Job Seekers Reveal True Character in Interviews

January 15, 2013 ( Inexperience with proper interview etiquette or the pressure to make a good impression can sometimes cause job seekers to show surprising errors in judgment.

Hiring managers interviewed by CareerBuilder provided examples of the most peculiar behaviors they witnessed in job interviews: 

  • Candidate said he had to quit a banking position because he was always tempted to steal; 
  • Candidate denied that he had a cell phone with him even though it could be heard ringing in the briefcase beside him; 
  • Candidate emptied the employer’s candy dish into her pocket; 
  • Candidate said he didn’t like getting up early and didn’t like to read; 
  • Candidate asked to be paid “under the table;
  • Candidate reached over and placed a hand on the interviewer’s knee; 
  • Candidate commented that he would do whatever it takes to get the job done, legal or not; 
  • Candidate hugged the president of the company; 
  • Candidate called his wife to see what they were having for dinner; 
  • Candidate asked to postpone the start date so she could still get holiday gifts from vendors at her current job; 
  • Candidate called in sick to her current employer during the interview, faking an illness; 
  • Candidate said he didn’t want the job if he had to work a lot; 
  • Candidate wouldn’t answer a question because he thought they would steal his idea and not hire him. 


Aside from these obvious examples, hiring managers cited other behaviors, seen more frequently, that are detrimental mistakes in job interviews. Appearing disinterested is the number one turnoff, according to 62% of employers.  

Other mistakes cited include: 

  • Answering a cell phone or texting60%;
  • Dressing inappropriately60%; 
  • Talking negatively about a current or previous employer58%; 
  • Failure to make eye contact72%; 
  • Failure to smile42%;  
  • Bad posture38%; 
  • Not providing specific examples34%; and 
  • A weak handshake28%. 
The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder among 2,611 hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,991 workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, nongovernment) between November 1 and November 30, 2012.