Hiring Managers Cite Latest Interview Blunders

One candidate asked for a cocktail.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey conducted by The Harris Poll, around half of employers (49%) know within the first five minutes of an interview if a candidate is a good or bad fit for a position, and 8% make up their mind within a half hour or longer.


Hiring managers and human resource professionals shared the most unusual things job candidates have done during the interview process:

  • Candidate did not have the skills to do the job and stated, “Fake it until you make it” as his personal philosophy.
  • Candidate asked interviewer if she was qualified to be doing her job.
  • Candidate asked for a cocktail.
  • Candidate asked to taste the interviewer’s coffee.
  • Candidate called a government job “something government-y.”
  • Candidate came to interview wearing slippers.
  • Candidate wore a Darth Vader outfit to the interview.
  • Candidate spent a lot of time quoting Dwight D. Eisenhower, which had nothing to do with the position he was interviewing for.
  • Candidate leaned far forward with his head down during the first five minutes of the interview.
  • Candidate offered interviewer pumpkins and said they transfer good energy.
  • Candidate pulled out a bag of drugs with his keys.
  • Candidate broke out in song in the middle of the interview.


Survey respondents also offered mistakes that will hurt a job candidate’s chances.

  • Caught lying about something: 71%;
  • Answers a cell phone or texts during the interview: 67%;
  • Appears arrogant or entitled: 59%;
  • Appears to have a lack of accountability: 52%;
  • Swears: 51%;
  • Dresses inappropriately: 50%;
  • Talks negatively about current or previous employers: 48%;
  • Knows nothing about the job or company: 45%;
  • Has unprofessional body language: 43%;
  • Knows nothing about the industry or competitors: 35%;
  • Fails to make eye contact: 68;
  • Doesn’t smile: 38%;
  • Plays with something on the table: 36%;
  • Fidgets too much in his/her seat: 32%;
  • Bad posture: 31%;
  • Crosses their arms over their chest: 31%;
  • Plays with hair or touches one’s face: 26%;
  • Handshake is too weak: 22%;
  • Uses too many hand gestures: 13%; and
  • Handshake is too strong: 8%.


The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 1,014 hiring and human resource managers ages 18 and older (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government), including 888 in the private sector between November 28 and December 20, 2017.