If you’ve ever interviewed candidates for a job, you know that candidates sometimes slip up and say things that they shouldn’t. But when I recently asked readers to share their stories of odd behavior by job applicants, we heard some doozies. Here are our favorite 10 weird interviewing moments, shared by readers. (And if you can top these, please share your own stories in the comment section!)
1. False claims of fame
“Once I had a guy show up for an interview in flip-flops and shorts, high as a kite. I asked him about a gap on his resume, and he said that during those two years he had been starring in a well-known television show. He had not been.”
2. Just back from the pool
“I once had a candidate show up for her interview directly from the pool. She still had on a wet bikini under a super short, strapless romper thing and flip flops. Her hair was still wet. The interview had been scheduled for over a week.”
3. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, part 1
“I once interviewed a job candidate who said she was interested in the position because she had ‘nothing better to do.’ No, thank you.”
7. Inappropriate bathroom habits, part 1
I was conducting a phone interview and the guy’s tone changes to a slight echo for about 5 or 6 minutes. As he is talking, I hear the toilet flush in the background and 60 seconds later there is no echo.
Yes, the guy was doing ‘business’ during an interview.”
8. Inappropriate bathroom habits, part 2
“I worked at a staffing firm a few years ago, and had some extremely interesting people come in for interviews. One guy realized toward the end of his interview that he wouldn’t be getting the position. His recruiter left the room for a minute to check something and came back to an oddly smelling empty room. The candidate had pooped in the potted plant.”
9. That’s not what we meant
“I asked a candidate, ‘Tell me about the biggest challenge that has taken up your time unexpectedly in the last 3 months.’
Her answer: ‘Well, I’ve started breastfeeding, and that can be tough. Sometimes painful even.’
I thought it was implied that we were looking for professional challenges, but I guess not.
4. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, part 2
“My friend was conducting an interview one time, and asked the candidate the dreaded, ‘What’s your worst quality?’ question.
Answer: ‘I’m kind of unreliable.’
Although my friend appreciated this woman’s honesty, she didn’t end up giving her the job.”
5. It’s an interview, not a pick-up
“I interviewed a candidate who started every sentence with ‘Oh baby…’ or ‘Well, pretty girl….’ I stopped him after the second time and told him it was inappropriate. He got offended that I failed to appreciate how ‘nice’ he was being.”
6. Insulting interviewee
“Recently a position opened on our team. Since our team is close and small, we all interviewed the candidates for this role. One woman we interviewed knew nothing about what we do, and followed up by insulting each of us individually. I think she thought she was being funny. She commented at length about my age and how it was weird for her to be interviewed by someone who looked like she should be in high school with her son (I’m young, but obviously not that young). She turned to all my coworkers and tried to get them to join in with her as she laughed at herself for being so clever. They all just joined me in looking back in horror. She also made fun of my name, which I share with a notoriously destructive hurricane. She managed to throw an insult out at each of us, even making fun of my coworker’s hair style. It was bizarre. I figured if you wanted a job the first step would be not insulting everyone who works there. I later found out she also insulted our receptionist when she arrived.
And as if that wasn’t enough, I work for a well known nonprofit so it’s important to us that employees believe in our mission. She explicitly said she didn’t care about our mission, but she was willing to try to work on it.”
10. Client-stealing donut deliverer
“We were hiring for a new intern and we had received hundreds of resumes by email, as requested in the listing. As we were combing through them on Monday morning, there’s a knock on the door to the office. Someone is standing there with a box of donuts. This person was applying for the internship position and brought the donuts along with his resume and a portfolio. He was acting kind of strange and kept hanging around after handing over the donuts/resume. He seemed to expect that we would interview him on the spot. We thanked him and told him we’d follow up with him later if we decided to interview him.
Out of mostly curiosity, my manager decides to interview him. Unfortunately, donut guy was quickly cut from the list because he admitted in the interview that he ‘only wanted the job because he wanted to gain experience and make connections with our clients. In the near future, he wanted to open his own business and was hoping to steal away our clients.’”