You spray your flatmate’s perfume, tell yourself in the mirror “u can do it,” and head out to the nerve-wracking job interview hoping it’s gonna be the last one. Not because you want that job that bad, but because you can’t take one more sweaty ordeal.
And while most of us know what we are going to say word-for-word by heart, some job seekers seem like they couldn’t care less. And who is better equipped to tell the horror stories from job interviews gone sour than the employers themselves? From an applicant hitting their car in a parking lot to asking if any of the staff is single, or texting through the whole interview like it's whatever, employers reveal the very worst candidates they had to deal with.
And I mean, if you are brave enough to take the luxury and see where destiny takes you in your next job interview, do whatever—just don’t be, like, an a-hole.
HR director here. Here is a few over the years:
Was told to give an interview for a manager position for some girl right out of college. Could tell it was someone pulling strings, because she had no experience in the field, and her degree was in criminal justice. This was an IT position.
Had a a guy with a killer resume, all the credentials, come in for an interview. Though it was going to go well, he instead was drunk and high. He couldn't even string a full sentence together.
Had a woman go ballistic on me when i asked her about her career goals. I thought i was on an episode of punkd.
Best one was calling a reference a guy had left for me: "Yeah Stans a nice guy, shows up on time, keeps to himself. If you need someone to warm a chair for 8 hours a day, he is your guy. If you want someone to do a little more work, i got a cinderblock here thats a little more motivated."
I'm the only girl in my department. Had a candidate come in, breezed through the technical interview, and then it was time for the peer interview with me to make sure he would fit the team. He shook my hand and then expressed surprised that they let secretaries interview people for an IT position.
Do not, do not do not be disrespectful to anyone. Especially not the non-white non-male interviewers. Or the receptionist or your HR contact.
All this stuff is noted and will affect whether you are hired.
I've interviewed people alongside a male colleague. Some people don't react well to a small brown girl when there's a white or Asian man alongside. They choose to maintain eye contact only with him. When I ask a question, they direct the answer to him. When I'm indicating their answer is wrong, they look at the guy with a 'she's crazy right? Let's both tell her how wrong she is' look. Never mind that the guy is usually a first timer shadowing me.
I've seen male chauvinists really disrupt the vibe of a team when they treat the girls badly and it forces people to pick sides. I prefer not to hire people who might mess up what I've worked hard to build, and who might have issues with my authority.
No one was born nailing a job interview. It normally takes some preparation, both emotional and physical, like having a good night’s sleep (even if sometimes it’s easier said than done), making sure you look good, and thinking through all the things you will be talking about in that nerve-wracking hour which may be a game-changer.
To find out more about the major faux pas that are likely to serve as deal-breakers in a job interview, Bored Panda reached out to Dawn Moss, interview and career coach.
Dawn said that the biggest mistake you can make is not preparing specific examples to share. “I think some candidates think they can 'wing' it on the day or feel confident to be able to have a conversation.“ However, Dawn stresses that “an interview is more than just a conversation” and just “a chat doesn't usually produce good quality evidence and data to demonstrate competence.”
My time to shine! I used to do hiring for a small company in Lexington, Kentucky. Place wasn’t super formal but I would make it a point to tell people that if they came in for the interview it should be treated as such. We also had a lot of people come in from employment agencies.
Anyways call this applicant for an interview which she gladly accepts so I give her a time/date with what we need as a company (resume, list of references and last 28 years of addresses for a abuse background check)
She shows up 15 minutes late in what can be considered theoretically to be a dress...this thing was epic. It was a see through mesh dress with neon pink bra, underwear and 5 inch heels. On top of that she had waist length blonde braids.
Being that there is a barely dressed woman waiting for me in the reception area I ask the owner of the company to sit in for interview...didn’t want anything to be misconstrued. Lady sits down and we do the interview. I explain to her what we did as a company and our mission statement (we provided services for individuals with ID/DD). After i explain this to her she gets this look on her face and said “ I am not working as an ass wiper for no retards”.
At this point the interview is over and she is definitely not who we are going to hire. After she left I moved the chair she sat on to an empty office across the hall
A long time ago, I was a manager for GameStop. GameStop was very particular about the interview process. "Here's a sheet, ask these questions"
I don't work that way. I'll get to this later though.
