10 Weirdest Things Said and Done in Job Interviews

If you’ve ever interviewed candidates for a job, you know that candidates sometimes slip up and say things that they shouldn’t. But when I recently asked readers to share their stories of odd behavior by job applicants, we heard some doozies. Here are our favorite 10 weird interviewing moments, shared by readers. (And if you can top these, please share your own stories in the comment section!)

1. False claims of fame

“Once I had a guy show up for an interview in flip-flops and shorts, high as a kite. I asked him about a gap on his resume, and he said that during those two years he had been starring in a well-known television show. He had not been.”

2. Just back from the pool

“I once had a candidate show up for her interview directly from the pool. She still had on a wet bikini under a super short, strapless romper thing and flip flops. Her hair was still wet. The interview had been scheduled for over a week.”

3. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, part 1

“I once interviewed a job candidate who said she was interested in the position because she had ‘nothing better to do.’ No, thank you.”

4. Honesty isn’t always the best policy, part 2

“My friend was conducting an interview one time, and asked the candidate the dreaded, ‘What’s your worst quality?’ question.

Answer: ‘I’m kind of unreliable.’

Although my friend appreciated this woman’s honesty, she didn’t end up giving her the job.”

5. It’s an interview, not a pick-up

“I interviewed a candidate who started every sentence with ‘Oh baby…’ or ‘Well, pretty girl….’ I stopped him after the second time and told him it was inappropriate. He got offended that I failed to appreciate how ‘nice’ he was being.”

6. Insulting interviewee

“Recently a position opened on our team. Since our team is close and small, we all interviewed the candidates for this role. One woman we interviewed knew nothing about what we do, and followed up by insulting each of us individually. I think she thought she was being funny. She commented at length about my age and how it was weird for her to be interviewed by someone who looked like she should be in high school with her son (I’m young, but obviously not that young). She turned to all my coworkers and tried to get them to join in with her as she laughed at herself for being so clever. They all just joined me in looking back in horror. She also made fun of my name, which I share with a notoriously destructive hurricane. She managed to throw an insult out at each of us, even making fun of my coworker’s hair style. It was bizarre. I figured if you wanted a job the first step would be not insulting everyone who works there. I later found out she also insulted our receptionist when she arrived.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I work for a well known nonprofit so it’s important to us that employees believe in our mission. She explicitly said she didn’t care about our mission, but she was willing to try to work on it.”

7. Inappropriate bathroom habits, part 1

I was conducting a phone interview and the guy’s tone changes to a slight echo for about 5 or 6 minutes. As he is talking, I hear the toilet flush in the background and 60 seconds later there is no echo.

Yes, the guy was doing ‘business’ during an interview.”

8. Inappropriate bathroom habits, part 2

“I worked at a staffing firm a few years ago, and had some extremely interesting people come in for interviews. One guy realized toward the end of his interview that he wouldn’t be getting the position. His recruiter left the room for a minute to check something and came back to an oddly smelling empty room. The candidate had pooped in the potted plant.”

9. That’s not what we meant

“I asked a candidate, ‘Tell me about the biggest challenge that has taken up your time unexpectedly in the last 3 months.’

Her answer: ‘Well, I’ve started breastfeeding, and that can be tough. Sometimes painful even.’

I thought it was implied that we were looking for professional challenges, but I guess not.

10. Client-stealing donut deliverer

“We were hiring for a new intern and we had received hundreds of resumes by email, as requested in the listing. As we were combing through them on Monday morning, there’s a knock on the door to the office. Someone is standing there with a box of donuts. This person was applying for the internship position and brought the donuts along with his resume and a portfolio. He was acting kind of strange and kept hanging around after handing over the donuts/resume. He seemed to expect that we would interview him on the spot. We thanked him and told him we’d follow up with him later if we decided to interview him.

Out of mostly curiosity, my manager decides to interview him. Unfortunately, donut guy was quickly cut from the list because he admitted in the interview that he ‘only wanted the job because he wanted to gain experience and make connections with our clients. In the near future, he wanted to open his own business and was hoping to steal away our clients.’”

You think THAT was weird? Read: The 10 Most Horrifying Team Building Exercises











Alison Green

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

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  • http://julwilson83.wordpress.com/ Julia Wilson

    Hopefully #7 was an emergency situation!

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  • Susannah

    #7 is understandable if it was an emergency, but then perhaps don’t flush right away??

    [Reply]

  • http://www.itoctopus.com/ itoctopus

    Are these things for real? Do people really say/do these things during interviews?
    I did interview quite a few people so far – I did notice that there is an emerging trend right now. The stalker.

    You interview the stalker and then the next day s/he calls, asking about the job. And the same thing happens the day after, and after. And then you start receiving those crazy emails.

    The stalker is by far the most annoying out there. I wonder what they will do when they get hired – or worse – when they get fired!

    [Reply]

  • Veronica

    I had a woman once apply and interview for a position in which she would be responsible for a non-profit’s bank account of over $5M. During the interview I asked what she had been doing during a 5-year void in her resume. She said she was in prision for embezzelment.

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    Ummm Reply:

    Why on earth were you having them test for pregnancy? Isn’t that a huge violation of privacy? Drug tests for employment are supposed to be very strict about what they test for.

    [Reply]

    Ummm Reply:

    Sorry that was meant for Scott Miller below

    [Reply]

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  • nena

    After an interviewing a Vietnamese lady (she brought in an interpreter with her) I got up and walked around my desk to shake her hand and thank her for coming and she stretched out and gave me a big hug. VP of manufacturing had a good time picking on me for that one the rest of the day.

    The funniest one we had was a referral from a mail employee in our plant. During the interview the VP asked her how she knew John Doe. She said I met him when he stole my boyfriend. AWKWARD!

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  • Central

    In one interview, we asked what one gentleman’s strengths were, he looked both of us in the eye and said “Penetration”. It was so hard not to burst out laughing, so we had to ask exactly what he meant by that, to which he explained, it was actually predicting and remembering a customers order…

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  • Scott Miller

    I once had a prospective employee for a high level position back in the early 90′s. He had to take a drug test. I received the results a few days later and called my candidate who up to that point was ideal for the position. I told him the great news that his drug test came back negative, but I had to break it to him that he was pregnant. Yup somehow he slipped in his girlfriends urine sample as his own…

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    Ummm Reply:

    Why were you having them test for pregnancy? Isn’t that a huge violation of privacy? Drug tests for employment are supposed to be strict about what they test for.

    [Reply]

    Scott Miller Reply:

    At the time it was military related. Anything was up for analysis then, his protein levels were off the charts.

    [Reply]

    Ridge blank Reply:

    Ummm…. someone isn’t very bright.

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    TJ Reply:

    A man getting a positive pregnancy test indicates prostate cancer…

    [Reply]

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