HR Horror Stories

7 Behaviors that can Ruin your Interview

The interview is a breeding ground for the most incredible stories. There, applicants and potential employers meet for the first time in person and exchange knowledge and creative thoughts. It is often exciting, sometimes even funny, and from time to time it can be very strange! To ensure you have the best interview experience, make sure not to engage in the following 7 behaviors.

Not only can arrogance and disinterest sabotage your interview. This is how you shoot yourself in the foot.

Top-Recruiter Gary Chaplin had actually arranged to meet with Mr. Watson, but now a woman was sitting in his office…Mrs. Watson. Her husband was ill, so she would now do the interview with the headhunter in his place. She stated triumphantly: “I already know everything about his career.” In this situation, even a recruiter with Confucius-like patience, such as Chaplin, was irritated. When it comes to strange or bizarre situations during interviews, human resources departments have no shortage of material. Because applicants are not just human capital, but primarily people. People to whom no human behavior is off limits, even during interviews…

In order to get a job, applicants need to become more and more inventive. However, you should always avoid the following strategies when talking to a recruiter or HR personnel:

  • Showing apparent disinterest
  • Acting arrogant
  • Wearing unsuitable clothing

Engaging in these three behaviors are a real “deal breaker” for 73% of managers and HR personnel, according to a survey from the US portal careerbuilder.com. Also, 51% of the interviewers said they could see within the first five minutes of the interview whether or not the candidate fit the job.

The nightmares of every staff member

Seeming disinterested, arrogantly smiling and over/under dressing for an interview – these mistakes can happen to anyone. But the almost unbelievable behavior of some applicants can leave a deep impression on the psyche of HR personnel and managers conducting interviews. No recruiters, headhunters or HR personnel were harmed during the following situations, and these encounters of the third kind are absolutely true.* Read on and shudder!

  1. The Insatiable

    An applicant brought along his own pizza during a job interview, and proceeded to eat it aggressively, without even offering any to the interviewer. After he was done eating, the young man continued the interview with crumbs all over the table and around his mouth. Another situation involved a good-looking young woman who, directly after her interview, invited her potential new boss out for a romantic dinner. Or the Sales Director, who frankly and freely said, “If you cannot surpass my salary from last year, I’ll be leaving soon.”

  2. The Musical

    During an interview, apparently, the candidate could hear his favorite music coming from the office above – and he started singing along. Even more unimaginable, a woman who was obviously bored in the conversation of the interview process began to sing her answers…

  3. The Childish

    One applicant brought his childhood toys with him to the interview. Another, a 43-year-old man, apparently needed more emotional support, because he brought his mother with him.

  4. The Cleanly Fashionista

    One candidate rubbed lotion all over her feet during the interview. Another responded to the popular question of why she should become a member of the team with, “My hair just fits perfectly.” Another young lady, while playing with her elastic necklace, inadvertently pulled out a tooth. She was quickly out of the race.

  5. The Psychic

    A candidate explained in conversation that she is a medium and tried to read from the recruiters palm, despite his objections. But this still isn’t as bad as the applicant who touched the chest of his interviewee to feel his heartbeat. The interviewee was astonished when his interviewer claimed he merely wanted to ‘build a heart-to-heart connection’.

  6. The Unpolished

    Somehow, an applicant obtained a family photo of the interviewer, and must have really liked it, as it was in the applicant’s briefcase during the interview. How about smoking during an interview? No problem, the candidate thought…and lit a cigarette. Another bold move came from the candidate who was insatiably picking his nose. The coronation, however, was the applicant who led his telephone interview in a very unsuitable place – and audibly flushed his toilet for the interviewer to hear.

  7. The Insecure

    When it comes to self-confidence, the masters of creation are not always the ones in charge. At least this applies to the following applicants. The one asked for a brief interruption of the conversation to call his wife and ask whether the initial offered salary was ok. Only then could he continue the conversation. Or the candidate who, when asked why he wanted the job, said, “My wife wants me to get this job.”

Of course one can celebrate a successful application process, but be careful not to overdo it. As recruitment consultant, Dr. Thomas K. Heiden, tells Experteer magazine: “The biggest faux pas that a candidate has made in the application process was at the closing dinner with his future employer. They were celebrating their new working relationship, and the candidate was celebrating a bit too hard – five bottles of beer and an entire bottle of wine to himself too hard.” Cheers!

* Compiled from an online study conducted by the Research Institute Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com.

About the Author

Jörg Peter Urbach is the author, editor and blogger of Sprachleidenschaft. He has been writing for more than 25 years, for print and online. Concepts. Stories. Journal articles. After studying musicology and German language and literature, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As long-time chief editor of the portal wissen.de, he knows how to inspire readers with clever topics.

If the native Kieler is not writing, he is walking through the Alps. Or listening to the opera. With mindfulness.