Recruitment FAIL!

Last Updated Nov 3, 2009 6:36 PM EST

In my last post, Passing the Recuitment Process, I went through some suggestions for interview candidates, based on what we like to see during the hiring process.

Some were pretty basic, but having seen just about everything when recruiting, I thought it might also be a constructive exercise to share some examples of what not to do. (These all really happened, folks.)

  • In a resume listing referees, don't include a note stating "I love where I work right now so please do not contact them because I don't want to tip them off that I'm looking around". Just don't include them as referees, ok?
  • In the cover letter, don't say "I know it may look like I move around a bit but it is important to note that I've never resigned".
  • Try, if you can, not to get your mother to write the cover letter. It may be a glowing letter of recommendation, but sentences like "recruitment is like dating and my son would make the 'marriage' work" can make interviewers slightly queasy.
  • Under the Awards and Achievements section, avoid listing television appearances like "Been a contestant on The Price is Right".
  • Including salary expectations can be helpful; putting "The higher the better" is not.
  • By all means, include any medical information that might be pertinent, but not that you have "minor allergies to stupid people and teenage girls who like, say 'like' a lot".
  • Take the iPod earphones out of your ears when entering the interview (though responding with "It proves that I can multitask" when this is pointed out is not bad).
  • If you really feel the job is not for you, feel free to say so honestly and with a smile. Don't excuse yourself in the middle of the interview, say you're going to the bathroom and never return.
  • Before the interview commences, don't use your camera phone to take a photo of the startled HR Manager and say that it's "Just so I can remember which people I have seen today".
  • Don't use the letterhead from your current employer on your cover letter.
  • You will be asked "What are your weaknesses?" Try to come up with something better than "I find it hard to get up in the mornings so I sometimes turn up late".
  • Yes, some habits are hard to break. But chewing your nails throughout the entire interview, and spitting out bits as you go will simply not do. Wear gloves.
Honestly, the ultimate advice I can give you is try to stand to out without standing out for the wrong reasons. If in doubt, use your common sense and put yourself in the employer's shoes --- think of things that would impress (do the research) and "always" be professional.

Tell us your own recruitment interview horror stories in the Talkback section below!

  • Melissa Lourenco

    Melissa is the HR manager for CBS Interactive (CBSi) in Australia. She graduated from the University of Sydney, majoring in Human Resource Management and prior to joining CBSi worked in a variety of generalist HR roles. When not wearing the HR/UN hat, she likes to curl up on the couch with her e-book, add/rearrange songs on her iPod, go to the movies and play the odd RPG on her PC. If you have questions or comments for Mel, send them to