Funny Interviews: Meet the Dumbest Job Applicants

Human resource pros share the worst things they've seen, from real candidates trying to get hired. Here's what not to do.


Also published in Reader's Digest Magazine April 2014
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    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 professional

    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

    iStock/Thinkstock

    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: Washingtonian.com

    Hemera/Thinkstock

    Cared about his hygiene too much.

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

    Source: Washingtonian.com

    iStock/Thinkstock

    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: Washingtonian.com

    iStock/Thinkstock

    Has a problem with authority.

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

    Source: Careerbuilder.com


    iStock/Thinkstock

    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: Washingtonian.com

    Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

    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: Careerbuilder.com

    iStock/Thinkstock

    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.”

    Source: Washingtonian.com

    Your Comments

    • L.W.

      The last job you interview for will be the one you get. Sounds silly but when all else fails it is a crutch to lean on. I have been working since I was a kid now but my girlfriend wasn’t so lucky as to escape the crash unscathed. While having a college diploma and “expectations” as it were, she took what she could including temp work and by contract work. Finally after years of using those other jobs to gather new skills in a different field, ironically enough HR as a benefits coordinator, she landed her dream job at the college that she graduated from. She couldn’t be happier but the difficulties in being declined or not hearing anything at all has certainly changed her as a person and her ability to always see the bright side. When looking at something down the road we always use the phrase “cautiously optimistic”. This countries hard times aren’t over yet. Anyone still looking just hang tough.

    • JohnnyNomad

      I would hire someone unconditionally if they did all of these things during a single interview.