Employers tell Moneyish the craziest things candidates have done on job interviews.
This job interview took a seriously wrong turn.
Financial consultant Jim Angleton, the president of the AEGIS Finserve Corp, told Moneyish his human resources manager had to call the police after a candidate for a call center position asked if he was getting a background check, since, “I am wanted in three states for hijacking cars, and I think I may have ran someone over on a highway recently.”
“He was arrested. We have one hell of a security detail in our organization, so five guys went in the room to hang out with him while the police were coming,” said Angleton, who rattled off a series of other hapless wannabe hires. They’ve tried submitting resumes written in red ink on Denny’s napkins, lied outright about where they went to college – or one infamous woman requested “Freaky Fridays,” A.K.A. weekly in-office hookups like she supposedly had at her last gig. The HR rep showed her the door.
“It’s Miami. This happens,” Angleton allowed. “But I’ve also noticed that these interviews are getting worse. I’m seeing book smarts, but not street smarts on how to behave.”
He’s not the only employer increasingly subjected to eyebrow-raising interviews. Larry Boyer, president of Success Rockets LLC career management, told Moneyish about a memorable candidate at a previous office who bragged about helping a member of his college football team fake a drug test. (And one of his interviewers had actually gone to the rival college.)
“We were a Big 4 accounting firm, and ethics are a big part of the business, so admitting to a criminal act was a huge problem,” said Boyer. “But then boasting about it also shows a lack of discretion. What else would you be saying that would be inappropriate to clients?”
Remember, first impressions are important. Half of employers (49%) decide whether you’re a good or bad fit for a position within the first five minutes of an interview, and only 8% make up their mind in half an hour or longer, according to a CareerBuilder survey released on Thursday.
The report also asked more than 1,000 human resources and hiring managers about the the most unusual mistakes people have made in their job interviews, and found some pretty boneheaded blunders, including:
- One candidate asked for a cocktail, and another actually asked to taste the interviewer’s coffee.
- There’s dressing for success … and then there’s the candidate who came to the interview wearing bedroom slippers. Another wore a Darth Vader outfit.
- One candidate quoted Dwight D. Eisenhower at length, which had nothing to do with the position he was interviewing for.
- Another candidate pulled out a bag of drugs with his keys.
Turns out, getting high has kept many candidates from getting hired. When Mike Moyer was the marketing VP for HyperFeed Technologies, Inc., a company that provided real-time financial data feeds to traders, his perfect PR director candidate went up in smoke.
“During the interview he went off on a tangent about his ‘creative process,’ and he alluded to using drugs … and I was welcome to join him at his friend’s apartment to smoke,” Moyer recalled, noting he was passed over. “Later, when my team and I caught up to discuss him, I learned that he had made the offer to others, too!”
Angleton also told Moneyish about one young woman whose bag of pot fell out of her purse during the interview when she was reaching for her license (she said, “You did NOT see that, OK?”) and another who asked, “Can I smoke e-cigs in the office? I do not have a medical marijuana card, but don’t think e-cigs with the marijuana in it is illegal. Do you drug test?”
“Whether or not marijuana is legal in some states, the bottom line is, it’s not legal here yet,” the Miami-based Angleton explained. “And we’re government contractors, and one of our clients is the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration]. So, no.”
But as workplaces grow increasingly casual, the lines between what is and isn’t acceptable at the office has blurred in many fields, like tech. Zach Hendrix, the co-founder of GreenPal on-demand lawn care service, was hiring a coder, so he didn’t bat an eyelash when one candidate appeared to be wearing a vintage Gatorade t-shirt to the interview.
“But after I looked at the shirt a second time, it was not ‘Gatorade’ – it said ‘Get Laid’ with the same logo,” he told Moneyish. “I tried to wrap it up in less than 20 minutes out of courtesy, but needless to say, we did not hire him.
“Especially in the today’s day and age with the Me Too movement, we feel it’s best to build our culture around a team of professionals who show each other mutual respect,” he added. “Given how this guy dressed on the job interview, I knew right off that he would not be a good cultural fit.”
These examples are worst-case scenarios, but many job seekers are guilty of making these common errors when they should showing the potential employee their best selves. Here’s the 10 instant deal-breakers that employers shared with CareerBuilder:
- Candidate is caught lying about something: 71%
- Candidate answers a cell phone or texts during the interview: 67%
- Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 59%
- Candidate appears to have a lack of accountability: 52%
- Candidate swears: 51%
- Candidate dresses inappropriately: 50%
- Candidate talks negatively about current or previous employers: 48%
- Candidate knows nothing about the job or company: 45%
- Candidate has unprofessional body language: 43%
- Candidate knows nothing about the industry or competitors: 35%
“There’s a lot riding on an interview — you have to make a great first impression, have knowledge of your target company and its product, and know exactly how to convey that you’re the perfect fit for the job,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder in a statement. “The best thing you can do for yourself is to prepare and practice everything from your body language to answers to standard interview questions. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so going in well-prepared is key.”
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