Note to job seekers: Do not bring 50 pens with you to an interview and spread them all over the table. And dismiss any notion that those pens will make you look prepared and not the least bit strange.
That pen stunt actually happened, according to hiring managers recently polled by CareerBuilder. The careers company asked employers and human resources executives about the worst job interview screwups they've seen, and boy, did they have some doozies.
Another job candidate kept fidgeting with a duffel bag he had brought to the interview. Later, he disclosed that his dog was inside the bag. Another candidate sat in a yoga pose during the interview. Finally, someone tried using Google to find the answer to an interview question.
Many times, however, it's what the candidate says rather than does that employers remember. People can give some cringe-worthy answers to relatively benign questions, or make their own inquiries that are flat-out inappropriate.
Here are some of the memorable things employers said they've heard in job interviews:
- One man asked if his wife, who also worked at that company, was cheating on him.
- Another man asked if he could give other employees religious advice.
- One man introduced himself and then said, "But you can call me Tigger! That is the nickname I gave myself."
- When discussing diversity, someone used the phrase "off the boat."
- Someone asked how much money everyone else earned.
- When asked why he left a previous job, one candidate said it was for "kicking someone's butt that really needed it."
Some hiring managers are very good at reading body language, and shared some no-nos that anyone looking for a job should remember during an interview. When asked about mistakes in body language that job candidates make, here's what they said.
- Not making eye contact: 65 percent
- Not smiling: 36 percent
- Playing with something on the table: 33 percent
- Bad posture: 30 percent
- Fidgeting too much: 29 percent
- Crossing their arms over their chest: 26 percent
- Touching their hair or face: 25 percent
- Weak handshake: 22 percent
- Too many hand gestures: 11 percent
- Too-strong handshake: 7 percent
To be fair, getting a job is hard work. Hiring a new employee requires four hours of face-to-face meetings on average, the owner of recruitment firm Babich & Associates wrote recently in Entrepreneur. It can be tough to say all the right things and maintain smiles and eye contact for that long. It's so tough, in fact, that an entire industry has sprung up to help prep people for job interviews.
For job hunters who don't want to pay for professional help, CareerBuilder has some advice on how to nail an interview:
- Rehearse your interview skills
- Videotape yourself asking common interview questions
- Prepare an elevator pitch -- a 30-second speech about how you would be perfect for the job. Get ready to launch that baby when asked to "Tell me about yourself."
- Do your homework about a company.
- Remember to breathe. Take deep breaths before the interview begins to ease your anxiety.