‘My mum says give me the contract’

Technical nous is definitely what end-users currently want most from their new recruits but it is useless without good, everyday judgement, a staffing firm releasing interview howlers has shown.  

From giving responses only in song to making family phone calls mid-interview, financial recruitment agency Robert Half released the seven most toe-curling blunders that job hopefuls committed at interview.

  •  “One person brought his mother to the job interview and let her do all of the talking.”
  •  “A job applicant came in for an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.”
  • “The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.”
  • “After answering the first few questions, the candidate picked up his mobile and called his parents to let them know the interview was going well.”
  • “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.”

Interpersonal abilities, or lack thereof, got the following job-seekers into trouble:

  • “When asked by the hiring manager why she was leaving her current job, the applicant said, ‘My manager is a jerk. All managers are jerks.’”
  • “I interviewed someone who had a jawbreaker in her mouth during the entire interview.”

Other candidates ‘put the cart before the horse’ by issuing demands about salary, benefits or perks. These “unwise” applicants should have focused on the employer’s needs, the agency said.

  • “When asked what motivated him, the job seeker replied, ‘I’ve got a big house and a big car and a big credit card balance. Pay me, and I’ll be happy.’”
  • “The applicant told me he really was not interested in the position, but he liked that we allowed for a lot of time off.”

Some candidates were a bit too candid to the client’s HR personnel.

  • “In response to the hiring manager’s offer to answer questions about the position, the job seeker replied, ‘What happens if I wake up in the morning and don’t feel like going to work?’” 
  • “One prospect told me all of the reasons he shouldn’t be hired.”
  • “The candidate said she would really prefer a job offer from our competitor.”

But Robert Half said that it is actually the opposite – dishonesty –that remains the biggest sin at interview stage:   

  • “After being complimented on his choice of college and the standing he achieved, the candidate replied, ‘I’m glad that got your attention. I didn’t really go there.’” 
  • “After arriving for an early morning interview, the job seeker asked to use the hiring manager’s phone. She proceeded to fake a coughing fit as she called in sick to her boss.”
Thursday 23rd June 2011