HR professionals and hiring managers know that interviews can be stressful for even the most competent and composed applicants. After all, they’ve been on the other side of the desk before. Yet, there are certain scenarios that defy reasonable explanation and leave them scratching their heads in disbelief.
To prove our point, we’ve compiled a “Top 10” list of job interviews that went sour … and why:
1) “I had a candidate open his briefcase, pull out a package of cheese crackers and a juice box, and munch away on his midday snack while I was asking him questions. He said he’d had no time to eat because he was interviewing all day!”
2) “How about the guy who forgot dark socks to wear with his suit so he colored in his ankles with a black, felt-tip marker?”
3) “I’ve had numerous interviews where the person’s cell phone goes off and rather than apologize and quickly turn off the phone, the person checks the number. So rude.”
4) “When I asked this particular candidate (a 20-something with about five years of work experience) why she was looking to change jobs, she answered, ‘Well, I’ve been sitting around twiddling my thumbs for the last few months.’”
5) “My most unique experience was the candidate who told me he was abducted by an alien who told him to apply for the job – and to report what he learned back to his alien leaders.”
6) “I wished I had never offered this particular woman a cup of coffee because when she set the cup down on my desk, she immediately knocked it over and spilled the piping hot liquid all over my papers and files.”
7) “I’ve seen some interesting clothing choices through the years, but the best ever was the man who showed up in a powder-blue leisure suit, straw hat and flip-flops. And no, he wasn’t applying for a creative position or auditioning for a part in a play!”
8) “Granted, this particular candidate told me he wasn’t feeling well before the interview, but, about 15 minutes into it, he got this strange look on his face, jumped up out of his chair, and promptly threw up all over my office floor.”
9) “After the initial interview with an applicant, I explained the final step in the hiring process would be drug testing. She then responded, ‘Oh, what type of drugs do you want me to test?’”
10) “Before the interview even started, I had a candidate ask me to see where he’d be seated when he got the job. He said he needed to check out the space to make sure he’d have enough privacy!”
Uphold your role in the interview process
On the flip side, you don’t want to be the reason the job interview was a flop. When you’re responsible for interviewing applicants, take the time to define the job and its requirements, schedule interviews only after you’ve reviewed the resume and/or application (and can give the candidate your full attention), and steer clear of illegal interview questions concerning an applicant’s age, race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, pregnancy and any other protected classification.
And if a candidate tells you he’s fighting a bad case of the stomach flu, you may want to reschedule the interview!