Most Memorable Blunders in Job Interviews

When it comes to a job interview, the first few minutes may be the most crucial. A new survey from CareerBuilder finds that nearly half (49 percent) of employers know within the first five minutes of an interview whether a candidate is a good or bad fit for the position, and 87 percent know within the first 15 minutes.

The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive from Nov. 6 to Dec. 2, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,201 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the U.S. across industries and company sizes. The survey results were released Thursday, Jan. 16.

When asked to share the most outrageous mistakes candidates made during a job interview, employers gave the following real-life examples:

  • Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality
  • Applicant acted out a Star Trek role
  • Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor
  • Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
  • Applicant asked for a hug
  • Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview
  • Applicant brought personal photo albums
  • Applicant called himself his own personal hero
  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview
  • Applicant crashed her car into the building
  • Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits
  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview
  • Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “impress me”
  • Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity
  • Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

The top most detrimental blunders candidates make in interviews are often the most common, according to employers:

  • Appearing disinterested – 55 percent
  • Dressing inappropriately – 53 percent
  • Appearing arrogant – 53 percent
  • Talking negatively about current or previous employers – 50 percent
  • Answering a cell phone or texting during the interview – 49 percent
  • Appearing uninformed about the company or role – 39 percent
  • Not providing specific examples – 33 percent
  • Not asking good questions – 32 percent
  • Providing too much personal information – 20 percent
  • Asking the hiring manager personal questions – 17 percent

Employers weighed in on the worst body language mistakes candidates make in job interviews:

  • Failure to make eye contact – 70 percent
  • Failure to smile – 44 percent
  • Bad posture – 35 percent
  • Fidgeting too much in one’s seat – 35 percent
  • Playing with something on the table – 29 percent
  • Handshake that is too weak – 27 percent
  • Crossing one’s arms over one’s chest – 24 percent
  • Playing with one’s hair or touching one’s face – 24 percent
  • Using too many hand gestures – 10 percent
  • Handshake that is too strong – 5 percent

“Employers want to see confidence and genuine interest in the position. The interview is not only an opportunity to showcase your skills, but also to demonstrate that you’re the type of person people will want to work with,” said Rosemary Haefner, VP of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

“Going over common interview questions, researching the company, and practicing with a friend or family member can help you feel more prepared, give you a boost in confidence, and help calm your nerves.”

Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada, and Asia.

Photo courtesy: CareerBuilder

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