When I look back at pictures of myself from years ago — specifically the 1980s — I cringe. The jeans, the ill-fitting shirts, the hair gel. At the time I thought I looked cool and no one told me otherwise. Alas, the pictures do not lie. I have the same feelings about my earliest job interviews, where I thought I was smooth and polished. I was actually a fumbling mess. I remember telling an interviewer that, no, I didn’t know anything about the company.
Looking at a recent CareerBuilder survey, I suppose many other job seekers share the same face-in-the-palm level of embarrassment about some of their missteps. For the survey, employers were asked to name some of the most notable interview mistakes they’ve witnessed, and they gave some whoppers. As outrageous as some of these missteps are, I’m sure we’ve all had interviews we wish we could take back. The professional equivalent of acid-washed jeans, if you will.
Here are some of the most entertaining responses:
- Candidate wore a business suit with flip-flops.
- Candidate asked if the interviewer wanted to meet for a drink after.
- Candidate had applied for an accounting job, yet said he was “bad at managing money.”
- Candidate recited poetry.
- Candidate applying for a customer service job said, “I don’t really like working with people.”
- Candidate used Dungeons and Dragons as an example of teamwork.
- Candidate filed fingernails.
Even if you haven’t exhibited interview behavior on this level, you might have still left an unfavorable impression behind. According to employers, these are the most common mistakes candidates make during interviews:
- Dressing inappropriately
- Appearing disinterested
- Speaking negatively about a current or previous employer
- Appearing arrogant
- Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview
- Not providing specific answers
- Not asking good questions
In the full release, CareerBuilder Vice President of Human Resources Rosemary Haefner offers several tips on how to avoid being the candidate who is singled out for exhibiting strange behavior. Perhaps the most important piece of advice she gives is to practice. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to ramble or say something you’ll eventually regret. Read the rest of the release for more tips and examples of interview faux pas.
So how about it, readers: Who else can admit to some embarrassing interview behavior? Surely I’m not the only one.