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“Hey Honey, What Are We Having for Dinner?” Job Candidates’ Biggest Interview Blunders

Woman thinking about dinner plans during interviewHave you ever had a job candidate call his or her significant other during an interview to casually inquire about that night’s dinner plans? CareerBuilder’s annual study on the most common and outlandish job interview mistakes, conducted among more than 2,600 hiring managers and 3,900 workers across the nation, found a litany of cringe-worthy mistakes made during interviews — dinnterview etiquette (yes, I just made that up and immediately regret it) being just one of them.

In a labor market in which one open position may yield resumes from hundreds of applicants, there are certain mistakes employers won’t—or shouldn’t—brush off. But which are stumbles, and which are total screw ups? You decide, as we take a closer look at candidates’ biggest interview mistakes, straight from the hiring managers who experienced them.

Most Memorable Interview Blunders:

Whether from inexperience, nerves, interference of life events, or something else altogether, interview mistakes or errors in judgment happen — though some mistakes are a bit more strange than others. Hiring managers gave real-life examples of the most peculiar behaviors they witnessed in job interviews this past year:

  • Candidate said he had had to quit a banking position because he was always tempted to steal.
  • Candidate denied that he had a cell phone with him even though it could be heard ringing in the briefcase beside him.
  • Candidate emptied the employer’s candy dish into her pocket.
  • Candidate said he didn’t like getting up early and didn’t like to read.
  • Candidate asked to be paid “under the table.”
  • Candidate reached over and placed a hand on the interviewer’s knee.
  • Candidate commented that he would do whatever it takes to get the job done, legal or not.
  • Candidate hugged the president of the company.
  • Candidate called his wife to see what they were having for dinner.
  • Candidate asked to postpone the start date so she could still get holiday gifts from vendors at her current job.
  • Candidate called in sick to her current employer during the interview, faking an illness.
  • Candidate said he didn’t want the job if he had to work a lot.
  • Candidate wouldn’t answer a question because he thought they would steal his idea and not hire him.

The Kiss of Death: 6 Fatal Interview Errors

Some mistakes aren’t necessarily unusual, but are just as, if not more, detrimental to a candidate’s chances of landing the job. When asked to identify the top detrimental mistakes in job interviews, hiring managers said the following six missteps topped the list:

  1. Appearing disinterested.
  2. Answering a cell phone or texting.
  3. Dressing inappropriately.
  4. Talking negatively about a current or previous employer.
  5. Failure to make eye contact or smile, bad posture, or a weak handshake.
  6. Not providing specific examples.

 Tell us — what’s the worst interview mistake you’ve encountered (or committed yourself)?



Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.

At the beginning of an interview I noticed the applicant had contacts in that looked like a bullsye. If was difficult to maintain eye contact with him. I finally asked why he wears contacts like that, to which he replied "I like to intimidate people". That interview ended very quickly....


 @kathy56 Wow -- haven't heard that one before! Definitely a unique approach... and looks like he got his wish.


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