‘Oh, that’s just my pet bird’: The most outrageous things candidates did in interviews

(Article by hrmorning.com)

Every HR professional could write a book recounting candidate interviews that have gone horribly — and hilariously — wrong. But can you top these forehead-slappers from CareerBuilder?  

A nationwide survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 2,500 hiring and human resource managers (more than 2,300 in the private sector) asked participants to share the strangest things job candidates have done during the interview process.

And here they are:

  • Candidate took a family photo off of interviewer’s desk and put it into her purse.
  • Candidate started screaming that the interview was taking too long.
  • Candidate said her main job was being a psychic/medium and tried to read interviewer’s palm, despite interviewer’s attempts to decline the offer.
  • When asked what her ideal job was, candidate said “painter of birdhouses.” (Company was hiring for a data entry clerk.)
  • Candidate sang her responses to questions.
  • Candidate put lotion on her feet during the interview.
  • When asked why he wanted the position, candidate replied, “My wife wants me to get a job.”
  • Candidate started feeling interviewer’s chest to find a heartbeat so they could “connect heart to heart.”
  • Candidate had a pet bird in her shirt.
  • Candidate took phone interview in the bathroom – and flushed.

Beat those, We dare you.

Quick decisionmaking

The survey also determined that it doesn’t take long for hiring managers to know whether or not they’re talking to a viable candidate — 50% of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good fit for a position. That’s on par with 49% last year.

The common mistakes employees make to submarine their interview? Here are five instant deal breakers, according to employers:

  • Candidate is caught lying about something: 69%
  • Candidate answers a cell phone or text during the interview: 68%
  • Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 60%
  • Candidate dresses inappropriately: 50%, and
  • Candidate swears: 50%.

Bad body language is another interview killer, survey participants said. The worst mistakes:

  • Failing to make eye contact: 67%
  • Failing to smile: 39%
  • Playing with something on the table: 33%
  • Having bad posture: 30%
  • Fidgeting too much in their seats: 30%
  • Crossing their arms over their chests: 29%
  • Playing with their hair or touching their faces: 27%
  • Having a weak handshake: 21%
  • Using too many hand gestures: 11%, and
  • Having a handshake that was too strong: 7%.

The good folks at CareerBuilder suggest that candidates figure out sensible-sounding answers to the questions they’re virtually certain to hear during their interview (frankly, if they haven’t thought this through beforehand, we’re at a loss to know why they’re interviewing at all).

But for the record, here are the most-often asked questions:

  • Tell me about yourself: 55%
  • Why do you want this job?: 50%
  • Why did you leave your last job?: 50%
  • What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?: 49%, and
  • Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it: 48%.