Once, when I was studying in Russia as an undergraduate, I overheard an interview being conducted in a small cafÃ©. The interviewer, an American woman presumably working for a multinational company, was interviewing a Russian man. The interview was for a bilingual position, so half the questions were asked in Russian and half were in English. The woman asked the dreaded â€œWhatâ€™s your biggest weaknessâ€ question. The man replied in broken English, â€œWell, I drink too much and I smoke too much. And I cheat on my wife sometimes.â€
From where I was sitting, I could only see the interviewerâ€™s face, and her jaw literally dropped. I could not help but start laughing. I guess you could chalk it up to the manâ€™s poor command of the language, but that kind of honesty at an interview is obviously inappropriate, no matter where youâ€™re from.
A survey conducted in 2008 by Monster , the worldâ€™s largest internet job search site and Development Dimensions International , a talent management company, asked hundreds of companies to list bizarre interview stories. The following are some notable accounts as told by hiring managers:
â€œ[Candidate] wore a Walkman and said she could listen to me and the music at the same time.â€
“Balding candidate abruptly excused himself. Returned to office a few minutes later, wearing a hairpiece.”
“[Candidate] stated that, if he were hired, he would demonstrate his loyalty by having the corporate logo tattooed on his forearm.”
â€œCandidate explained that her long-term goals were to replace the interviewer.â€
“… [Candidate] wouldn’t get out of the chair until I would hire him. I had to call the police.”
“A telephone call came in for the job applicant. It was from his wife. His side of the conversation went like this: â€˜Which company? When do I start? What’s the salary?â€™ I said, â€˜I assume you’re not interested in conducting the interview any further.â€™ He promptly responded, â€˜I am as long as you’ll pay me more.â€™ I didn’t hire him, but later found out there was no other job offer. It was a scam to get a higher offer.”
“â€¦[Candidate] asked who the lovely babe was, pointing to the picture on my desk. When I said it was my wife, he asked if she was home now and wanted my phone number. I called security.”
â€œApplicant interrupted the interview to phone her therapist for advice on how to answer specific interview questions.â€
â€œ[Candidate said,] â€˜I canâ€™t work with women.â€™ (The interviewer was a woman).
â€œA job applicant challenged the interviewer to an arm wrestle.â€
And the list goes on. So next time you think youâ€™ve completely botched that interview or you feel that you blurted a silly answer to a question, think again. It couldâ€™ve been much worse.