Candidates from hell


Every recruiter has one. The ‘I can’t believe they said that, can’t believe they did that’ litany of candidates from hell. In retrospect, such tales are often amusing, but such incidents also happen to be time-wasting and heart-sinking. That quality resume´ seemed worth asking a candidate in for an interview but face-to-face, they let themselves – and you – down.

Yet it could have been worse, much worse. After all, apparently well-suited to the post, they could have sailed right through the full selection process and only when they had their feet under the table did they reveal their essential oddness…

Brace yourself for some nightmare tales.


Never switching off

A candidate reveals a lack of common courtesy and professionalism if they have neglected to turn off their mobile phone at least before they enter the interview room. Otherwise, texting is distraction enough. But answering a call where someone was asking how the interview was going with ‘It’s going really well, got to go’ in the middle of the interview was the end of the line. If the candidate was unable to focus their attention in that relatively short meeting, when on earth would they?

Undressing for success

‘If in doubt, wear a suit‘ is always good advice when seeking recruitment. Nevertheless, for women, a trying-too-hard short skirt or low-buttoned blouse can derail an interview and undermine a good resume´. And it’s never a good idea to explain, as one female candidate did when asked why she left her previous job, that the boss’s wife didn’t appreciate her skimpy outfits and flirtatious manner, though she enjoyed dressing like that and knew her boss loved it.’

Playing fast and loose with the truth

It is one thing for a candidate to put a positive spin on their actual resume´, but one ‘perfect’ individual invited for an interview was notably vague about his time at a small company where the interviewer had himself worked. Bothered, he later called an ex-colleague. They had never heard of the candidate, neither had another firm nor his old university. His name was not on a research paper he’d claimed to co-author. The candidate’s entire resume´ was fake.

Being too prepared or not at all

The ‘Any questions?’ part of an interview allows a candidate to express their knowledge and interest in the company and the position being offered. But not so they can, as did one over keen gentleman, pull out reams of notes about the entire company history taken from its website and proceed to ask the interviewer about some decision made in 1983 that was irrelevant to today. But then, a candidate simply replying ‘No’ was no better, she said that she had done little research on the company and had not prepared for the interview. Not a good answer.

Knowing less than they let on

The internet has made us all experts. With a minimum of finger-flexing, we can gen-up on anything but that’s not necessarily the same as genuinely knowing something.  Because if a candidate bluffs too convincingly , they can find themselves like the man who claimed specialist programming language knowledge he didn’t have but who ended employed in a post he hadn’t the foggiest how to fulfil. He was dismissed sharpish but it meant the recruiter had lost time and money on the wrong employee and had to begin their search all over again.

Many recruiters tales of woe are a disappointment all round. A good candidate can rule themselves out by a lack of thought or consideration for the interview process (For the completely dishonest individual, there’s not a lot of hope). The Scouts got it right. It really is that simple. Be Prepared.

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