The worst ever interview fails revealed

Preparing candidates for an interview is the cornerstone of successful recruitment, however telling a potential employee not to eat lunch in front of the interview panel or to leave their parents at home may fall outside the recruiter’s job description.

A recent LinkedIn thread addressed this issue, with recruiters describing some of their most surprising candidate excuses for not attending interviews at all.

One such example came from a Dubai recruiter who was informed by a candidate that they would not be attending an interview as it was on the 60th floor of a building, and the candidate was “afraid of heights”.

Another example came from a recruiter with a candidate keen to monitor the weather, with the exchange reading:  "I can't attend the interview because of the snow!"

The recruiter replied that it was not snowing, to which the candidate replied “I know, but it could snow later”.

Yorkshire-based reported a raft of similar bizarre interview behaviour after running a survey on the subject, with spokesperson Mark Hall labelling some candidate behaviour as borderline offensive.

 "A job interview is a huge moment in a person's life, and it's only natural that nerves get the better of some," he said.

 "But that doesn't even come close to the shocking behaviour displayed by job hopefuls we've heard running this survey.

"Managers live in fear of being accused of discrimination when interviewing for a new employee, to the point that some even record the occasion just in case there's any comeback.”

Read a list of ten of the best stories below, from both interviewers and interviewees: 

  • "I asked the traditional 'Would you like a drink of water?' question to start things off, and he took this as the cue to start eating his packed lunch. He was civil enough to offer me a crisp, which I politely declined."
  • "We were interviewing for a senior sales post, and I genuinely had to ask one cocky guy if he'd brought enough chewing gum for the whole interview panel. It turns out he had."
  • "It's an old favourite, but candidates still ask how much sick leave they're allowed in a year. That immediately puts the word 'skiver' into my head. Don't ask, unless you're going to be open and honest about a long-term illness."
  • "I was going for a whole load of jobs at the same time. I sat down in front of the boss and asked 'Which one are you again?' He said 'If you don't know, you're in the wrong place', and that was the end of that."
  • "Seriously, don't bring your parents along to the interview, no matter how junior the position. You're a grown-up now, and you're going to have to speak for yourself. And if you think I'm joking, this has happened on at least three occasions while I've been on a board."
  • "I managed to insult the company's main trading partners in my interview by calling them 'rank amateurs and con merchants', something I would have known if I had done the tiniest bit of research first. The worst part was that I was trying to join the sales department, and I would have dealt with them every single day. Do your research!"
  • "Here's a few tips from your future boss. Don't call me 'mate', and don't try to fist-bump me when I offer my hand."
  • "Don't lie about your expertise. We're the experts, and we'll find you out in about five seconds flat if you're lying. As a manager, I'd much rather take on somebody who's honest about not knowing everything but is willing to learn. I'd never take on a liar."
  • One of the standard questions is 'Where do you see yourself in a year's time?' One young lady said 'Marrying my manager'. I was flattered, but my current wife would not have been impressed."
  • "I started an argument about politics in a job interview. So here's my tip: Never start an argument when you go for an interview, as they've got big scary security guards to escort you out of the building. They also seemed to have a panic button – not the best day of my life." 
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