Four Job Interview Flubs You Must Avoid

There are many ways to stand out in a job interview, but bringing an exotic bird instead of a briefcase to the meeting probably isn’t the best option.

Robert Half, a leading staffing firm, frequently conducts surveys of hiring managers and workers, asking them to recount the biggest interview blunders they’ve witnessed or heard of.

The following examples represent the most memorable mistakes collected from these polls over the years:

“A job applicant came in for an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.”

“The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.”

“One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions.”

“When asked by the hiring manager if he had any questions for him, the candidate replied by telling a knock-knock joke.”

“One candidate handcuffed himself to the desk during the interview.”

The surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm. They include responses from senior executives, human resources managers, and employed professionals in the United States and Canada who were interviewed over the years, starting in 2002.

To help applicants put their best foot forward, Robert Half recently launched a series of light-hearted videos depicting interviews that have gone awry. The videos, along with tips for avoiding common blunders, can be found at

“For most job candidates, an interview mistake is subtle — for example, they may appear unenthusiastic or too nervous to let their personalities shine through,” explained Brett Good (pictured above), a senior district president for Robert Half.

“Job seekers should remember hiring managers aren’t just assessing their qualifications but also looking for signs of outstanding people skills and good judgment.”

Robert Half offers advice on avoiding four common interview mistakes:

Going on and on and on — While you certainly don’t want to give a series of one-word responses, be careful not to ramble. Be thorough, yet succinct. Don’t over-answer or attempt to fill dead air between questions.

Poor ‘posturing’ — It’s not just what you say but how you say it. Slouching, constantly shifting in your chair, crossing your arms or wearing a tense expression can signal nervousness or disinterest.

Ranting and raving — It’s important to be tactful and diplomatic. Criticizing former employers only makes you look bad. Even a mildly sarcastic quip can raise red flags. When in doubt, take the high road.

Throwing in the towel — Don’t act dejected if you feel the interview is going poorly. If you fumble a response, maintain your composure and move on. Showing that you can swiftly recover after a setback might actually work in your favor.

Robert Half released this information today, July 14.

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Rakesh Raman