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CareerBuilder Releases Annual List of Strangest Interview Blunders

Survey Identifies Six Common Interview Mistakes That Can Cost You the Job

CHICAGO, Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- One-in-four workers (25 percent) reported they plan to change jobs in 2013 or 2014.  If you're looking to make a move in the New Year, check out CareerBuilder's annual study on the most common – and most outlandish - job interview mistakes to avoid.  The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive© from November 1 to November 30, 2012, and included more than 2,600 hiring managers and 3,900 workers nationwide.

Most Outrageous Interview Blunders

Inexperience with proper interview etiquette or the pressure to make a lasting impression on a prospective employer can sometimes cause workers to show surprising errors in judgment.  Hiring managers provided real-life 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.

Six Fatal Interview Errors

While the outrageous can result in lost opportunities, so can other behaviors that are seen more frequently.  When asked to identify the top detrimental mistakes in job interviews, hiring managers reported:

Mistake:  Appearing disinterested is the No. 1 turnoff, according to 62 percentof employers.

Tip:  A lack of enthusiasm can leave the employer feeling less than enthusiastic about you as a candidate.  Maintain good energy throughout the interview.  Make sure to ask thoughtful questions about the company's competitive positioning and growth prospects, and come in with ideas.

Mistake:  Answering a cell phone or texting – 60 percent

Tip:  Make sure to turn your phone or tablet off, or better yet, leave them at home. This is a major pet peeve for employers and can often be a deal breaker.   

Mistake:  Dressing inappropriately – 60 percent

Tip:  It's better to err on the conservative.  Wear a business suit or business casual (ie, a nice pair of pants/skirt and button down shirt). 

Mistake:  Talking negatively about a current or previous employer – 58 percent

Tip:  This is a good way to be labeled as a troublemakerEven if you are completely justified in your assessment of a past employer, don't badmouth him/her.  Focus on what you learned from that company and how it's relevant to the job at hand.

Mistake:  Failure to make eye contact (72 percent) or smile (42 percent), bad posture (38 percent) and a weak handshake (28 percent)

Tip:  Body language speaks volumes.  Chin up, back straight, big smile, firm but not too firm handshake and look straight at the interviewer.

Mistake:  Not providing specific examples - 34 percent

Tip:  Vague responses can sometimes imply a lack of knowledge or experience.  Come equipped with specific examples of how you contributed to the success of other organizations, quantifying results whenever possible.  

"One-in-four workers plan to find new jobs this year or next," said Rosemary Haefner,

Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.  "A job interview can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences out there, so it's important to plan and practice.  Have a friend run through a mock interview with you, asking questions you think will come up and some curve balls you're not expecting.  Thoroughly research the company ahead of time and draft responses that incorporate your accomplishments.  The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to run into mishaps."

Survey Methodology

This 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, non-government) between November 1 and November 30, 2012 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 2,611 and 3,991, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.92 and +/-1.55 percentage points, respectively.  Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder®

CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset - their people. Its online career site,®, is the largest in the United States with more than 24 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 49 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world's top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and talent intelligence to recruitment support. More than 10,000 websites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder's proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the United States, Europe, South America, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

Media Contact
Jennifer Grasz
[email protected]

SOURCE CareerBuilder

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