner ("I can't write you a prescription."). By the end of the clip, the BFFs give up on dating and go out drinking with each other.
In the second episode of Covert Affairs, Annie, being the new girl is assigned to "walk-in" duty, as in attending everyone who "walks in" to report suspicious activity. Naturally, this tends to attract a lot of crazy people...
Crazy Guy: I know who killed Kennedy. Annie: It's been well-documented that Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Crazy Guy:Ted Kennedy.
An episode of Angel does this with Cordelia looking for apartments.
WKRP in Cincinnati does this when they try hiring a host for an advice column show. The job ultimately went to Jennifer.
Inverted with NBC's Chuck. Chuck meets a series of job interviewers, all of whom are hilariously unsuitable. It turns out that the CIA is sabotaging his interviewers so that Chuck will return to work with them.
In the premiere episode of Melrose Place, Allison's roommate had skipped town the night before, and needs to find a new one ASAP. Several prospective roommates who are not exactly what she had in mind.
Prospective roommate (A "punker" girl smoking a cigarette): "I'm here about the apartment." Allison: "You know, my only request was for a non-smoking roommate." Prospective roommate: "Well, I'm down to a pack a day."
The second season of The Wire features an investigation into the murder of a dozen women being smuggled into the country on an international container ship. When detectives "Bunk" Moreland and LesterFreamon attempt to interview/interrogate the crew, every single member of the crew claims to not speak English and just goes on and on in their various native languages. After who knows how many hours of this, Detective Freamon, who gets called things like "smooth old Lester" by awestruck young detectives, finally loses his cool and begins screaming "English, motherfucker!" at a random member of the crew. Scene.
In the 1985 "Weird Al" YankovicMockumentaryThe Compleat Al, the auditions for Al's backing band (organized by his sleazy manager) play out this way. One guy never quite figures out the opening riff to "Day Tripper", another gets only one power chord in before he's waved off with "Thank you!", and an overweight punk strums a banjo and performs the original ditty "I Don't Wanna Do My Laundry". The narration reveals that Al managed to put together a backing band despite his manager's best efforts.
In an episode of The Unusuals, Banks and Delahoy have to interview a series of witnesses to a bus robbery, none of whom speak English, all of whom are eccentric.
A segment of WWEWrestleMania 27 featured Snoop Dogg and Theodore Long holding auditions for wrestlers with musical talent to join Snoop on tour. Featured acts include posh brit William Regal rapping, Beth Phoenix and Great Khali doing a song from Grease, and Zack Ryder singing Rebecca Black's "Friday".
In Merrily We Roll Along, there's a few of the auditions for Frank and Charlie's first show, one of which is for a woman who doesn't so much sing as screech and clearly has no idea how bad she is.
"I can go higher!" "That's okay, we'll call you."
An audio sketch in one of the You Don't Know Jack games depicts Black Sabbath, in 1971, trying to find someone to recite the opening line of "Iron Man", only for all of the auditionees to fail miserably. Just as Ozzy Osbourne is ready to give up, a delivery boy with a naturally-distorted voice is heard to say, "I'm from the drycleaners. I've got your ironing... man."
Donkey Kong 64 contained a secret ending, only viewable after collecting every item in the game (or, seven years later, checking YouTube) where the characters auditioned (miserably) for a vague new title represented by a dolphin picture. This implied the game was a Donkey Kong 64 sequel for the Gamecube, which due to the sale of Rare to Microsoft two years later, did not happen.
Homestar Runner does this twice in a Strong Bad Email about who gets to check emails after Strong Bad retires. Also briefly seen in "haircut" when Strong Bad is trying to find someone with hair to cut.
Bowser's Kingdom episode 6 had Jeff looking for a new partner after Hal had quit the Koopa Troop. They included a Rex, a Shy Guy, a Wiggler, and a Metroid. After the montage, Donkey Kong became his partner.
Flaky Pastry starts out this way, with Marelle and Nitrine looking for another roommate to help them pay the rent. All but one of the rejected housemates become recurring side-characters later on, too.
Implied to have happened before Sabrina got her first job in Sabrina Online.
Reverse example in thisLoserz strip, where Ben and Eric ask out various girls — with their usual success rate.
Subnormality gives us the Dating (russian) roulette: Six speed dates in a row, you have to settle on ONE mandatory date without seeing the others after you make your choice or being allowed to pick someone you already rejected. Hope you don't land on the bullet!
In The Order of the Stick prequel On the Origin of PCs, there's one when Roy tries hiring for the Order, but there's a subversion: he's basically looking for anybody, and almost everybody refuses.
Electric Wonderland has one when the staff of the Nettropolis Free Press searches in vain for someone to make comics for their paper.
The KateModern episode "Skittle Yourself" featured Charlie going through one of these. Might be a subversion, since she ended up hiring Lee, who wasn't exactly perfect, but was better than the other idiots who showed up.
The Guild, in season three, sees Codex seeking someone to replace Tinkerballa. None of the applicants measure up to the exacting standard of not being completely creepy or frightening. With the threat of Riley possibly joining the guild, Codex hastily recruits Clara's husband, a stupendously poor choice from the group's perspective.
