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The 15 strangest interview errors

21 January 2014

A recent survey revealed some surprising mistakes candidates have made, from the odd to the outrageous, and just how important first impressions are at interview.

The survey by HR firm CareerBuilder revealed that almost half of employers claimed they know within the first five minutes of an interview whether or not an applicant is a good fit for the job.

Survey respondents were also asked about the strangest things candidates had done at interview and the most common errors people make when trying to impress.

Most Memorable Mistakes

1. Applicant warned the interviewer that she "took too much valium" and didn't think her interview was indicative of her personality

2. Applicant acted out a Star Trek role

3. Applicant answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor

4. Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview

5. Applicant asked for a hug

6. Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview

7. Applicant brought personal photo albums

8. Applicant called himself his own personal hero

9. Applicant checked Facebook during the interview

10. Applicant crashed her car into the building

11. Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits

12. Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview

13. Applicant set fire to the interviewer's newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said "impress me"

14. Applicant said that he questioned his daughter's paternity

15. Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

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Common Mistakes

  • 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

Communication involves more than just words but not all interviewees remember this with the worst body language mistakes made in job interviews listed below:

  • 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, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

For employers, it is important to be prepared in order to get the best from the candidate and ensure that the interview remains on track. Selection and interviewing skills training can help those with recruitment responsibilities to be a more confident interviewer and to get the best person for the job.

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