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FAIL! You Won’t Believe These Outrageous Job Interview Mistakes

Outrageous interview mistakesIf you’ve watched one of those reality TV singing competitions like The Voice or American Idol, you’ll know that the contestants barely have a few minutes to make their mark and impress the judges with their talent if they expect to move on to the next round. Turns out job interviews are similar in that it’s a race against time to impress the hiring managers.

Nearly half of employers (49 percent) say they can tell within the first five minutes whether a candidate will be a good fit for the position, and the vast majority (87 percent) know within the first 15 minutes, according to CareerBuilder’s new national survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and HR professionals. But that doesn’t prevent some job seekers from crashing and burning.

Wow, what were they thinking?

Just like some of the cringeworthy wild cards on American Idol, there have been some “William Hung” moments in the job interview world. Are these stunts gone bad, or are these people for real? Just for fun, I’ve taken the liberty of rating each of these actions in one of three categories: LOL, OMG and WTF. Take a look and tell me if you agree or put your own rating on it.

  1. What better way to express an interest in the company’s dental benefits than popping out your dentures? WTF
  2. Setting fire to the interviewer’s newspaper will certainly impress him. OMG
  3. I don’t care what anyone says, it’s totally normal to act out a Star Trek role during a job interview. LOL
  4. Crashing your car into a building will definitely get you the employer’s attention — but for all the wrong reasons. OMG
  5. Unless you’re applying for a job at Apple, keeping your iPod headphones on during the entire interview seems disrespectful. WTF
  6. If you have second thoughts about your daughter’s paternity, bring it to Maury, not a hiring manager. OMG
  7. Can’t scrounge up a date? Hit up the receptionist at the company you’re interviewing with. LOL
  8. A wannabe Chris Hanson secretly tried to record a job interview. WTF
  9. When your significant other doesn’t feel like perusing personal photo albums with you, why not bring it in to share with a hiring manager? OMG
  10. Asking for a hug from a stranger seems inappropriate even outside of a job interview, even though it’s more harmless than the rest of these. LOL

That’s not even the end of the list. Click here to read the entire press release.

Common sense is not so common

Quit fidgeting. Sit up straight. Smile. Make eye contact. Stop playing with your hair. We’ve all heard this type of “nagging” from our parents at one point or another when we were young. Turns out job seekers could use some of that advice while interviewing, as employers pointed to this lack of body language etiquette as a factor that could potentially harm a candidate’s chances of landing the job.

If you thought that etiquette and common courtesy came naturally to people, newsflash — it doesn’t. Some examples of candidates crossing that line during an interview include: looking bored (55 percent), dressing inappropriately (53 percent), coming off as arrogant (53 percent), bad mouthing previous employers (50 percent), answering a phone call in front of the hiring manager (49 percent), not doing homework on the company or role (39 percent), sharing TMI (20 percent) and asking personal questions (17 percent).

Tell us in the comments below: What are the biggest interview blunders YOU have ever come across? I’ll get us started. Someone once came in 20 minutes late with no heads up or explanation or even mention of why he was late and then proceeded to turn red in the face and sweat profusely throughout the interview. Awkward!

Deanna Hartley

About Deanna Hartley

Deanna Hartley is a senior copywriter and community manager on the creative services team at CareerBuilder, where she writes about issues that are top of mind for employers and recruiters – including talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention. An avid social media user, Deanna is the face behind @CBforEmployers on Twitter as well as CBforEmployers’ Facebook and Instagram pages, so it’s easy to stay connected with her. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Deanna was a senior editor for the Human Capital Media Group, publishers of Talent Management, Chief Learning Officer, Diversity Executive and Workforce Management magazines. Deanna holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She loves caffeine, social media, pop culture and dogs – though not necessarily in that order.

I can't believe I'm the only person who has read this article who objects to anyone writing in a forum that is for "Hiring Professionals" using "WTF".  "WTH" is not nearly so offensive, and would convey the same sense of disbelief, but I think "WTF" is over the line for anyone claiming to be in any way professional.  I guess that depends on the profession, though.

Coryn Delegro
Coryn Delegro

During an interview last year, we had background music playing in the office. The radio dj announced that caller #10 won tickets to a concert that coming weekend. The interviewer heard the announcement, actually apologized, but proceeded to pull out her cell phone to see if she could be caller #10. She said she was so sorry but had been trying all morning and couldn't miss the chance.


Hi Deanna, I once interviewed a candidate that had just moved to town. I asked her what part of town she was living in and how far she was willing to drive to get to work. She told me that location is no problem because she was living out of the back of her U-Haul truck.


I sent a candidate to an interview and she was telling them about how when she came to this country she did it all by the book and legally.  She didn't just "jump the fence" like a lot of people do.  Which might have not been so bad if it wasn't a job with a large very well known company's LEGAL department.


A recruiter I work with set up an engineer for an interview.  The employer picked him up a the airport.  He told them that he had forgotten his wallet.  He then asked them to stop at a convenience store where he proceeded to ask to borrow some money so he could buy cigarettes! 


A young woman I was interviewing wore sunglasses, and gloves throughout the interview. The sunglasses were very distracting so half way through the interview I asked if it was possible to remove her sunglasses reiterating I understood if it was necessary for medical reasons. In a cross undertone she simply replied with a  "No" along with the body language that said to me,  "Idiot!".


@ShelleyJ68  AWKWARD! That's why it's always best to steer clear of topics like that - eh, Shelley? I thought that was common knowledge, but maybe not.


@dougbq  You're kidding, right?! I guess that is right up there with setting fire to the interviewer's newspaper!


@DeidraVander Hi Deidra - thanks for sharing. I can't help but think you were probably looking at your own reflection in her sunglasses, which I'm sure is distracting! Of course if it was for medical reasons, as you mentioned, I wonder in this case if it may have been less awkward if she had just stated it up front and got it out of the way.


I wish that I was kidding.  I wondered how he was able to get on a plane without his wallet.  Guess he carried his ID separately. 


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