Doughnuts, dogs and knock-knock jokes

Interview horror stories show some candidates still have a lot to learn
||Last Updated: 04/10/2003

Nearly every HR professional has one horror story or another when it comes to interviewing candidates. While most job seekers know what to do in an interview, a new survey shows many could use a refresher in interview basics.

OfficeTeam recently surveyed 150 executives to find out what rare tidbits they’ve encountered during job interviews, and the list is amusing. Here’s a sampling.

Bringing a loved one along

While it's helpful to have the support of loved ones during a job hunt, many executives surveyed gave examples of applicants who went to extremes:

•"After answering the first few questions, the candidate picked up his cell phone and called his parents to let them know the interview was going well."

•"At the end of the interview, the candidate expressed her interest in getting the position, but only if her boyfriend liked the company and the hiring manager. She then said, 'He's waiting outside. Can I bring him in to say hello?'"

•"The person got up to leave just a few minutes after the interview had begun, saying he left his dog in the car and needed to check on him."

Preparing for the interview

Preparation is essential to making the best impression during the interview, and that includes getting organized. These next job seekers definitely weren't ready for their big meeting:

•"The candidate entered the lobby and identified herself to the receptionist. She then pulled two pairs of shoes from her bag and said, 'Before the interviewer comes out, tell me which pair you think I should wear with this suit.'"

•"When asked why he wanted to work for the company, the applicant responded, 'That's a good question. I really haven't given it much thought.'"

•"When asked how the candidate would improve sales if hired for the position, he replied, 'I'll have to think about that and get back to you.' He then stood up, walked out and never came back."

•"When told she would meet with another interviewer, the candidate said, 'Wait just a minute.' She then took out a large bag from her briefcase and proceeded to reapply her makeup and hairspray, all in the first interviewer's office."

Keep comments positive

Candidates don't always keep their comments positive, as the next examples illustrate. The way in which the candidate treats the interviewer can speak volumes about that person's interpersonal skills.

•"When asked by the hiring manager why she was leaving her current job, the applicant said, 'My manager is a jerk. All managers are jerks.'"

•"When asked what the candidate was currently earning, she replied, 'I really don't see how that is any of your business.'"

•"The candidate disparaged his former boss during the interview, not realizing the boss and the interviewer had the same last name, and were related."

•"When asked what he liked least in his current job, the applicant replied, 'staff management.' He was interviewing for a management position."


Finally, some interview blunders that defied classification:

•"After being complimented on his choice of college and the grade point average he achieved, the candidate replied, 'I'm glad that got your attention. I didn't really go there.'"

•"The candidate asked for an early morning interview. He showed up with a box of doughnuts and ate them during the meeting, saying this was the only time he'd have to eat breakfast before going to work."

•"When asked by the hiring manager if he had any questions for him, the candidate replied by telling a knock-knock joke."

•"The company sent an employee to meet a prospective candidate at the airport. The applicant got off the plane, said it was far too cold to live and work in this city, and said he was taking a flight home. He never met the hiring manager."

•"When asked by the manager about his goals, the job seeker said, 'To work in this position for the least amount of time possible until I can get your job.'"

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