Interviewees Say the Darndest Things
By Rachel Farrell, CareerBuilder.com writer
You can always depend on young children to tell you exactly what they think, or precisely how they feel on any given topic. Want to know if your breath smells bad, if you should wear a different tie or if you really look fat in that outfit? Find a 5-year-old. He will give you an uncensored, honest answer.
Needless to say, we expect more from adults. Especially adults who are interviewing for a job.
For the second year in a row, we asked hiring managers everywhere to tell us the craziest thing they’ve ever heard in an interview. Keep reading for 37 hilarious (and true) statements from the job candidates:
1. “I interviewed a gentleman who looked great on paper but said two things during the interview that made me think, ‘Really?’ When starting the interview, I asked him what his hobbies were, to lighten the mood. He replied, ‘I sometimes walk up to perfect strangers just to say hello. I also like to pick up trash if I see some when I’m walking around.’ After I asked him how the position would contribute to his professional goals and future plans, he replied, ‘My main goal is to be a rock star; this is more of a backup plan.'” — Jessica Harrington, marketing associate, Eastern Michigan University
2. “I remember interviewing a secretary some years ago and asking her, ‘What is important to you in a job?’ Her answer was: ‘I want to work close to Bloomingdales.'” — Bettina Seidman, career management coach, Seidbet Associates
3. “‘When your workload is heavy and you are overwhelmed, how do you handle the stress?’ ‘I run in the bathroom and cry.'” — Jessica Simko, Career Branding Guide
4. “We performed mock interviews where our clients were put in an interview session using their real backgrounds, interests, etc. When asked why the client left her last job, which was in a family buffet-style restaurant, her response was, ‘I was hungry and didn’t know it would be a problem so I had pizza delivered to the restaurant while was on the clock.'” — Jacqueline Lisenby, chief visionary officer and president, StatusJ Entertainment Group
5. “I interviewed a senior engineer for one of our open positions. He demanded coffee and proceeded to spill coffee in his lap. Then he pointed to his groin area, laughed and said, ‘It looks like I wet myself!’ Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.” — Lisa Hall, human resources trainer and author of “Taking Charge of Your Own Health”
6. “I recently had the craziest interviewee ever come into our offices for a copywriter position. I wanted enthusiastic, but this guy was so over the top, I almost laughed in the middle of the interview. He high-fived someone on my team after hearing that my team member just got engaged. He talked about how terrible his boss was for a good 20 minutes. He said he felt like he was already working with us. And then he left something behind so that he could come back and get it. He called wondering when he could come back, and we [saw] him prepping in the parking lot.” — Amanda Halm, senior copywriter, editor, Bridezilla.com
7. “Without a doubt, the craziest thing I ever heard came from a candidate for an entry-level management position. He looked perfect on paper, so we scheduled a phone interview for 3 p.m. He answered the phone and when I introduced myself he said, ‘Hold on, I’m at a bar. Let me finish this shot and go outside.’ Amidst the noise of an active game of pool and a rowdy bar crowd, he slipped outside and told me, ‘You know what? I’m a little drunker than I thought. Can we reschedule?’ Needless to say, we did not.” — Heather Lytle, senior partner, H&L Media Partners
8. “While I am not the interviewer for a corporation, having been in many interviews for opportunities, I have actually heard a number of interesting, crazy, less-tactful things said from the interviewer side. The worst was, I drove two hours to do an in-person, one-hour interview and the interviewer was 30-40 minutes late to the interview, even though she walked by me in the lobby six or seven times with a bag of chips talking about her personal life to the receptionist. When she finally came out to get me, she didn’t even act shocked or sorry for the delay, and just said, ‘I was munching on a bag of chips and time flies when you’re eating chips.’ Let’s just say I knew then it wouldn’t be a good fit.” — Chris Perry, founder of Career Rocketeer
9. “We recently asked a job candidate, ‘What do you know about us?’ He leaned back in his chair and replied, ‘Not much. Why don’t you fill me in?’ He wasn’t hired.” — John Kramb, Adams County Winery
10. “We always include a casual lunch or dinner portion during an interview to continue our discussions in a more informal manner. This candidate let their guard down, falling out of their ‘interview mode,’ during the friendly and casual meal-time discussions. They went so far as to share that they installed an illegal second network in their office with co-workers and would spend their afternoons gaming on the clock. They then went on to further share how regularly in the mornings and afternoons they would sleep at their desk during working hours. Bragging that they had never once been caught in either of these acts. Needless to say, this candidate was not hired. Prior to this meal-time, more casual discussion, they were likely to be made an offer. The lesson learned and to be shared is that you are on the interview from before you arrive at a location until you have returned home. I was truly surprised that such a smart individual would make such a stupid mistake by sharing such obviously unacceptable work practices with a potential new employer.” — Zachary Z. Zguris, chief technology officer, Lime Design Inc.
