CareerBuilder’s annual look at the strangest interview mistakes shows how frequently job seekers say and do the wrong things during interviews. Some could have been the result of nerves, and others are just so weird there’s no way to explain them.
Here are 13 outrageous and real interview mistakes that surveyed employers have experienced and how you should avoid them.
Strange interview mistake No. 1: Candidate said he had to quit a banking position because he was always tempted to steal.
Why it’s a mistake: No one wants to hire a potential thief.
What you should do: Say you wanted to explore other options or you needed a position that aligned with your career goals. Honesty is great, but an employer doesn’t want to hear that you’re possibly going to rob the company.
Strange interview mistake No. 2: Candidate denied that he had a cell phone with him even though it could be heard ringing in his briefcase.
Why it’s a mistake: A ringing phone is a simple mistake; a lie is a deal breaker.
What you should do: Say “Excuse me” and quickly turn the ringer off. A sincere apology shows you’re sorry and lets you get back to the conversation at hand.
Strange interview mistake No. 3: Candidate emptied the employer’s candy dish into her pocket.
Why it’s a mistake: It’s just weird.
What you should do: Take a single piece of candy like a normal person. Pouring the entire bowl of candy into your purse seems like you have no manners.
Strange interview mistake No. 4: Candidate said he didn’t like getting up early and didn’t like to read.
Why it’s a mistake: Separately, these statements sound like red flags warning the employer you’re not keen on working too hard. Together, these statements are worrisome.
What you should do: If early morning isn’t your preferred time to rise, you can admit that as long as you counter it by saying you have no trouble staying late. This only works if getting up early isn’t vital to the position for which you’re applying. Also, if you’re asked what books you’ve read recently, you should have at least one title to mention. If the questions continue down that path, explain that you spend most of your time outdoors or doing something else productive with your time.
Strange interview mistake No. 5: Candidate asked to be paid “under the table.”
Why it’s a mistake: Hopefully Illegal activity is frowned upon by all employers.
What you should do: Don’t ask to be paid illegally.
Strange interview mistake No. 6: Candidate reached over and placed a hand on the interviewer’s knee.
Why it’s a mistake: Aside from the handshake, you shouldn’t really touch the interviewer.
What you should do: Keep your hands folded on your lap, writing in your notebook or resting on the table. Basically, keep them anywhere that isn’t the interviewer’s body.