Unusual Interview Mistakes and Body Language Mishaps

If you’ve recently had a candidate-interview session that made you want to crawl under your desk, or even call the police, then take heart: CareerBuilder’s latest report on job-interview mishaps and unusual occurrences is here for you.

The survey, undertaken for CareerBuilder by the Harris Poll, queried 1,014 hiring managers and HR professionals from companies of all sizes and industries late last year. Here are some of the juicy nuggets it found:

The Most Unusual Things People Have Done in Interviews

Candidate did not have the skills to do the job and stated “Fake it until you make it” as his personal philosophy. (Give him points for being honest, at least.)

Candidate asked interviewer if she was qualified to be doing her job. (“Enough about me. What about you?”)

Candidate asked for a cocktail. (Perhaps he or she had just finished binge-watching Mad Men?)

Candidate asked to taste the interviewer’s coffee. (“Is it hazelnut? I MUST find out!”)

Candidate wore a Darth Vader outfit to the interview. (In that person’s defense, there are people who think Darth Vader was a very effective project manager.)

Candidate spent a lot of time quoting Dwight D. Eisenhower, which had noting to do with the position he was interviewing for. (Weird. But then again, Eisenhower was a highly capable leader who left behind a veritable treasure trove of management quotes.)

Candidate offered interviewer pumpkins and said they transfer good energy. (Not sure about energy transference, but pumpkins are in fact an extremely healthy food source.)

Candidate pulled out a bag of drugs with his keys. (OK, that’s clearly not a good sign.)

Candidate broke out in song in the middle of the interview. (Wonder if it was any of these workplace-related songs?)

Careerbuilder’s survey also included the top 10 “instant deal breakers” interviewees made, which include

  1. Caught lying about something (71 percent)
  2. Answering a cell phone or texting during interview (67 percent)
  3. Appearing entitled or arrogant during interview (59 percent)
  4. Appearing to have a lack of accountability (52 percent)

Last but not least, the survey also queried survey participants on the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make during an interview. Failure to make eye contact was No. 1 (68 percent), followed by failure to smile (38 percent), playing with something on the table (36 percent) and fidgeting too much (32 percent).

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.