11. “The interview was for a highly visible administrative assistant position. Clearly, I was looking for someone who would exercise tact with top-caliber people who would come into our office. I opened the interview with a fairly standard question:
‘What is it that attracts you to this job the most?’ Without hesitation, she replied, ‘My mother thinks this will be the right job for me.'” — Bill Lampton, president, Championship Communication
12. “We have the standard lists of questions you’d expect to hear, but at any given moment, I’ll interject with, ‘If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?’ The most shocking response was, ‘I’d be a cat so I can lay around all day and not have to do anything.'” — Efrain Ayala, account executive, Walt Denny Inc., The Home Products Agency
13. “The man’s phone kept ringing. Finally, he answered it and he said, ‘Hello. No. I’m fine. OK.’ Of course, it was rude and uncalled for in my opinion, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt and asked if everything was OK. He basically said nothing was wrong but that his wife was checking in. He had not flown in for the interview. He was local.” — T. Murray, author of “Stuck on Stupid: A Guide for Today’s Professional Stuck in a Rut”
14. “The most bizarre experience I ever had was regarding a candidate who was offered a position with my client. Because she had disclosed that she had a college degree, she was required to produce proof in the form of transcripts, diploma, etc. She told us that she was unable to produce the required documentation because her identity had been changed and that the information the firm was seeking was in her previous name. Due to safety reasons, she was unable to produce proof (in any name she had or was using).” — Cathleen Faerber, managing director, The Wellesley Group Inc.
15. “I was interviewing an older woman for a position in my company. I thought she had a great personality and was considering hiring her. Then at the end of the interview she asked if I would be able to give her a ride to work and then back home again everyday! Umm, no.” — Janice Celeste, president and CEO, Celeste Studios Film & Video
16. “I had a woman come in and tell me that she ran a business around the corner and that she would be working this job, as well as managing her business during business hours. I wanted to be sure that I understood her correctly — that she would be taking time away from the position with me to ‘check in’ on her store periodically. But when I asked her a few questions to clarify, she became upset with me and ended up storming out of my office.” — Shay Olivarria, speaker and author of “Bigger Than Your Block”
17. “One job candidate arrived late for the interview, in a not-so-gracious mood. ‘The commute is terrible,’ she said. ‘I’m so glad I don’t have to do this every day.'” — Sammie Samuella Becker, CEO, TigressPR
18. “I had a candidate in the final interview stages. He pretty much had the job. He was invited to interview with a couple of people who would become peers as last step in the process. One would-be peer asked my candidate to demonstrate to them his work ethic and drive, to which he replied, ‘You can just strap a saddle on my a** and ride me!’ Apparently, he was hoping to show what a workhorse he is. As you might imagine, he did not get the job.” — Jenny Foss, recruiting agency owner, recruiter and job search consultant
19. “I interviewed a candidate over the phone for a sales position. Less than five minutes into the call, I began to hear water swishing and realized that the candidate was taking a bath during the phone interview.” — Jessica Miller-Merrell, owner, Xceptional HR
20. “I had a candidate come into my office with her child and proceed to breastfeed her baby boy during the interview. There was no acknowledgment or mention from the woman I was interviewing about the baby or him eating.” — Miller-Merrell
21. “While interviewing a young lady who was wearing a revealing top, at the end of the interview, she leaned forward and said in a sultry voice, ‘I’ll do anything to get this job.’ She got people’s attention, but eliminated herself from getting hired.” — Ronald Kaufman consultant and author of “Anatomy of Success”
22. “One [candidate] came in dressed very professionally and really looked like she had made an effort to look the part. Some people assume because we are laid back and bring our pets to work, that we are extremely casual and will show up for an interview dressed in jeans, so this was a nice change. Toward the end of the interview, I complimented her on how professional she looked. She got this huge smile and looked down at her clothes and said, ‘I know. I think I look like Mary Tyler Moore; that’s why I wore this!’ We ended up hiring her and she was such a quirky, fun, enthusiastic employee with a style all her own.” — Cindy Lukacevic, owner/vice president of marketing, Dinovite Inc.
