Stranger Interviews: The weirdest job interview experiences revealed by managers

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People can do odd things when they’re nervous, especially when they’re in a situation as stressful as a job interview.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, managers have had plenty of awkward run-ins with candidates during job interviews. So much so that they’ve revealed their strangest interview moments of last year.

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“It’s hard to say why a candidate would do some things,” says career advisor Ladan Nikravan at CareerBuilder. “Maybe he or she is nervous, thinks an employer would find it funny, or perhaps the candidate simply has no boundaries. Regardless, it could cost the candidate the job.”

The survey – which also details the biggest interview and body language dealbreakers for hiring managers – polled over 2,600 hiring and human resource managers online in the U.S. between Nov. 16 and Dec. 6 last year.

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According to the findings, over half of employers (51 per cent) know if a candidate is a good fit within the first five minutes of an interview.

Here are the most bizarre scenarios reported by hiring managers:

  • A candidate asked to step away and call his wife to ask her if the starting salary was enough before he agreed to continue with the interview
  • A candidate asked where the nearest bar was
  • A candidate brought his childhood toys to the interview
  • A candidate ate a pizza he brought with him, and didn’t even share
  • A candidate asked the interviewers why her aura didn’t like the candidate
  • A candidate asked an interviewer to dinner afterwards
  • A candidate stated that if the interviewer wanted to get to heaven, she would hire him
  • A candidate sang to a song on the radio playing overhead
  • A candidate bragged about the fact that they were in the local newspaper for allegedly stealing a treadmill from an older woman’s house
  • A candidate put on and took over her sunglasses repeatedly

“As the saying goes, ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression,’ because hiring managers have a lot to do and other candidates to interview,” Nikravan says. “We don’t know how hiring managers reacted to the wacky responses candidates gave, but because the behaviour is bizarre, it’s best to assume a hiring manager won’t be fond of it.”

She added: “Something crazy – like eating pizza during an interview – should be avoided.”

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Biggest body language mistakes

“Nonverbal communication conveys subtle clues to a stranger, so you should try to impress a hiring manager with certain behaviours,” says Nikravan. “Body language leaves an impression on an interviewer and that impression can make or break your chances of getting the job.”

According to a 2013 Princeton University study, body language accurately conveys intense emotion better than facial expressions.

Image consultant Alison Craig agrees.

Craig says if what you’re verbally saying doesn’t match what your body is saying, people are more likely to believe your body language.

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“You could be saying how great you are, but your body could be giving your true feelings away,” Craig told

So being mindful of your body movement and language can really help you in your success, CareerBuilder says. These are some of the mannerism mistakes hiring managers most often came across:

  • 67 per cent failed to make eye contact
  • 39 per cent didn’t smile
  • 34 per cent played with something on the table
  • 32 per cent fidgeted too much in their seat
  • 32 per cent crossed their arms over their chests
  • 31 per cent had bad posture
  • 28 per cent played with their hair or touched their faces
  • 22 per cent had a weak handshake
  • 13 per cent used too many hand gestures
  • Nine per cent had a handshake that was too strong

If you want to make a good impression, Craig says to avoid hunching your shoulders and tucking your chin in to your chest, as that makes anyone seem closed off. Sit straight with your chest open – this will show you are confident and assertive.

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For more tips on minding your body language, click here.

How to ruin an interview

Candidates are constantly told what to do during interviews if they want to be considered for a job that they often forget what they shouldn’t do.

These are the five professional interviewing dealbreakers revealed by employers, according to CareerBuilder:

  • 66 per cent are turned off when a candidate is caught lying about something
  • 64 per cent cringe when a candidate answers a cellphone or text during an interview
  • 59 per cent don’t like it when a candidate appears arrogant or entitled
  • 49 per cent don’t like it when a candidate dresses inappropriately
  • 48 per cent are turned off when a candidate appears to have a lack of accountability

CareerBuilder’s findings mirrored those of a 2014 College Atlas survey that also polled hiring managers, as reported by Workopolis.

According to the survey, 55 per cent of those surveyed said first impressions are determined by the way you dress, act and walk through the door. This is followed by the quality of your voice, grammar and confidence (38 per cent) and the words you choose to say (seven per cent).

In fact, the way you dress can have such an impact that 65 per cent of hiring managers say it can be a deciding factor between two similar candidates.

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