Burger King has apologised for interviewing a Dunedin job-seeker in front of other applicants in the middle of its busy restaurant.

An employment lawyer has compared the aborted group interview - cut short after a shocked bystander intervened - to a cattle market.

An applicant who walked out said people deserved to be interviewed in private.

The fast-food chain said it was sorry for what happened, which was not its approved practise.


Speaking on condition of anonymity, an applicant said he received an email earlier this month saying he had landed an interview at noon at Burger King in Andersons Bay Rd, South Dunedin.

It mentioned nothing about a group interview.

He arrived to find 15 applicants milling about.

The manager eventually arrived a quarter of an hour late, then sat the applicants down at a table in the middle of the restaurant.

''And she starts interviewing us, one by one, going around the table.

''She interviews the first guy, asks him all the questions, and then sends him away and interviews the next guy,'' he said.

The interview took under two minutes and included questions on why the applicant wanted to work there and whether they were drug-free, the man said.

Before the interviews began, a woman in the store, who was not a customer, raised concerns about the manager's lateness.


The same woman later intervened during the group interview to raise further concerns.

The manager gave the bystander a ''pretty evil look'', then took the next interview subject to another table, the man said.

At this point the man walked out.

''I don't think anyone was expecting to be there for a group interview.''

Dunedin family and employment lawyer Jenny Beck said she had never encountered anything like it.

''That's a very, very unusual thing to do. It's not a cattle market.''

While she did not believe it was illegal, unless the manager disclosed private information about an applicant in front of the others, she said it was poor form.

''You're turning it into a competition, a gossip session, I don't know what, but I'm most amazed.''

Burger King New Zealand head of marketing Jake Shand said only one person was interviewed before a member of the public intervened and the interviews continued on a one-on-one basis.

Asked if group interviews were standard or approved practise, Shand said they were not.

''No, this was an unusual situation and a one-off event for which we are sorry about.

''BK will reinforce its hiring guidelines.''