Fire, Valium, Dentures: Job Interviews Gone Wild «
In case you need to be told, it’s not a good idea to set fire to a newspaper during a job interview. Nor should you act out a “Star Trek” role, crash your car into the office building, or arrive in a jogging suit because you plan to go running later.
And yet, real, live people have done all of those things. In fact, these are just a few of the horror stories shared by hiring managers and human resources professionals in a national survey of interview blunders from the website CareerBuilder.com.
More stories of job-seekers gone wild: the one who popped out his dentures to illustrate a conversation about dental benefits; the one who asked for a hug; the one who called himself his own personal hero; and the one who admitted she “took too much Valium” before she arrived. (See the full list below.)
Of course, one might argue that leaving a lasting impression—however you manage to do so—could ultimately help a candidate stand out in a competitive field.
But that’s not quite right, according to Michael Erwin, a senior career adviser at CareerBuilder. “People need to use more common sense here,” he said. “Trying to stand out—or trying to be witty or funny—works to your disadvantage. You’re remembered for the wrong reasons.”
Once they stopped laughing, the 2,201 recruiters interviewed for the survey (which excluded government workers) recounted some more common gaffes they see in face-to-face meetings. At the top of list is “appearing disinterested,” which 55 percent of respondents said is the worst thing a person can do. Erwin believes these candidates, more than simply being bored, are likely angling for a position in an industry they don’t belong in or haven’t researched thoroughly enough.
Other frequent demerits include failure to make eye contact, bad posture, and appearing arrogant. If you’re worried about your handshake, don’t sweat it too much—only 5 percent said a weak handshake was the worst mistake an applicant made.
Finally, if all else fails, try to pull yourself together for at least the first 15 minutes. A full 87 percent of respondents said they can that tell within that period whether the applicant is a good fit for the job.
The Most Memorable Interview Mistakes
Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn¹t think her interview was indicative of her personality
Applicant acted out a “Star Trek” role
Applicant acted like he was answering a phone call for an interview with a competitor
Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
Applicant asked for a hug
Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview
Applicant brought personal photo albums
Applicant called himself his own personal hero
Applicant checked FacebookFB -1.56% during the interview
Applicant crashed her car into the building
Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits
Applicant kept his iPod headphones on during the interview
Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “impress me”
Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity
Applicant wanted to know the number of the receptionist because he really liked her
Do you have a story of an interview gone wrong? Are you the one who took too much Valium? Share your story in the comments.