Employers Share the Strangest Interview Mistakes They’ve Encountered

January 14, 2016 Matt Tarpey

Interviews can be incredibly stressful for job seekers. Often when an interviewee makes a mistake, it’s merely this nervousness showing through. However, there are some job seekers whose behavior is so strange that it’s hard to chalk it up to nerves.

As part of CareerBuilder’s recent interview mistakes survey, employers shared the biggest mistakes or most unusual things job candidates have done during the interview process. Some of the highlights (or lowlights) include:

  • Candidate took a family photo off of interviewer’s desk and put it into her purse.
  • Candidate started screaming that the interview was taking too long.
  • Candidate said her main job was being a psychic/medium and tried to read interviewer’s palm, despite interviewer’s attempts to decline the offer.
  • When asked what his/her ideal job was, candidate said “painter of birdhouses.” (Company was hiring for a data entry clerk.)
  • Candidate sang her responses to questions.
  • Candidate put lotion on his/her feet during the interview.
  • When asked why he wanted the position, candidate replied, “My wife wants me to get a job.”
  • Candidate started feeling interviewer’s chest to find a heartbeat so they could “connect heart to heart.”
  • Candidate had a pet bird in his/her shirt.
  • Candidate took phone interview in the bathroom – and flushed.

Body Language Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job

Less obvious, but just as damaging to a candidate’s prospects are body language mistakes. The most common of these, according to employers, include:

  1. Failing to make eye contact: 67 percent
  2. Failing to smile: 39 percent
  3. Playing with something on the table: 33 percent
  4. Having bad posture: 30 percent
  5. Fidgeting too much in their seats: 30 percent
  6. Crossing their arms over their chests: 29 percent
  7. Playing with their hair or touching their faces: 27 percent
  8. Having a weak handshake: 21 percent
  9. Using too many hand gestures: 11 percent
  10. Having a handshake that was too strong: 7 percent

Common Interview Deal Breakers

Minor body language mistakes don’t always spell doom for a job seeker. However, there are some things most employers simply won’t put up with. The following behaviors were identified as instant deal-breakers:

  1. Candidate is caught lying about something: 69 percent
  2. Candidate answers a cell phone or text during the interview: 68 percent
  3. Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 60 percent
  4. Candidate dresses inappropriately: 50 percent
  5. Candidate swears: 50 percent



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