Human Resources News & Insights

It never ends: Another astonishing list of the ways job seekers submarine interviews

As nobody knows better than an HR pro, there are about a zillion ways to screw up a job interview. And it appears CareerBuilder knows them all.  

Thus, here’s the year’s first rundown of memorable job interview mistakes candidates have made, courtesy of employer reports from across the country.

Strange brew

When asked to share the most unusual things job candidates have done during the interview process, employers and hiring managers recalled the following:

  • Candidate asked to step away to call his wife to ask her if the starting salary was enough before he agreed to continue with the interview.
  • Candidate asked where the nearest bar was located.
  • Candidate brought his childhood toys to the interview.
  • Candidate ate a pizza he brought with him (and didn’t offer to share).
  • Candidate asked interviewer why her aura didn’t like the candidate.
  • Candidate invited interviewer to dinner afterwards.
  • Candidate stated that if the interviewer wanted to get to heaven, she would hire him.
  • Candidate ate crumbs off the table.
  • Candidate said her hair was perfect when asked why she should become part of the team.
  • Candidate sang to a song on the radio playing overhead.
  • Candidate bragged about the fact that they were in the local newspaper for allegedly stealing a treadmill from an older woman’s house.
  • Candidate put on and took off her sunglasses repeatedly.

Body language: Lost in translation

Body language speaks volumes in an interview setting. Asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make during an interview, hiring managers named the following:

  • Failing to make eye contact: 67%
  • Failing to smile: 39%
  • Playing with something on the table: 34%
  • Fidgeting too much in their seats: 32%
  • Crossing their arms over their chests: 32%
  • Having bad posture: 31%
  • Playing with their hair or touching their faces: 28%
  • Having a weak handshake: 22%
  • Using too many hand gestures: 13%, and
  • Having a handshake that was too strong: 9%.

Poison pills

The absolute worst things candidates can do when interviewing for a job? Here are five instant deal breakers, according to employers:

  • Candidate is caught lying about something: 66%
  • Candidate answers a cellphone or text during the interview: 64%
  • Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 59%
  • Candidate dresses inappropriately: 49%, and
  • Candidate appears to have a lack of accountability: 48%.

According to the nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 2,600 hiring and human resource managers, it doesn’t take long for a hiring manager to make a decision. Around half of employers (51%) know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position — on par with last year (50%).

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