So I have a whole line of seasonal hires lined up. And I have one guy call me and say he's going to be a little late. That's fine, crap happens, minnesota's weather sucks, I get it.
An hour passes, I have another potential hire come in for their scheduled interview. I take them in the back and the interview goes great. I walk out and there he is.
The only way I can describe this guy is hungover without taking a shower. I could smell the bar on him from across the store. I ask him "Can I help you?"
"Yeah I had an interview today, I've been waiting for 10 minutes." "You had an interview at noon. I've been waiting for 60 minutes."
I can already tell this is going to be a good time.
We head to the back and I sit down with him, getting slightly intoxicated on the smell of what I suspect is well tequila.
Me - "So why gamestop?"
Him - "I dunno, I like video games and stuff."
Me - "Well not a requirement but it definitely helps."
I'm still trying to keep a sunny attitude, because you never know, maybe this guy is a hidden gem of a person, just had a rough night. I never try to pretend I know what's going on with someone. But I've already got quite a few red flags.
Him -"Yeah, I guess. When are you gonna ask the questions on the sheet?"
Me - "I'm sorry?"
Him - "The questions you're supposed to ask me."
Me - "I don't interview that way. I want to get a feel for the type of person you are and questions like, 'Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.' don't really get me the information I need to know about you."
Him - "Well that's stupid. That's not how you should interview people."
So now I'm over the guy, but hell I deserve some fun.
Me - "How should I interview people then?"
Him - "The way GameStop says to do it."
Me - "Well GameStop as a corporate entity doesn't have to work with the people I hire on a daily basis. I like to have people that fit with my team. People who don't call in that they'll be a little late and then show up an hour later. People who don't show up to a business where they work or intend to work smelling like the inside of some cheap tequila bottle."
Him - "It wasn't cheap tequila."
Me - "Well, I've heard all I need to hear. I'll call if we make the decision to hire you."
He then proceeded to mumble some stuff under his breath before leaving the office. I have never had my employees run in to make sure I wasn't dead so fast.
"Jesus, we thought he might have killed you."
"He did. On the inside."
I was good friends with our local HR person at previous job. We're talking about a promising prospect, she asks if I have time to help by asking the technical questions, I agree.
We sit down with a rather clean-cut late 20-something guy. Before we even get started, he says, "Just to get this out of the way: I smoke a lot of pot. Is that going to be an issue?"
HR lady: "Uh...yes. Yes, it is."
Prospect: "Alrighty, then, sorry I wasted your time."
And then he leaves.
The interview coach said that good recruiters will be gathering evidence and it will determine whether a candidate gets through the process. Taking the time to prepare for an interview is a good strategy as “it demonstrates you are genuinely interested in the job.”
There are lots of inappropriate things candidates could say during an interview. For example, “Anything discriminatory will not land a candidate the job” and “being negative about previous companies or managers is uncomfortable listening to.” Dawn suggests it’s always better to focus on positive learning points from your previous job experience.
I had a recent college grad interview for a job. Asked if we had a nap room. Said his doctor required him to take an hour nap a day. If he got hired he will provide the appropriate medical records but requires a nap room. He also asked if when he got hired if he would be one of the bosses of the developers who interviewed him. I asked why and he said he felt off about the developer and said he would let him go. He then asked where his office would be located and whether they would compensate him with stock options or ownership. Finally he ended the interview saying he had an 3pm appointment and it was nice talking to me. I asked him to leave. He was applying for an entry level support analyst position.
I work in a financial institution: I had a person say that they cannot work more that 4 hours a day and only Monday, Wednesday and Friday. She did not want to interfere with her Welfare Benefits. She also asked what we do if there is cash missing at the end of a shift
Not inappropriate per se, but I got one resume that was about 4 pages long and literally listed every life accomplishment that this lady had.
1. "Reading, writing and arethmitic" (sic)
2. "Ability to hear and understand simple instruction"
3. Brown belt - Tae Kwon Do
4. Good cook
I'm not kidding. So I invited her in for an interview, because... I was really curious. She showed up forty minutes late at the wrong building (in a completely different town).
All in all, having worked in human resources for twelve years, Dawn suggests not talking about any of one's protected characteristics (“Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation”).
