Monthly Archives: May 2014

Stupid Job Interview Responses: Why Unemployment is Still a Problem for Many of the Unemployed

From time to time, a magazine article, blog, or website reveals the idiotic responses and actions from applicants before, during, and after job interviews. Here’s a collection that–hopefully–needs no further elaboration on the stupidity of the job applicants–unless they were interviewing for an available “village idiot” position. Is it any wonder why most hiring managers dread screening résumés and conducting interviews? You have your work cut out for you…

Took the edge off…with a drink.

“I swear this is true: Someone threw his beer can in the outside trash can before coming into the reception area.” Anonymous HR professional

Hey: TMI, people.

“A guy once talked during the interview about how an affair cost him a previous job.” Anonymous HR professional

Read the directions wrong.

“We ask prospective job applicants at our business to fill out a questionnaire. For the line ‘Choose one word to summarize your strongest professional attribute,’ one woman wrote, ‘I’m very good at following instructions.'” Anonymous HR professional

Grossed out the interviewer.

“Someone once blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.” Anonymous HR professional

Misunderstood the work.

“An individual applied for a customer-service job, and when asked what he might not like about the job, he said, ‘Dealing with people.'” Source: Robert Half Technology

Brought a sidekick. Who wasn’t patient.

“Once an applicant’s friend came in and asked, ‘How much longer?'” Anonymous HR professiona

Didn’t bother with research.

“It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” HR professional in New York City

Listed all experiences…relevant or not.

“I had somebody list their prison time as a job. And an exotic dancer who called herself a ‘customer service representative.'” Sharlyn Lauby, human resources consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Came hungry.

“I had someone eat all the candy from the candy bowl while trying to answer questions.” Anonymous HR professional

Called in an understudy.

“The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Gave more than a handshake.

“Someone applying for a job hugged me at the end of the interview.” Anonymous HR professional

Ordered in lunch.

“Applicant delivered prepaid Chinese food, including a fortune cookie with his name and phone.” Anonymous HR professional

Spammed a prospective employer.

“Applicant put up posters of himself in the company parking lot.” Anonymous HR professional

Wore the wrong outfit.

“The candidate arrived in a catsuit.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Got too creative.

“Applicant announced his candidacy with a singing telegram.” Anonymous HR professional

Thought he was larger than life.

“Applicant rented a billboard, which the hiring manager could see from his office, listing his qualifications.” Anonymous HR professional

Shared his “happy” hours.

“Candidate specified that his availability was limited because Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was ‘drinking time.'” Anonymous HR professional

Tried to justify the crime.

“Candidate explained an arrest by stating, ‘We stole a pig, but it was a really small pig.'” Anonymous HR professional

Forgot to proofread the cover letter.

“Advertising is a tough business. Which may be why one prospective adman wrote a cover letter boasting, ‘I am getting to my goal, slowly but surly.'” Anonymous HR professional

Was just weird.

“A job applicant came in for an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.” Source: Robert Half Technology

Cared about his appearance too much.

“A guy who forgot dark socks to wear with his suit colored in his ankles with a black felt-tip marker.” Source:

Cared about his hygiene too much.

“I once had a person clip her fingernails while we were speaking.” Source:

Had other business to conduct.

“I was interviewing someone who took a cell-phone call and asked me to leave my office while they talked.” Source:

Has a problem with authority.

“The candidate told the interviewer he was fired from his last job for beating up his boss.” Source:

He was a fugitive.

“The candidate said that by crossing the Maryland state line he was in violation of his probation but felt the interview was worth risking possible jail time.”  Source:

Something didn’t add up.

“An applicant said she was a ‘people person,’ not a ‘numbers person,’ in her interview for an accounting position.” Source:

Got a little too comfortable.

“A candidate complained that she was hot. She then said ‘Excuse me’ and removed her socks. After placing them on the desk, she continued as if everything was normal.”


(All of these examples came from Reader’s Digest online at


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Questions You Need to Ask During a Job Interview

Wow…back online after a fabulous vacation in Spain (Madrid, Toledo, Seville, and Barcelona) and smack in the midst of preparing for presentations and personal career consultations for upcoming international conference in June.

On the plane to Madrid, I came across an article in RealSimple Magazine entitled, “Do You Have Questions for Me?” The article offered with four smart questions you need to add to your arsenal during job interviews. You don’t have to ask all four, but I’m sure each specific job interview will present an opportunity to toss out one or two of them. So, here’s the article…

It’s the moment that you’ve been dreading. Your prospective boss leans forward and asks the question about, you know, questions. Moments before, you were chatting merrily. Now it’s crickets in the conference room. To end your interview on a high note (and to ensure that you’ve examined your future workplace as carefully as they’ve scrutinized you), stick one of these expert-recommended queries in your back pocket.

What is the most important quality I need to succeed in this position? Your would-be boss’s response gives you an inside look at the company’s value system, says Allyson Willoughby, the senior vice president of human resources at, a career site. For example, if your interviewer says “accountability,” you know that she will expect you to take responsibility for your actions. Plus, says Willoughby, “asking this question shows that you’re thinking about the importance of your work style, not just the skill set you offer.”

Can you describe a recent stressful workday that you experienced? Details about the not-so-great times can tell you as much, of not more, about the realities of day-to-day business as you would learn from abstract talk about the future. Your interviewer’s reply can also illuminate how she handles conflict, says Shannon King, the chief operating office of Levo, a career forum. If you follow up by asking her what could have made that day less challenging, she’ll understand that your aim is to make her life easier.

What would you expect a star performer to accomplish in the first 30 days? This question shows the boss that you will be results oriented; conversely, it gives you a preview of your future to-do list. “If you’re interviewed by multiple people for the same position, you would be smart to ask this of all of them,” says Priscilla Claman, the president of the Boston-based coaching firm Career Strategies Incorporated. “Then you can see if their answers differ.”

What are some of your favorite office traditions? Office culture matters. Chances are, you’ll want to know if the company has happy hour once a month or a killer Halloween party–or if, on the other hand, employees don’t socialize at all. The answer may lighten the mood in what can be a serious conversation. It will also give your interviewer a welcome opportunity to tell you what’s fun about working for the company.


OK, some good ideas. Pay attention to how the interview flows and you’ll know which of the questions can best cement your position going forward in the hiring process.

As always, if you have a specific topic you’d like me to address, let me know.

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