From cocktail requests to naps: The 10 worst job-interview performances


With half of employers making their minds up about candidates within the first five minutes of the interview, both parties know how important it is to make a good first impression.
Nevertheless, there are countless mistakes job candidates make in their interviews, both common and downright strange.
A recent survey from CareerBuilder asked HR pros about their biggest interview deal-breakers, and also some completely off-the-wall ways candidates have ruined their chances at the job.

Common errors

It’s no surprise that the worst mistake a candidate can make in an interview is getting caught in a lie — 71% of HR pros said this ruins the candidate’s chances immediately.
Some more instant turn-offs were:

  • answering a call or text (67%)
  • acting entitled or arrogant (59%), and
  • swearing (51%).

An interviewee’s body language can make a bad impression as well. Hiring managers were less likely to give a candidate the job if they:

  • didn’t make eye contact (68%)
  • were fiddling with something (36%), or
  • had a weak handshake (22%).

What were they thinking?

This survey also uncovered some pretty unique ways job seekers ruined their interviews. Here are 10 of the craziest things HR pros have seen:

  1. One candidate was missing essential skills needed for the job. When asked about this, he replied that “Fake it until you make it” was his personal philosophy.
  2. A woman asked the interviewer if she was qualified to be conducting it.
  3. When asked if he wanted a refreshment, one candidate requested a cocktail.
  4. Clearly needing a caffeine fix, one woman asked if she could have a sip of her interviewer’s coffee.
  5. A woman brought some pumpkins into her interview and offered them to the hiring manager, saying they transfer good energy.
  6. One candidate was a little too relaxed, and came in wearing slippers.
  7. We’ve all heard of a power suit, but one candidate took that a step further and came dressed in a full Darth Vader costume.
  8. A candidate was feeling a little sleepy, and five minutes into the interview rested his head on the table for a nap.
  9. When a candidate reached into his pocket to pull out his keys, a bag of drugs fell out instead.
  10. One candidate broke out in song in the middle of her interview.


Rachel Mucha
Rachel writes about Human Resource management and has been a member of the HRMorning staff since 2017. She is a graduate of Ithaca College. Email: