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

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

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