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 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


    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.”



    Cared about his hygiene too much.

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



    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.”



    Has a problem with authority.

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



    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.” 


    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.”



    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.”



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    Your Comments

    • funperson

      I interviewed someone to be an Admissions officer at our university. When I asked her about her experience she said: “I filled out university application forms for my 3 kids.”

    • Lyn

      One time I told an interviewee to introduce herself. She told me her favorite color and favorite food. Seriously? What has that got to do with the job?

    • Mortimer Post

      How about an article on the WORST A S S H O L E interviewers for dogshit wage-slave jobs??? The only good “boss” is a DEAD boss!!!

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    • John Dc

      The Human Resources Department: The worst of all people. Why companies even have an HR Department other than to give condescending, arrogant women a job and make them feel important is beyond me.

    • Dami Fatale

      I think the most important thing you can do for a job interview is to just be the classiest most honest version of your self and, don’t do anything that you wouldn’t do in a church. Simple as that.

      • kittyconrad

        My gosh! Some people in church burp, fart, eat, sleep and take money from the collection plate!

    • The one

      We interviewed someone who said they were looking for a new job that paid more because he had to pad his paycheck at his current job just to make what he thought was fair. Absolutely true.

    • Chuck Penk

      Some of the stuff is wierd or just wrong to do in an interview. But other stuff like the posters of himself could be viewed as doing something to stand out in the crowd.

    • Mark

      #3 is the definition of irony hahaha