Played with by Echo Chamber: The Administrator wants Tom to have a female cast member for the show. Tom wants Dana to do it, but because she refuses, Tom holds a casting call. Hilarity Ensues. And then Dana just winds up joining the cast anyway. That's how terrible the interviewees were.
The French web series Flander's Company is almost entirely composed of Terrible Interviewees Episodes in its first season (and a few return to the format in the later ones). The basic premise is that the main character is the human resources manager of a company employing supervillains. The candidates are supposed to have at least a superpower and some potential, but for the most part are utterly inept, and their "powers" are utter jokes (one guy shows up with... the power to resist a music star's singing voice). This often lead Kurtzmann, said main character, to lash at them verbally or physically — after all, he's a former supervillain himself, and NOT an inept one.
CatDog episode "CatDogPig" had one of these, the applicants included a hulking, thuggish bull and a shifty looking chicken with pockets stuffed full of junk who tried to assure Cat "I am most definitelynot a kleptomaniac".
Mr Burns does it a couple of times, like trying to find an actor to play himself in a movie in "A Star is Burns".
Also the montage of Be Sharpes auditions to replace Chief Wiggum in "Homer's Barbershop Quartet".
Dexter's Laboratory does one in "DeeDee and the Man", when Dexter "fires" DeeDee and is looking for a replacement "spastic sister" (at one point interviewing a manic nun: "They asked for a spastic sister, and who did you get? Nun other than me! Get it? 'Nun' other?").
One Looney Tunes cartoon, which has Porky Pig handling a Talent Agency, revolves around this.
One of these in the episode "Junkie Business", when Hank has to hire an accessories associate for the propane dealership. A highlight includes a man who has been on welfare for every Democratic presidency except Clinton and Truman. When an absolutely ideal candidate, who happens to be a rather attractive woman, does apply, uptight Hank passes her over and unwittingly hires the titular junkie instead.
Double subverted in "Bill Gathers Moss", where Bill looks for a roommate with the guys' help. After two terrible applicants, the third is a former Playmate of the Month who is cheerful, pleasant, and seems to take a shine to Bill — but Hank still rejects her over Bill's objections. Later on it turns out she's part of a counterfeit merchandise ring, meaning Hank was right without realizing it.
Futurama has a variation where Fry and Bender go apartment-hunting in "I, Roommate"; it also manages to play with the trope by having the last apartment they view be practically perfect, but they reject it anyway because it's in New Jersey.
In the pilot episode of 6teen, all the friends are trying to get jobs. You see all the mistakes they make and it serves as an Establishing Character Moment for each of them.
Rocko's Modern Life has the episode "Power Trip", when Rocko was interviewing assistants for the comic book shop. Given the surreal nature of the show, this quickly degenerates beyond the usual weirdos and has an alien snapping its claws, a worm crawling across the table, a giant pair of dentures, and a hovering face made of eggs and bacon.
Phineas and Ferb turns one of these montages into a song with the Mix-and-Mingle Machine in "Cheer Up, Candace".
When Finn quits The Dark Hand and seeks henchmen for his own gang. Highlights include a guy who tries to imitate Jaws from James Bond and loses his dentures, a guy who twirls nunchucks and smacks himself in the face, and a Master Swordsman who's very impressive but shrieks and runs away when he sees a mouse. Finn ends up hiring Chow and Ratso.
Sweetie Belle: This one's too young This one's too old He clearly has a terrible cold Sick Stallion: Achoo! Apple Bloom: This guy's too silly He's way too uptight Uptight pony: I say! Sweetie Belle: Well nothing's wrong with this one He seems alright Scootaloo: His girlfriend sure thinks so.
Regular Show has the episode "Temp Check" where Rigby hires a temp. Before he finds Doug he finds two guys that have fireworks go off in their pants and finally a biker who plays a harmonica with his butt (or a kazoo through his nose, if you're watching the show in the UK).
A brief one happens in the Sym-Bionic Titan episode "Showdown at Sherman High" when Kimmy and the other cheerleaders are looking for a new member, before we see Ilana's audition.
Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends has one in "World Wide Wabbit" where Mac and Bloo are videotaping imaginary friends talking about why they should be adopted. Most of the interviews feature Bloo goofing off in the background, mocking the friend.
The Teen Titans Go! episode "You're Fired!" has such a montage after Beast Boy gets thrown out of the team. Cameos includes Vixen (whose power Cyborg find lame, but it's her table manners that owe her a Vaudeville Hook), B'wana Beast (whose name has Cyborg in stitch, and whose power disgusts everyone), Detective Chimp (next!) and Beast Boy in drag trying to sneak back in. The Titans finally settle on Jayna of the Wonder Twins, but aren't impressed by Zan's power of turning into water. But since the Wonder Twin Powers don't allow them to be separated, they still keep Zan... as a receptionist.
Happens in the Family Guy episode "8 Simple Rules for Buying My Teenage Daughter" when the Griffins are hiring a babysitter for Stewie. The interviewees include Peter's Portuguese former coworkers Santos and Pasqual, as well as Tundro and Gloop from The Herculoids.
One episode of American Dragon Jake Long has one for a part in a Shakespeare's play. It's so bad that one of the interviewees was convinced it was the hockey team try-outs. In the end, the interviewees that weren't Jake were so bad that Spud got a part as replacement actor...