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HR Reps Confess The Most Cringe-Worthy Things They’ve Seen From Job Candidates

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

1 / 27

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. Know these things an HR person won’t tell you about keeping your job.

2 / 27

Hey: TMI, people

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

3 / 27

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.

4 / 27

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. Never make these outfit mistakes when going to an interview.

5 / 27

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

6 / 27

Brought a sidekick. Who wasn’t patient

“Once an applicant’s friend came in and asked, ‘How much longer?'” —Anonymous HR professional. Avoid these cover letter disasters that won’t get you an interview.

7 / 27

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

8 / 27

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. 

9 / 27

Came hungry

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

10 / 27

Called in an understudy

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

11 / 27

Gave more than a handshake

“Someone applying for a job hugged me at the end of the interview.” —Anonymous HR professional. These resume mistakes could cost you the job.

12 / 27

Ordered in lunch

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

13 / 27

Spammed a prospective employer

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

14 / 27

Wore the wrong outfit

“The candidate arrived in a catsuit.” —Source: Robert Half Technology. These are the secrets your HR department isn’t telling you.

15 / 27

Got too creative

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

16 / 27

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

17 / 27

Shared his “happy” hours

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

18 / 27
iStock/Patrick Heagney

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. 

19 / 27

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

20 / 27

Was just weird

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

21 / 27

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

22 / 27

Cared about his hygiene too much

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

23 / 27

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

24 / 27

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

25 / 27
iStock/Ivan Bliznetsov

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

26 / 27

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

27 / 27

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. Next, read about the weirdest jobs you didn’t know you could apply for.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest