The most embarrassing job interview mistakes
I’m pretty sure I can safely say we’ve all made at least one mistake in a job interview at some point in our lives. I’ve miserably failed to prepare and totally drawn a blank on more than one occasion, not to mention dressed rather inappropriately in my clueless younger days, in too short skirts or too casual jeans. Hopefully, as we get older and gain experience, we make fewer of these mistakes.
Robert Half staffing company OfficeTeam has released the responses of a survey in which hiring managers were asked to recount the most embarrassing job interview mistakes they have heard of or witnessed candidates making. The list is a mixture of innocent oopsies and egregious etiquette errors.
- •”The candidate called the interviewer by the wrong name.”
•”One job seeker had lettuce in his teeth when he arrived.”
•”An interviewee was so nervous she almost fainted.”
•”The applicant did a song and dance routine in hopes of getting the job.”
•”Someone brought his pet dog.”
•”When a woman was asked to tell the interviewer a little about herself, she didn’t have anything to say.”
I’m not sure I would fault someone overly for calling me by the wrong name. That can probably be put down to nerves. And I, personally, might enjoy a song and dance routine, and a dog – I’d even enjoy a song and dance routine by a dog. I guess the message there is more “know your audience” than “avoid musical theatre and canines altogether.”
Here are some more of the mistakes:
- •”An applicant showed up in sweatpants.”
•”The person was wearing mismatched shoes.”
•”One candidate didn’t realize his zipper was down.”
•”Someone started swearing during the interview.”
•”A candidate claimed he was late because he got lost, but the receptionist said she saw him hanging out at the coffee shop.”
•”One job applicant was caught lying on her resume during the meeting.”
•”One applicant said he never lets people see him sweat — but he was sweating profusely.”
•”A candidate fell asleep.”
•”The person was checking his cell phone and chewing gum during the interview.”
•”A guy didn’t know what job he was applying for.”
OfficeTeam also had a small list of errors made by the interviewers:
- •”Someone spilled a pot of hot coffee on the candidate.”
•”An interviewer walked into the closet instead of the meeting room.”
•”A hiring manager was reading the wrong person’s resume.”
I like that last one, and imagine it going a bit like this:
“So, it says here you like horses and outdoor activities.”
“No, I don’t…”
“Well, this is awkward….” (Just kidding. Don’t list your hobbies on your resume unless they’re relevant to the position.)
We at Workopolis have our own list of sins hiring managers have made that have blown their chances of hiring candidates as well. Those include the interviewer falling asleep; the manager lying about the job the candidate was applying for; and an interviewer “rotating a pencil in his ear.” Read more of those here.
OfficeTeam also offers a few tips for avoiding embarrassing interview mistakes. Here is their advice:
- “1. Study up. Research the company and ask relevant questions to demonstrate your knowledge of and interest in the job.
2. Do a dry run. Boost your confidence by practicing responses to common and tough questions. Set up a mock interview with friends.
3. Dress to impress. When in doubt, wear a suit. Pay attention to details and conduct a final head-to-toe check before leaving the house.
4. Map it out. Verify directions to the employer’s office in advance. Build in extra time so you can calm your nerves before the meeting.
5. Be honest. If you lie or stretch the truth, it’ll catch up with you.
6. Watch your delivery. Be mindful of your body language and remain engaged throughout the conversation. Take your time to give thorough, yet succinct, responses.
7. Be tactful. Speak diplomatically about former employers. Criticizing past managers or colleagues will only make you look bad.