23. “While wrapping up a seemingly decent interview with a young lady for an administrative assistant position, I asked her if she had any questions. She asked one or two default questions about the company then — drum roll — she says, ‘I used my last bit of change to put gas in my car to make it here. Is there any way that you could help me out?’ Needless to say, I was floored and the candidate did not get the job.” — Clorissa Wright, senior publicist, WrightWay Marketing and Consulting
24. “‘I like to date the young ones, is that bad?’ and ‘I love older women, do you really only have women working in your organization?’ Those are the two I will never forget.” — Greg Palomino, CRE8AD8
25. “I was working for a private investigator and interviewing applicants for a decoy position, in which they could possibly be confronted with various situations while investigating everyone from potentially cheating wives to drug dealers. I asked a guy in his early 20s, ‘What would you do if you were working undercover and someone you were investigating starting using drugs?’ He laughed, ‘Oh, it wouldn’t bother me. I mean, I have a medical marijuana card and all. You know, anxiety and stuff.’ ‘Oh, really?’ I noticed his eyes were slightly glassy. ‘Yep.’ He grinned. ‘So, are you high now?’ I asked. A chuckle. ‘Just a little!’ ‘Oh, just a little?’ I replied. ‘When did you last smoke?’ ‘Oh, before I left my place to come here.’ He didn’t get the job.” –Lauren Gard, Infinite Public Relations
26. “Over a nice dinner, the president of a company conducted a final interview with a vice president of sales candidate. At the end of the interview, the job was going to be offered to the candidate. The waiter brought the bill and the candidate, who was employed at the time, took it, pulled out his company credit card and said, ‘Don’t worry about this, I’ll put it on my company’s expense account.’ The president later said he didn’t know which shocked him more, the lack of ethics or the candidate’s stupidity. Obviously the job offer was never extended.” — Brian Marchant-Calsyn, Health Career Agents
27. “An executive search recruiter was explaining the qualities needed for the job: multitasking, hard-working, time management skills, attention to detail, etc. The candidate responded with, ‘I can’t do that. I’m not a robot.'” –Andrea Friedman, public relations coordinator, The LaSalle Network, a Chicago professional staffing and recruiting company
28. “A recruiter was in the midst of an interview, when the candidate asked, ‘Do you mind if I use your kitchen to eat my turkey sandwich?'” — Friedman
29. “An executive search recruiter asked the candidate, who was previously an accounting manager, what their ideal job would be. The candidate responded with, ‘A Playboy photographer.'” — Friedman
30. “I had to interview for a position that required organization, time management and attention to detail. My candidate was young, in his early 20s, and wore all black to the interview. We were a very casual office, so I thought nothing of it. But when I asked him to describe for me an instance when he had managed his time effectively, he cited managing his time in dungeon raids in the online game ‘World of Warcraft.’ When I said I knew the game and had even played it a bit, he took that as his cue to answer all my questions with ‘World of Warcraft’ examples. The word ‘necromancer’ came up far too many times. Needless to say, I was looking for real-world examples and he didn’t get the position.” — Jennifer Escalona
31. “One of the funniest things an applicant said to me was in response to my question, ‘What do you like in an office environment?’ The applicant said, ‘I like 42nd and Broadway.’ Needless to say, that wasn’t what I was asking, and that wasn’t anywhere near our office location.” — Sharon Armstrong, author of “The Essential Performance Review Handbook”
32. “‘I have a hunch that someone in your office is dating an ex-boyfriend/acquaintance of mine and I feel that’s too awkward of a conflict of interest. I will not accept any job based on this kind of pork-chop recommendation.’ Especially amusing because no one in our office at the time was dating any men. We still have no idea where the candidate came up with this theory, or what exactly she means by ‘pork-chop recommendation,’ for that matter.” — Anne Howard, Lynn Hazan & Associates
33. “In an interview, the oddest thing has to be a candidate asking if we had any
food that she could have.” — Howard
34. “When I interview candidates, I always ask the following questions in this order: What are you most proud of? What do you enjoy doing? Why did you leave your previous jobs? Here are the answers I received from one candidate: ‘I am most proud of my wife and children.’ ‘The thing I enjoy most is spending time with my family.’ ‘I decided to quit. I had an affair with a co-worker and when we broke up there was too much tension in the office.’ And he said it without batting an eye.” — Bruce, executive recruiter and career counselor, Hurwitz Strategic Staffing Ltd.
35. “One time during an interview, a candidate removed his flip-flops and literally stuck his foot in my face. Another time, I was interviewing a candidate who asked me out on a date three times in five minutes. I had to remind him that he was on an interview — not speed dating.” — Heather Araneo, branch manager, Snelling Staffing – The Wyckoff Group
36. “Interviewer (president of a mid-sized company): Do you plan on having children?
Answer (me/candidate): Yes, at some point.
Interviewer: Do you intend to continue working then?
Interviewer: What are you going to do, be like a cow and drop it in the middle of a field?” — Janice Warren, director, OneReport, SRI World Group
37. “One day, I met with a candidate who, on his résumé, had good experience and education. I was going through the normal interview questions with him when I asked him which accounting system he had implemented. His response was immediate: ‘PEACHTREE!’ But then he started shaking his head and saying, “No, no, no’ and then he slapped himself across the face and said ‘NO! QUICKBOOKS!'” — Meghan Norman, corporate recruiter