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

    • TGrimm

      Ok, One, I am a full time college student studying Criminal Justice at 45 years old. I have been a Fast Food worker and manager for most of my adult life but now that I am married and my husband is in the U. S. Army, I am able to use his GI Bill money to go back to school. I do not work at this time and I do not plan on working till after I am done with my BS degree. It will cost my a lot of money to go forward but student loans are available to me so I use them. I know that after I do start to work in my field of chose, I will be able to pay back all of my loans. Two, I have lived with a very bad head injury for the last 25 years. The Doctors told my family that if I was going to live, they would need to put my in an institution because I will not be able to function as an adult because of the Brain injury. I have never been in an institution. I have survived living in this economy, in the past on minimum wage when, it was $5.25, by knowing important facts about surviving in this concrete jungle. 1. Don’t spend money you don’t have. 2. pay your bills first. 3. Don’t quit a job without having another one first. 4. If you lose your job, no matter what the reason is, apply at Mc Donalds if you have to. They do pay just above minimum wage, and 5. it really is not what you know, it is who you know that can help you get your life back on track. I keep people I know can help me in what ever I need the help in, as friends. It may have taken me a lot longer to get to the point I want to be at, but I have done the things I needed to do to get there. I’m still working on getting further in life. I will always try to learn new subjects and I will always try to do my best in whatever I decide to do. English as a subject for a degree can get you what you want in life only if you market yourself as the way you see yourself. If you are looking at yourself and seeing a lazy, just going day to day type person, no one will hire you. If you see yourself as a successful, independent, go getter, it will show in the interviews, and that does hold a lot of credit.

      • frjm

        To: Tgrimm
        Did you misspell some of your words just for fun or are you really a college student who just can’t spell?

        • Maxwell Smart

          This, btw, is why they have “English” classes, so you can learn to proof read your own writing. Not the laser, spell chock, wish doesn’t car weather you use the write words or knot. Two, English is important and would have taught you that prior to making a statement preceded by ‘two’, it is generally accepted practice to have a prior statement preceded by a ‘one’. Not that I am judging, o’lordy no, not to judge just to point out, bless your heart.

      • Wixell Bickford

        Dang Micky D, I couldn’t get past the 2nd sentence without my eyes glazing over. First thing you learn in college is to not be a big bore – you sure you went?

        • LBB

          Wixell Bickford, I think you are the bore. Picking on someone who is obviously very sincere and trying to better herself. Were you a bully in high school also?

      • Maxwell Smart

        Ummm gee whiz, how incredibly wonderful for you. Now, if you don’t mind, and really I’m just asking not telling, but umm, if you could find time in your obviously busy schedule, and just to toss the idea out there, umm, could you throw in a placating sentence relating to topic?

    • Ondreij Schevchenko

      because HR people are just really awesome people that ended up in that job bc . . .that was their life goal. I envy them. Pfffft.

    • Andrewmag166

      Well we can’t all be brilliant like HR roll eyes.

    • DM

      You can be a people person AND a numbers person in an Accounting position. Especially if you are being interviewed for a team leader position. That one was kind of dumb.

    • Mortimer Post

      “JOBS” are for pitiful wage-slaves! This is just another snide article that should be flushed down the nearest pissoir!
      How about THIS…
      an article on the WORST INTERVIEWER A-HOLES!

      • OneManITDept

        See my responses:)

    • ShockTheMonkey

      Many of these ideas sound highly imaginative and therefore disqualify the interviewee from working in corporate American.

    • Ol John Brown

      Alot of those reasons were just the bias of some holier-than-now hiring manager. How about the parol violator? Poor guy wasn’t a fugitive he was just trying to find work in a system that is designed to increase his likelihood to fail.

      • Wixell Bickford

        Parol? Think it’s parole. And in the real world being on parole is not a good thing, it means a person has done something bad. Employers don’t want to hire bad people. Hope this helps you sort things out.

        • MarkDonners

          In the real world, for America’s for profit largest prison gulags in the world, “doing something bad” has nothing to do with it. Once you’re in the hands of the US justice system you might as well throw yourself off a cliff, especially if you’re a juvenile or an indigent, since your future education and job careers are ruined, by design and profits for the benefit of the US “justice” crooks

    • Baldwin Wallace

      I’ve had NUMEROUS blacks who have listed “sex” and “making babies” as “skills” that they consider are their “best.” I have heard “I’m really good at sex” so many times….

      What are they thinking?

      They truly believe that this is something to be proud of — that they are sex-obsessed and that it is on their mind all of the time and that it controls their lives!

      They only want a job so they can buy things that will help them to get MORE sex. UNBELIEVABLE.

      • Andrewmag166

        Yeah being a good lover is a good thing but I always thought it was funny they pride themselves on being thought of as nothing more than a dild@. But that seems to be all white women want so guess they are on to something, white women line up for a black gehet@ junkie and I can’t even get a date, but hey I have a ton of money now.

        • Writer1981

          I don’t know any white women that are lining up for black guys, EXCEPT for the fat, ugly, desperate for anyone to love them ones … or the young ones that they’ve hooked on drugs.

          You don’t see a college grad white lady dating an unemployed ghetto guy who’s dealing drugs.

          Black guys want you to believe that all white women love and desire them, but it’s only the ones with major flaws (other than the gold-diggers that go after rich athletes, entertainers, etc.).

          If you look at it financially, it is better off to stay single and date escorts or gold diggers and then dump them before putting a ring on it. You’ll be way further ahead than dealing with a divorce down the road.

          • Andrewmag166

            Well wish that was true, but it’s not just look around, all the white women just belong to blacks, I only go with asian or black women cause they don’t like blacks, they are actually more into education family things like that, white women are the ultimate sk@nks to me. But yeah I agree pay a woman for what you want want.

            • Writer1981

              You must live in a horrible place. I don’t see any attractive girls with black guys; just the big, fat, ugly hogs … the kind that can’t get anyone else to date them. The black guys like that crap, or else they don’t really have any standards as long as she has a hole.

        • Baldwin Wallace

          Fat, ugly, desperate for a boyfriend, naive, stupid white hogs spread for feral black savages. Rarely do you see an educated, attractive, or white girl who has a daddy … dating a black — unless the black is rich.

      • Wixell Bickford

        Time to step out of your Mamma’s basement.

        • Baldwin Wallace

          My apologies that you don’t know who your father is… maybe if your mom wasn’t such a welfare-4-life whore.

    • 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.

      • Wixell Bickford

        The decline of Western Civilization is just exactly the same as your girlfriend growing up.

    • JohnnyNomad

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