The career coach added that a good recruiter will not be asking any questions relating to these characteristics, and if they do so, then it’s a red flag for you as a potential employee. It’s better to rethink whether the company is one you’d like to work for.
Female coworker of mine who is an expert level firmware engineer interviewed a guy just this week for an entry level firmware position, and at the end of the interview (which was by phone, by the way) he asked, "Just between you and me, do you think we could get coffee or dinner sometime?"
Solid no, my dude. That's how you completely disqualify yourself from getting hired.
My company pays all the bills for a candidate to come interview, tickets, hotel, car, meals, etc.
We had a candidate who asked “what is the absolute maximum I can charge for a meal?” and could he "charge us for a friends meal?” He was also rude to our administrative assistant. Our AA was a lady that literally oozed warmth and caring. She’s the kind of lady that the devil himself could meet and say, “You know what, that’s really a nice lady! I like her!"
We declined to hire him because we didn’t want anybody looking to game the system looking for to pay for friends, and certainly we didn’t want people who could not get along with our AA.
A young lad comes in for a production role. Goes through the niceties and rigmarole. Does OK. As we’re wrapping up, I ask if he has any questions and he says, ‘Can I have the the blonde babe’s number?’ about a team member.
At the end of the day, we are all humans and it’s natural to make mistakes. Remember that a future opportunity in the same company may pop up anytime, so it’s better to part on good terms and have left a good impression on the interviewer. Who knows, maybe you’ll be a part of their team one day.
This one guy had Googled me and was asking me all kinds of stuff related to my background and hobbies etc. It was really creepy.
We didn't hire him.
Guy said he spoke French on his resume... Said he "only spoke it when he's drunk," in the interview.
He assumed he had the job during the interview, so he was very relaxed. Leaned back in the chair, showed up late, and texted the whole time.
"So, what do I have to do for you to give me the job?"
Then they winked.
Then I laughed and he looked at me like I was insulting him laughing.
Too much cologne/perfume. I have ended numerous interviews because of this.
I have had hiring managers end interviews early because they could not stand the stench. One time, the hiring manager had an asthma attack because of this. Guess what? The candidate did not get the job.
Applicant said, 'So are any of the guys here single?' during the interview.
Chewing gum - especially bubble gum - during the job interview.
I once had an applicant sit there chewing bubble gum. At first I thought it might be a "nervous habit," but when he blew a bubble while I was referring to his resume, that did it.
Full club attire (clothes and makeup) . I work in an office building for a healthcare company. Candidate had a super short, sparkly silver dress and 6 inch heels. I don't know how she sat down without the dress ripping.
I'm a manager at a popular 24-hour restaurant chain in the South. I had a younger guy come in for an interview, who had some decent experience and was very polite over the phone, but when he showed up I immediately knew we wouldn't be hiring him. He came in to the restaurant with no shoes or shirt on.
"Will I be able to leave earlier when the time changes to get home before dark. My mom doesnt want me in the city then"
This was asked by a guy my old office was interviewing for a job. He was in his mid 20s.
Had these 2 happen from people asking about jobs.
Bragging how many times you been fired. The same place has fired you 41 times, not sure which of you looks worse.
Bragging about how much you stole from previous employer
Applicant said, 'Does this place have a policy on drugs, because I have fun at the weekends?
I once interviewed a guy who was unbelievably high. A few minutes in, he stops and stare out the window and says "Hey is that my car? I think someone is stealing my car. Oh wait, no, there's a boat on that one. I don't have a boat." Job offers are contingent on passing a drug test.
I once sat in on an interviewer's debrief for a large organisation where you need professional skills. They were open to recruiting internally for a new position at a higher level, so a few people already in the organisation at a slightly lower level applied and were interviewed that day.
One candidate performed so poorly in the interview and demonstrated such a severe lack of skill, not only did she not get the new position, they decided to have a private meeting about whether or not to fire her from the job she already had.
That was in my view, a really terrible interview.
Once had a guy come to interview at the software company I worked at wearing a "Female Body Inspector" shirt... that ended quickly.
Kid shows up in an interview for a sales job in a Metallica raglan with a dagger coming out of a toilet. His shirt says, 'Metal up your ass!'
It was a handwritten resume that was just a list of the 10 places this gentleman had worked at over the last two years. Next to each one he wrote ‘fired’ or ‘quit.’