From falling sleep prior and during the interview, to coming up with ridiculous excuses for being late or not showing up at all, employers share the worst way a candidate messed up their job interview.
(Content has been edited for clarity.)
A String Of Excuses
“A colleague of mine called this guy in for an interview. He didn’t show and about two hours after he was due in, he called and said he’d been hit by a car. My colleague decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and they arranged another day. The day arrived and he didn’t turn up again. We got a call from him a while later saying he’d broken his tooth on an almond and couldn’t come as he’d had to rush to a dentist. My incredibly trusting colleague decided to try one more time another day. The guy turned up hammered and out of his mind.”
Mummy Dearest To The Rescue!
“I conducted an interview with a teenage boy, which was his first interview for his first job ever. He was the legal minimum age to start working and was clearly so nervous to the point of being petrified. We always look past that especially for kids fresh to the workforce. Anywho, he was going okay for someone so nervous, until he started looking a bit green.
He asked if he could excuse himself for a moment to go to the toilet which we let him. My manager and I just gave each other a confused look when he left, but again it was the poor guy’s first interview for his first job. A few minutes later, he came back with his mother. He looked a lot better. He just smiled and sat down again without saying a word. His mum spoke up ‘Oh, I’m sorry about [Boy], he gets quite ill when he’s nervous. I hope that doesn’t put you off!’ By this point, things were getting odd but we insisted it was fine and that we understood. We thought that was all mum had to say, but nope, she sat right down and said, ‘Oh good, I hope then you don’t mind if I take over the interview, like I said he’s quite sick and I think it’s best if I answer for him.’
That was the deal breaker. We gave mum and the kid one last chance and told them it was quite alright and he was doing fine. Mum insisted she stayed. The kid just sat there all smug and happy, and mummy dearest answered every single question. We would ask the question directly to the boy, and his mum would lean in and answer for him. Needless to say, he did not get the job.”
Clearly This Is NOT The Right Job For Her
“A younger girl, around 18 years old, came in for an interview at a dog boarding and daycare center. I was desperate to hire and wasn’t getting many applications. She was an artist and seemed relatively normal, so despite the lack of any real work experience or volunteering, I invited her for a brief working interview.
First issue: she stood like a scared rabbit. Genuinely terrified of everything and trying to take up the least amount of space possible. I could overlook this since I hire a lot of first-time job kids who are shy and interviewing for the first time, but she spoke barely above a whisper. So I brought her into my office to interview. I’m a laid back interviewer, just a few questions, joke a little to try to put her at ease. She was still just TERRIFIED.
Second issue: when I asked her greatest strengths and weaknesses she stared at me blankly before saying in a nervous tone, ‘Like… punching and kicking.’ I stared in disbelief for a brief few seconds before clarifying that I meant personality wise. She STILL didn’t get it and said, ‘Uh. I can lift boxes?’
I dragged my way through the rest of the interview before giving her a tour of the rest of the kennel and connecting animal hospital. She was visibly recoiling from all the dogs I showed her, which of course was almost an automatic failure in this setting. In possibly the worst of coincidences, after going to the hospital side they were doing a necropsy on a dog that had died young under mysterious circumstances earlier that morning. I didn’t want to bring any attention to it but she pointed it out and asked, ‘Oh, are they doing surgery on that doggie?’
Mind you this dog’s guts were half strewn out and techs were going through it searching for whatever had taken its life. Not hooked up to anything, the whole room smelled like death. I politely informed her the dog was being studied to figure out what killed it. She froze and asked in a quivering voice: ‘The doggie’s dead?’
She could not recover after that. She was horrified the rest of the tour. I told her we went with someone with more experience in the follow-up and never heard from the poor kid again.”
Don’t Lie On Your Resume
“I have had a few interviews with people that put down they have experience with doing something, and then when I asked them about it, they didn’t know what I was talking about.
I am not talking about anything tough either. The one that sticks out to me the most is someone applied for a job with us in IT. They put down they have experience setting up a wired and wireless network. I asked ‘I see you put down on your resume that you have networking experience, what kind of experience do you have?’ The guy said, ‘Honestly, I don’t have any networking experience.’ My co-workers asked a few more questions. At the end, he asked what he could have done to leave a better impression. I told him, ‘Honestly, don’t write something on your resume if you don’t know anything about it.'”
Is There A Hidden Candid Camera Somewhere?
“I was hiring for a senior project manager – quite a full-on role that may have required some extra work at times (for which I was always happy to compensate with time off in lieu).
A well-qualified girl came in for an interview. She hadn’t been working for several months. No big deal but worth exploring.
Her: ‘I had some problems with my last manager.’ (Red flags start waving)
Me: ‘What kind of problem?’ (I’ve had problems with managers too – both those that I have worked for and those that work for me. It’s not entirely uncommon.)